“The worst part of offering an honest review of Catskill Rose is the fear that too many people will try it and the magnificent ambiance of almost having a personal chef might dissipate,” says a reviewer on Trip Advisor.
Never fear, reviewers have been using words like “adorable,” “stellar,” and “amazing,” to describe the hospitality and food here for a while now, and management smiles and nods and raises the bar: another innovation, a new recipe, another tray of scones. There are no plans afoot to attempt economies of scale.
“When you do what you love, people can feel it. And taste it.”
Peter DiSclafani grew up in some busy Catskills kitchens. At thirteen, he was cooking for hungry Boy Scouts at their camp in Tri-Mount and then for hungry cops at a camp in Elka Park. He moved on to Kingston, then to West Palm Beach, and from there to Boulder, where he met and fell in love with Rose, who shared his passion for hospitality.
“In the mid-eighties, we were working in the same Colorado restaurant and the economy wasn't the best, although there were a lot of creative restaurants and chefs,” remembers Rose. “We got married knowing that we wanted to open an inn together, a place with a nice restaurant and a few rooms. We started looking in Frisco and Keystone in Colorado, then in Monterey, California, but there wasn't anything that grabbed us.”
“Then we read an article claiming the resurgence of the Catskills,” says Peter. “Since I grew up around here and love it, we started looking here.”
“Peter flew to New York and went around with a realtor,” recalls Rose, “while I ran the restaurant we were working in. He looked in Woodstock, but there was a moratorium on building at the time and everything available needed a kitchen build.”
The original tavern became a four-room inn with an intimate dining room and a heated three-season saltwater pool.
In the tiny Catskills town of Mount Tremper, Peter found a 1940s-era tavern.
There was a big bar, a fifty-seat dining room, and room to grow. “The place had been closed for a couple of years, but it had all the right elements,” Peter recalls.
The couple spent nine months cleaning, painting, waiting on their liquor license, and getting the place provisioned, finally opening their doors in December of 1987. “We opened a week before New Year's Eve,” Peter says. “It was a blast.”
The Rose began blooming during stormy weather. “Shortly after we opened, the stock market crashed. Then IBM closed in Kingston,” says Rose. “But we toughed it out.” Tough it out they did, filling in the details that would make their dream thrive: fruit, vegetable, and flower gardens; a greenhouse; a frog pond; an upstairs apartment; and a gracious brick courtyard. Twenty years later, the vision became complete: the original tavern became a four-room inn with an intimate 26-seat dining room. “When we added lodging, the dream came full circle,” says Rose. “ Since then, they’ve added the heated three-season saltwater pool.
The food alone, however, has long been enough to keep folks coming back, “We’ve always been keen on putting a variety of vegetables on the plate, and smoked duckling has been on our menu from day one,” says Peter. “We enjoy exploring different cuts of meat, heirloom vegetables, and a full range of methods: roasting, pickling, smoking, curing, and braising.”
“The food is prepared either by Peter or me,” adds Rose, “so nothing leaves the kitchen without our personal attention. Our style is deeply rooted in classic techniques and influenced by the food we grow.”
Peter and Rose’s personal style pervades a guest’s experience; raves for the smoked duckling share space with raves about Peter’s knack for extending an open-arms welcome—while fastidiously avoiding the clingy intrusiveness that plagues some small-scale hostelries.
Like a fine wine served with the perfect entrée, the DiSclafanis were plainly born to complement each other. “I'm a seed catalog junkie: I plan my gardens all year long,” says Rose. “We bounce food ideas off of each other. Peter’s response is not always what I want to hear, but that's what pushes me.”
“Rose has been a vegetarian since her teens but is always pitching a meat dish to me,” says Peter. “We've been in the kitchen together for over 30 years, yet we still surprise each other. If I can eat some dessert she's made, I'm happy and in love all over again.”
”I began making ice cream a few years ago,” says Rose. “My mother’s family had an ice cream business in Versailles, so it’s apparently in my DNA.”
Inspirations are sourced everywhere and anytime, from fresh-right-this-minute to generations back.
“We also added burgers a few years ago,” says Peter, “for late check-ins, and just because people like burgers. And we’ve found double appetizers or half dinners are a hit. Customers like to bring in friends to share what they enjoyed. Nothing is more satisfying than having the children of customers become customers with their own families.”
The secret ingredients at Catskill Rose are clearly priceless: a true partnership, realized dreams, and the quiet joy that surrounds people doing what they love most. “I love being able to roll out of bed and know I'm home all day,” says Rose. “I love being able to take a dip in the pool after painting or splitting wood. Puttering in the garden doesn't feel like a chore, nor does cooking; it feels like an essential part of the ideal day.”
5355 Route 212, Mount Tremper