When you think about waterfront dining in Newburgh, there's likely a handful of restaurants that come to mind, all clustered together on Front Street between the ferry dock and the Regal Bag building. There's upscale seafood on the deck at Blu Pointe; the wood-fired pizzas of Cafe Pitti; barbecue and line dancing at Billy Joe's Ribworks; and the exciting newcomer, Primo Waterfront, serving coastal Italian cuisine.
These are all delightful eateries that make the Newburgh waterfront hum with activity, especially during the summer months, when a languid evening can be spent next to the Hudson River. Often unjustly overlooked, however, is the longstanding hidden gem of the Newburgh waterfront, Pamela's on the Hudson.
The Pamela in question is Pamela Resch, who opened her eclectic American fusion restaurant in the Newburgh Yacht Club in 2003—the restaurant sits on the top floor of the yacht club clubhouse. The scenic location was one of the reasons that drew Resch to open a restaurant after running a catering business for two decades. (That business, Pamela's Traveling Feast, is still thriving, in addition to a number of other business ventures launched by the indefatigueable Resch.) Perched high above the river, the bar, restaurant, and patio offer panoramic views. "It's almost like being on a cruise ship, because we sit very high," says Resch. "You can see south to the pathway to West Point and north all the way to Poughkeepsie." Resch also notes that the bar is one of the few in the area that faces the river, so drinkers can drink in the view as well their cocktail.
The food at Pamela's has always been focused on classic American and continental dishes, and many are in evidence on the current menu, like maple-Dijon-glazed pan-seared salmon ($27), beet and goat cheese salad over arugula ($15), oysters Rockefeller ($15) and roasted "airline" chicken breast ($25). There's also a selection of bites for the small-plates crowd: bison short ribs ($13); grilled sausage trio with vension, smoked duck, and pheasant ($13); and tri-tip chimichurri kabobs ($11) among others.
Since reopening "post-pandemic," Resch has taken Pamela's in a more overtly steakhouse direction, adding more steaks to the menu—the ribeye is $40, the grilled filet mignon Oscar (stuffed with crabmeat and finished with hollandaise sauce) is $47. There's also a grilled pork chop ($27) and three kinds of burgers, all made from a mix of ground brisket and chuck, and all under $20. (Not an easy find in the new age of the $25 restaurant burger.)
A serial entrepreneur, Resch can't keep still. Along with her chef, Rick Lacatina, she recently opened the Soup Shack, a lunchtime takeaway stand in downtown Newburgh. "Given that the restaurant is slight out-of-the way, we've always wanted more of a presence in the city of Newburgh," Resch says. Located in the drive-through of the vacant Newburgh Bank building at 94 Broadway (the soups are made in the restaurant kitchen), the Soup Shack offers a rotating selection of soup and chili for $6 a pint, Monday through Friday, from 11am to 2pm. "It seems to be catching on," says Resch. "We'll see how well the soups will go over in the summer."
For Resch, the Soup Shack is another pivot in a volatile business. Like so many restaurateurs during the pandemic, she was faced with a series of existential crises, and business continues to present new challenges. "Sometimes we struggle now to find purveyors to accommodate the menu," Resch says. "Instead of one or two purveyors, we have half a dozen." And where many other food industry vets threw in the tool during COVID, Resch doubled down. "My kids were telling me to close the doors and follow one of my other passions," she says. "This still is my passion."
I'll give the final word to Amanda P. from Miami, who summed up the general consensus on Pamela's with this post on Yelp from January 8:
"Pamela's is a long-standing requirement for anyone who knows high-class, delicious fare in Newburgh. I have been to the restaurant for private parties and casual dining and had the pleasure of Pamela's off site catering multiple times. If you're looking for a secret gem on the waterfront with unbelievable views, delicious food, and proper cocktails, Pamela's is where you should be eating tonight."Pamela's on the Hudson is open 3 to 11pm, Thursday through Saturday. Sunday brunch is from 10:30am to 3pm.