HARRISON, N.Y. They've only been serving food for two months, but Harrison's new Oakland Grill has already built a reputation with the locals. Chef Dennis Cruz is at the top of the food chain inside the new restaurant's kitchen.
"I'm earning the customers' trust one dish at a time," Cruz said. "I try to feel the customers out and I'm still learning what they like. But I enjoy cooking everything."
Cruz joined with the Oakland Grill months ago, making it his first job in Harrison. Since his arrival, he said the town has been nothing short of impressive. He's been so impressed, he said, he's considering relocating to Harrison with his family from Rockland County.
"The town is loving me and I'm loving them back," Cruz said. "They're good to me. But I'm only as good as my last meal so I have to work harder."
The Oakland Grill held its soft opening Oct. 15 and has quickly gotten into a groove as one of Harrison's newest bars and grills, just in time for Harrison's prized Huskies-Garnets football game . The grill is operated by Doni Fumarelli, John Stubenvoll and Mark Valentino, the same guys who brought Harrison's Ale House to town last summer.
Since opening, Fumarelli said the grill has become most recognized for its burgers and "bad-ass" burritos.
"We've been growing through word of mouth," Fumarelli said. "We've got locals coming through and they seem happy."
Though Cruz said the grill has been making more Italian dishes lately, he is prepared for anything. One step into his kitchen could bring about the smell of salsa, sitting directly across the counter from an Italian recipes cook book.
"We're very excited for the opening," Cruz said. "The community is adapting to my cuisine and I'm twisting through different styles from scratch."
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