At the center of Livingston Manor’s Main Street sits one of Sullivan County’s most precious gems: The Kaatskeller. As its name suggests, the restaurant blends rural New York vibes with antique tavern charm and boasts a menu to match. At any given time, there are a dozen different specialty pizzas to choose from, all baked in a wood-fired brick oven. The resulting scent of gooey, fresh dough envelops diners (both indoors and al fresco) with an aroma that has become as much a trademark of the restaurant as the wooden arch outside that bears its name.
With ample outdoor seating, pleasant weather acts as a harbinger for hungry patrons, and hazy summer evenings find the Kaatskeller full to capacity with local residents and weekending visitors alike. Long after the sun sets, the bar provides enough local beer, cider, and handcrafted cocktails to quench any thirst, with the selections on tap rotating frequently enough to make every foray upstairs an adventure. A large firepit – appropriately surrounded by a cluster of Adirondack chairs – begs for late nights under the stars filled with simple pleasures like good food, laughter, and conversation with friends both old and new. This laidback way of living might be a rare commodity in more populous locales, and while it can come off as cliche to claim colloquialisms like “quaint” or “rustic” when referencing the Kaatskeller, they just happen to ring true.
Not just a summer oasis, The Kaatskeller provides a cozy sanctuary to ward off the chill and desolation of the winter months as well. With a candlelit, converted barn interior that manages to be mid-century retro without being garishly archaic, it’s no wonder that the restaurant appeals to so many NYC weekenders who may not find pizza by the slice, but who do find a familiar slice of heaven in what’s increasingly, fondly referred to as “the Brooklyn of the Catskills.” The thin-crust pizzas are enough to satisfy even the most punctilious pizza elitists, and between the salads, desserts, and inventive cocktails, there’s something to please every palette. (Fear not, that includes anyone who adheres to a special diet as well. Vegans and celiac sufferers, this is a safe haven.)
As a focal point of the community, The Kaatskeller is a conduit of the farm-to-table movement, an endeavor to which proprietor Jon Westergreen is very committed. The menu utilizes, at any given time, produce from Somewhere In Time Farm, trout from the Beaverkill Hatchery, and fresh mozzarella from Tonjes Dairy, not to mention a cornucopia of beers from the nearby Catskill Brewery. Both the geographic and social heart of town, The Kaatskeller represents everything good about the region condensed into a singular establishment. With locally sourced ingredients that translate into pizzas whose authenticity remain unrivaled this far north of the five boroughs, it would behoove anyone on reasonable traveling distance to go and experience its appeal for themselves.