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8/27/2014 2:00:00 PM
Brick Oven Pizza Night at the Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant

By Paula Roberts

Lara DePietro removes a pizza from the woodburning oven at Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant on Westport Island.
Lara DePietro removes a pizza from the woodburning oven at Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant on Westport Island.
 
A unique dining experience awaits visitors at the Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant, located on a small farm on rural Westport Island. The upscale restaurant used to be closed on Mondays. That all changed when daughter of the owner, Lara DePietro, a holistic nutritionist, held a seminar last summer on how to build an outdoor pizza oven, led by Jesse Stevens of Harrison.

Now the restaurant hosts pizza nights every Monday night through late October. Lara fires up the outdoor brick oven mid-afternoon using small pieces of oak wood to produce a good bed of coals. Although she has had the oven temperature up to 1100 degrees, the ideal temperature for cooking the pies is 700 to 750 degrees. The oven can cook two 10 to 12 inch pizzas in about three minutes.

"There used to be a store on the island that served pizza. After the (pizza) oven cured, we decided to give it a try," owner Mario DePietro said. One year later, they are cooking 35 to 50 pizzas every Monday night. Reservations are required, so they know "how much dough to pull," Lara said. Pizza is served from 5:30 to 7:30 every Monday night.

Squire Tarbox prides itself on farm to table cooking. They use fresh ingredients in preparing their meals, including their gourmet pizza. Most of the vegetables used are grown on the property or at a nearby farm. All their bread, including their pizza dough is made on site.

Diners have a choice of three homemade sauces for their pizza, including a creamy white sauce, traditional red sauce, or pesto; farm raised vegetables; three cheeses including fresh mozzarella, grated mozzarella or goat cheese; and meat selections of pepperoni, prosciutto, sausage, bacon and anchovies.

Mario DePietro is also the executive chef of the restaurant and serves up an authentic Swiss meal. He offers a basic menu including potato crusted haddock, veal (Swiss) style, Filet Mignon, duck breast, roasted rack of lamb, Maine crab cakes, and occasionally runs specials like Spanish paella with lobster.

Appetizers include Swiss onion soup, dill cured Scandinavian salmon, house salad and soup. They also offer an extensive wine list featuring both foreign and domestic selections.

Mario grew up in Switzerland and spent a lot of time at his grandmother's farm in the Alps. He came to the United States in 1969 for one year to work in the Four Seasons in New York. "And I'm still here," he said.

After working 25 years as an executive chef at Restaurant Associates, he decided he wanted to do something different. Friends of his bought inns in Vermont, so he decided he would start searching for an inn of his own. "It was by accident that I ended up here," Mario said.

He found an advertisement for the Squire Tarbox Inn and farm in a New York newspaper. The ad brought back fond memories of spending time on his grandmother's farm. "I thought we would be here seven years, and it has been 14," he said.

"When you are young and live there (Switzerland), you don't know until you move away. That's why I fight for traditions. They are holding onto more traditions over there than here," Mario said with his thick Swiss accent.

In the fall and spring, he hosts a Swiss night every Thursday, with cheese fondue and Raclette. A traditionalist, Mario serves the fondue made with four different cheeses and a spice mix imported from Switzerland, with potato, onions and other vegetables, gerkins, and homemade bread. "We slice the cheese and have a little grill on the table with a little pan. When the cheese bubbles, you scrape over it with potato or whatever you have," he said.

The dining room at Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant. The original building was built in 1763, and an addition was added inn 1820. The inn retains many of its original features, including wide boards and exposed timbers.
The dining room at Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant. The original building was built in 1763, and an addition was added inn 1820. The inn retains many of its original features, including wide boards and exposed timbers.
 
The original part of the inn was built in 1763 with an addition added in 1820. The main dining room has exposed beams overhead and a kitchen fireplace. The porch dining room overlooks beautiful flower beds, vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

Free range chickens, and a couple of goats make their home on the farm and their antics provide amusement for the guests.

Reservations are required for all dining at the Squire Tarbox Inn and Restaurant. They can be reached at 882-7693, or visited online at http:// www.squiretarboxinn.com.




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