From Williamsburg to Woodstock: Shelter Restaurant & Bar | Restaurants | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

“It’s like walking into a cozy cabin in the mountains—a welcoming place to find shelter,” says Stephanie Ullmann, co-owner of Shelter bar and restaurant, which, after a decade-long stint in Brooklyn, traded Williamsburg for Woodstock this past spring.

The intimate spot opened May 12 and is in line with the trend of recent businesses that break away from the tie-dye hippy vibe associated with Woodstock and embrace the surrounding Catskills’ “forever wild” designation as an aesthetic. Located right on Woodstock’s main drag at the site of the former Maria’s Bazaar and Cafe and its attached gift-shop neighbor Sparkle, the building has been transformed from a no-frills pizza shop/bakery and whimsical boutique into a rustic-bohemian dining room with small-yet-flavorful food and cocktail menus.

Ullmann co-owns Shelter with her husband Martin Mazzoni and his best friend Diego Galarza; the latter pair opened the restaurant’s original iteration in Williamsburg in 2011. “Martin and Diego grew up together in Buenos Aires but left Argentina in 2004,” Ullman says. “They each had a lot of experience in almost every part of the restaurant industry but always had a vision of having their own place serving food with influences from Argentina—that’s why on our menu you’ll see fish, eggplant, and the most beautiful empanadas. They’re really extraordinary—simple, but really good.”

Ullman, originally from Munich in Germany, did some office work for the Brooklyn-based Shelter, but became part of the team when they decided to move the business north. “The lease in Brooklyn was up, and we happened to be in Woodstock one day because we have a house in Saugerties. While walking by the old Maria’s, we saw a tiny paper sign in the window that the space was available,” she says. “So, we called and the journey started. It wasn’t really a planned move, but it was perfect timing. The guys had worked with other people in past restaurants and pop-ups, but we decided to do this one as just us: a small family business.”

So. More about those empanadas. “They couldn’t be more popular,” Ullmann says. Top-sellers include ham and cheese (prosciutto cotto with mixed Argentine cheese); hand-cut beef; and mushroom with goat cheese and kale (all $16 a pair). Additional appetizers include Argentinian sausage AKA chorizo ($17) or buñuelos (zucchini fritters, $15).

A short list of entrees includes the popular 10-ounce skirt steak ($35) or roasted eggplant with grilled tomatoes and cashew ricotta ($27), and entrees come with a choice of sides like celery root puree or local greens. “We kept the pizza oven that Maria’s had, so you can also sit at the bar and order a drink and food, while seeing how the pizzas are made,” she says. “And we have some unique flavors, like the Bee and Love, which has soppressata and a drizzle of chili honey vinegar, so it’s this great mix of sweet and spicy.” Pizzas run between $16 and $27.

Shelter is also rolling out a new brunch program with options like steak and eggs with baked potatoes, Argentinian sausage sandwich with poached egg, French toast with marinated berries and mascarpone, and breakfast pizza.

Top picks at the bar include the Sexy Paloma ($16) with tequila, mezcal, St. Germain, and fresh grapefruit; and the cocktail of the moment espresso martini ($18) with hints of coconut and vanilla. A short list of beer and cider includes local favorites like West Kill Brewing and Hudson North Cider Co. ($8-$10), whereas wine selections typically hail from Europe and South America ($14-$18 per glass; high-end selections available by the bottle).

“We wanted to make sure the restaurant was friendly toward all, and that’s what we’ve seen so far: some families come by with children earlier, then that fades out into more of a bar crowd,” Ullmann says. “And a lot of locals seem to be happy with what we offer. It’s been really moving to see how supportive and welcoming the community has been. Everyone is so friendly in general.”

Transforming the building to fit the envisions modern-lodge theme took much more work than Ullmann said was originally anticipated. “We thought maybe we’d give it a good paint job and fix up the kitchen a bit, but it turned into remodeling the whole place,” she explains. “The biggest surprise was when we opened the low ceilings and found the most beautiful untouched wood beams, so we opened it quite a bit and it just gives the appearance of a totally different dimension from the former layout. People come in and ask if we had them installed, because it’s hard to believe how much it opens and warms the space. To create something people like and that makes them happy—it’s wonderful.”

Shelter is open for dinner Monday and Tuesday from 5 until 9:30pm; Thursday through Sunday from 5 until 10pm. Brunch starts at 12pm on Saturday and Sunday. (Closed Wednesday.) Live music is on Fridays at 6:30pm.

Location Details

Shelter Woodstock

21 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock

(845) 633-6003

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