Only Croatian: Call Dubrovnik (New Rochelle) a day ahead to order lamb grilled “under the bell” (a coal-piled iron dome), or choose from a plate of top-notch raw seafood brought to your table (eg, wild black bass, wild Scottish salmon).
Lamb Cooked Under the Bell at Dubrovnik in New Rochelle. This is the weirdest restaurant in Westchester—and I sort of love it. Some of the best cooking there is done outdoors over a wood fire, and nothing smells better than delicious things, cooked outdoors over wood, on a mild summer night. This lamb (and, especially, its fat) was beautifully golden, smoky, and delicious. It was cooked under an iron “bell” placed over that wood fire with more coals piled on top, sort of like an old fashioned Dutch oven. Gnawing this smoky lamb off its tiny bones while sitting under a starry sky was a primal, sensual experience.
The outdoor patio at Dubrovnik in New Rochelle feels more like your backyard than a restaurant - for the better. Unlike many congested eateries, tables here are far enough apart from one another to create a laid-back, comfortable environment. This setting is a perfect match for chef and owner Zeljko “Jerry” Tomic’s approach to cooking.
Last March, my brothers and I traveled with my mother to Israel to celebrate her 80th birthday. This year, to celebrate Mom’s 81st, the whole family went to Dubrovnik. Not Dubrovnik the city. Dubrovnik the restaurant. And although you might assume visiting the coast of Croatia would be more exciting, the meal on Main Street in New Rochelle was so good, it makes me wonder.
Dubrovnik takes its name from owner Zeljko “Jerry” Tomic’s hometown, a historic Croatian port city and popular tourist destination. Tomic learned how to cook simple, high-quality Croatian dishes from his mother, who ran a restaurant on the nearby island of Lopud.
“We are cooking my mother’s recipes,” says Tomic. “She would always say, ‘You don’t need too much seasoning if the food is good!’”
While a variety of meat, vegetables, and pastas are offered, the real draw here is the fish. Tomic, himself a former fisherman, spends hours at the Hunts Point fish market hand-selecting the highest quality fresh fish he can find. The fish are presented to customers raw, on an iced platter, for selection at the table before they are cooked. Preparations are kept simple; sea salt and olive oil from Croatia are frequently all that will adorn a fresh catch.
A G.P.S. comes in handy on the way to Dubrovnik, an exciting, handsome restaurant on an unprepossessing block on Main Street in New Rochelle. This authentic Croatian spot — my Croatian-American guests thought the only thing missing was the Adriatic lapping at limestone cliffs — is polished but not fussy, just like the dishes created by its Croatian owner and chef, Zeljko Tomic, known as Jerry.
The fare is simple and home-style, from a chef who is expert in roasting the menu’s many meat and fish options over an open wood-fired grill, and in preparing whatever fresh vegetables, fruits and fish happen to be on hand and in season. In the back of the restaurant, a large, sunken garden provides the kitchen with much of the seasonal produce.
While weather permits and heat lamps glow, the patio is a lovely place to sit for a view of the sunset or the stars, and to wonder whether you are in New Rochelle at all. Plans are afoot to have the space open throughout the year.
Odlučio sam otvoriti restoran u čast svojoj majci Terezi koja kuha najbolje na svijetu, po našim starim dubrovačkim i hrvatskim receptima. Želim da moji američki prijatelji i hrvatsko iseljeništvo uživaju u hrani koja ima miris Mediterana, najljepšeg Jadranskog mora i tradicije dubrovačke gospode i sirotinje jer je svatko od njih imao na stolu jela koja danas nazivamo tradicionalnima i najukusnijima na svijetu – ponosno je za „Večernji list“ objasnio Željko Tomić na otvaranju restorana hrvatskog imena i kuhinje u New Yorku.
For years Jerry Tomic, a native Croatia on the Adritic Coast and owner of Top Drawer Custom Cabinetry in New Rochelle, dreamed of bringing a true taste of home to Westchester. The flavorfully melded historic cuisines of Croatia, Italy and European continent, served in a refined atmosphere.