CHEF DAVID DIBARI
Straight Outta Verplanck
By the time that he snagged his first restaurant job at 14, David DiBari had already gleaned the basics of Italian cookery. When ditching school, DiBari’s task was to tend his grandmother’s garden and help in her kitchen—but the would-be chef had already started to experiment by crumbling Stella Doro cookies into his sugary cereal and then drinking the anise-scented milk. Though steeped in the scents and flavors of an Italian-American household, DiBari’s passion for restaurants had yet to be born. That love developed while he was working a variety of teenage restaurants jobs: dishwasher, busboy, and “oyster bitch” in a Peekskill wedding venue. Soon, DiBari realized he could be gainfully employed while having a criminal amount of fun.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, DiBari earned sought-after positions in several of New York City’s finest restaurants, Windows on the World, Patroon, and David Bouley’s Danube. Though he learned at every stage, the rubber finally hit the road when DiBari landed a two year stint at Mario Batali’s influential Babbo. There, DiBari witnessed the modern reinvention of the white-tablecloth Italian restaurant with the unbeatable combination of youth, fearlessness, and a loud rock and roll soundtrack. In 2004, DiBari brought to Westchester what he had learned in Manhattan. He took on two Executive Chef positions, first at Zuppa in Yonkers and, then, at Eastchester Fish Gourmet. At Eastchester Gourmet, DiBari became the youngest Westchester chef to earn an “Excellent” rating in the New York Times. M.H. Reed’s review praised DiBari for “making every dish extraordinary.”
In 2009, smack in the middle of the mortgage crisis, DiBari plonked the few thousand dollars that he’d saved on a small restaurant located on a sleepy side street in Dobbs Ferry. Though he performed much of the renovation labor himself—even refinishing the restaurant’s tables and re-upholstering its chairs— DiBari opened with only enough money to cover his payroll for one week. Meanwhile, all around Westchester, restaurants closed their doors as newly chastened diners tightened their belts. Happily, despite its timing, The Cookery was a hit from day one. DiBari earned his second rave in the New York Times for painstakingly crafted—and thoughtfully outlandish—spins on artisanal cuisine. Critic Alice Gabriel praised DiBari’s “smartly executed, neo-nostalgic Italian menu.” The Cookery’s famed whole pig dinners and events like The Cookery’s annual Mothershucker and Cooktoberfest sealed DiBari’s reputation as Westchester’s most boundary-pushing chef.
In 2012, inspired by the food truck revolution, DiBari debuted DoughNation, a mobile, wood fired pizza oven that travels to farmer’s markets, large festivals, and private parties. The truck spins puffy, reverent Neapolitan rounds topped with The Cookery’s tender, hand-made mozzarella. It also uses seasonal produce from the DoughNation’s farmer’s market route. The success of the Doughnation truck encouraged DiBari to open The Parlor, also in Dobbs Ferry, in 2013. This artisanal, wood-fired pizzeria shows DiBari stepping outside of the Italian genre with on-trend versions of chicken and waffles, wood fired salmon collars, and “Parlor pockets,” a pizzaiolo’s wood fired take on a Scotch egg. The Parlor went on to earn DiBari another “Excellent” rating in the New York Times.
Still pushing boundaries, DiBari can usually be found in his restaurants, carving whole pigs at The Cookery's tables or feeding pies into The Parlor’s 900° oven. It’s all part of what DiBari terms his “progress toward greater simplicity.” Look for more dastardly ventures from David DiBari soon.