Nostalgia Served Up Fresh
Written by Michelle Loheac, photos by Lyndsi Stoltzfus
If you feel instantly at home when you eat at New Hall Diner in Hall it’s not by coincidence. The heart of the restaurant’s menu duplicates the food that owner Tamarie Cataldo made for her twins at their family table: French toast breakfast bakes and stacks of pancakes adorned with fruit and whipped cream smiley faces. Apple grillers and grilled peanut butter and jellies for lunch. The food is hearty, cozy, kid-friendly.
But make no mistake: The flavor combinations are sophisticated and, at times, surprising. Consider two ways to waffle: squash waffles with crumbled sausage, Fuji apples and eggnog whipped cream or waffles topped with Bostrom Farms maple andouille sausage, smoked butter and sriracha maple syrup.
Located in a hamlet near Geneva, the diner’s “Feature Board” highlights each season. In spring, rhubarb and strawberries dominate before stepping aside for heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn in the summer. The printed menu showcases the less-celebrated products of late-season harvest that store well through winter: Root Veggie “Homeyfries” from parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, radishes and carrots.
Cataldo’s new season of sorts began almost two years ago. “I wasn’t expecting to open a restaurant at the time,” she recalls. “I just came here to eat and saw the ‘For Rent’ sign.” Located next door to the Hall Post Office on busy State Route 14A the building had, off and on for 65 years, housed a diner. A large vintage cooler remains from early years as a corner store.
Cataldo was drawn to the abundance of fresh ingredients produced by small farms nestled between Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. She envisioned strangers sharing conversations across tables while savoring the flavors of the region.
Neighbors become customers and suppliers—often simultaneously. Cataldo likes how “it keeps it all connected.” Above the counter a list of local suppliers is handwritten under the proclamation “We Local.” Mixed among such familiar names as Red Jacket Orchards and Fellenz Family Farm: “Random, Local Farmstands.”
With a degree in horticulture and work experience from Wegmans Organic Farm, Port’s Café and Rio Tomatlan, Cataldo naturally found herself opening a restaurant that is both locally inspired and embraced. It’s as serendipitous a pairing as the flavors you’ll find on her menu.
4856 Main St., Hall; 585.626.2075; facebook.com/New-Hall-Diner
Michelle Loheac, after more than a decade in corporate agriculture, is returning to her roots in writing, with a focus on food and farms.
Lyndsi Stoltzfus is a Penn Yan–based photographer, inspired by light and capturing genuine emotion. Find her on Instagram at @lyndsiphotography.
This article originally appeared in the January-February 2020 Issue of the magazine.