Rosie General Brings Bakery and Deli Delights to Rondout’s Former Skillypot

The Sasso family: Nicole, Ashley, Rosie and Anthony. (Photos by Dion Ogust)

At the corner of Broadway and Abeel Street in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston, there is a building with a “flatiron” configuration and Greenwald’s name commemorated in mosaic on the step to the entrance. Max and Jacob Greenwald were Cunard steamship agents helping European families immigrate to the area in the early 20e century, and the storefront had housed their agency. Visitors to the neighborhood in recent years would remember it as Skillypot Antiques, a dense group of stalls hosted by various antique dealers, with racks of vintage clothes hanging in the large front windows.

Unfortunately for some, Skillypot didn’t survive the pandemic, closing its doors for good in 2020. But the home furnishings treasure hunters’ loss is the foodies’ gain: the 3,000-square-foot wedge-shaped space has found a new life as an Italian delicatessen, bakery and café, under the auspices of highly acclaimed chef, Anthony Sasso, and his three sisters, Andrea, Nicole and Ashley. It’s called Rosie General, after their mother.

Nicole Sasso

Anthony Sasso is from Glasco and grew up in the area, learning the basics of Italian cooking from his grandmother and attending Kingston High School before heading to the Big Apple to strike it rich. And he found it: After college, he spent time with an aunt in Spain and immersed himself in Catalan cuisine. “I fell in love with their food,” he says. When he returned in 2004, he was hired as a cook at a brand new tapas restaurant near Gramercy Park called Casa Mono. “I was their third or fourth employee,” he recalls. He then went back to school at the Institute of Culinary Education, interned with Bobby Flay, obsessively watched celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagassé on the Food Network, took another trip to Spain for work in El Hogar Gallego.

Anthony Sasso is the chef and owner of Rosie General.

Upon his return, Sasso settles down again in Casa Mono, this time for a long trip. His mentor, Andy Nusser, gave him increasing responsibilities and appointed him chef in 2008. The following year, Casa Mono obtained its first Michelin star; in 2015 Pete Wells of The New York Times gave the place a “brilliant three-star review,” which Sasso says is virtually unheard of for such a small, laid-back restaurant.

While working in the city, Sasso came to Kingston on Mondays off to visit family and also learn the art of butchery with Josh Applestone at Fleischer. He used this knowledge to establish in-house butchery and curing programs at Casa Mono. But in 2017 he was ready to try new things, signing Nusser’s partner Mario Botali as executive chef at La Sirena. A year later, he was invited by the James Beard Foundation to give cooking demonstrations on cruise ships.

In 2019, he embarked on a five-month road trip across the country, with Los Angeles as his ultimate destination, but making a point of couch surfing the homes of his 13-year-old former colleagues in the kitchen of Casa Mono and learn as much as possible about regional American cuisine. The plan he had in mind to create a Southern California outpost for the Andy Nusser/Mario Batali/Joe Bastianich restaurant consortium didn’t materialize once there. So he decided to learn baking at Gjusta in Venice Beach. He returned to Kingston to regroup, having given way to New York, three months before COVID hit in early 2020.

Fed up with hours of burnout at a hip urban restaurant, Sasso had decided to return to Ulster County and start a new business that might involve his sisters. The pandemic interruption gave them plenty of time to find and renovate the right location. “I fell in love with 20 places before I found Skillypot,” he says. He first thought of turning it into a butcher’s shop; but the memory of all the little shops he had visited on his road trip, his sister Nicole’s baking expertise, and Broadway’s rich history as a hotbed of ethnic bakeries combined to persuade the family that a bakery and cafe combo was the way to go. Finding that there was no greengrocer in the immediate vicinity, they decided to offer some fresh produce from their parents’ garden and local farms, as well as basic groceries. “We’re a neighborhood joint,” Sasso says.

The entry of Rosie General.

While the Sasso siblings have gone out of their way to preserve the Greenwald building’s funky period atmosphere, including its wood-plank floors and pressed-tin ceiling, the dark clutter of its store days antiques has been replaced by lots of light and room to move around. The companionway area in the front windows is just one of many grouped seating areas now. A long L-shaped counter contains the espresso bar and displays tantalizing arrays of breads, rolls, bagels, pies, cakes and Nicole’s extraordinary cookies, all baked on site. Sweets and other things children like are displayed on shelves at eye level.

Behind the counter is the kitchen where the sandwiches are constructed and the salads assembled. They also manufacture and package many value-added gourmet prepared meals, such as condiments, sauces, and specialty “ferments.” (Your humble correspondent enthusiastically recommends the pistachio pesto.)

Ashley works on the display of some of the baked goods at Rosie’s General.

Rosie General opened in May; its hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with the kitchen closing at 3 a.m. Breakfast and lunch are served all day. Sasso says he’s eager to expand his staff enough to stay open in the evenings and serve dinners “eventually.” Maybe we’ll start phasing it in on Monday, when everything else is closed. Slaughtering meats on site is also part of the plan – to add to the pastrami, bacon and trout they already smoke and/or brine themselves – as is sourcing local ingredients whenever possible. Will Iberian dishes reflecting Sasso’s years as a tapas chef be far behind? Stay tuned.

Rosie General is located at 39 Broadway in Kingston. To learn more, visit www.rosiegeneral.com Where www.facebook.com/Rosie-General-108208075070971.

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