Review: Postmark Grille and Agave Kitchen in Hudson

Though the Postmark Grille opened in Hudson in 2012, its roots extend back to World War II, when Angelo Terranova emigrated from Sicily to Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1958, he and his brother Frank founded F&A Dairy Products to provide high-quality cheeses and pizza supplies to local restaurants.

Now based in Dresser, Wis., F&A Dairy provides the Romano, provolone and mozzarella cheeses used at Postmark Grille, which is owned by Terranova’s son, Russ Evenson, and run by his grandchildren, Erica Schletty and Derek Evenson.

Russ opened Village Pizzeria in Dresser in 1980, where he perfected the art of scratch-made pizza while teaching his children the ins and outs of running a restaurant. “We’ve all been in the restaurant business since we were able to work,” Derek says. “We learned every job, from washing dishes to hosting.”

A few years ago, the Evensons were “kind of just talking about opening another restaurant,” Derek says. “We weren’t super serious, but we were looking around Hudson, because it’s a great city and close to family.”

They toured a few options, including an old big-box family bakery, but couldn’t find a building with the character they wanted for their Italian-American restaurant until they stumbled across the old post office. “It had been on the market for a while, but it had so much potential,” Derek says.

Renovations were done by Derek’s brother-in-law Mike Schletty during summer and fall 2012. “It was a real family operation,” Derek says. “We knew we wanted to keep the building’s character and the theme of a 1940s post office, since it’s such a cool part of Hudson’s past, but at the same time make it more modern and relevant.”

Today the Postmark Grille boasts a beautiful 44-seat patio and a cozy-yet-chic dining room that features high ceilings, dark woods, plush red booths and a brick fireplace. The walls are adorned with vintage items salvaged from the building’s basement, including mail bags, letters and old city maps. Some of the items were donated or sold to the restaurant by customers and local collectors of postal memorabilia.

Like the space, the menu is a mix of old and new, with dishes inspired by old family recipes alongside adventurous specials and a long list of salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas and steaks.

“The menu has developed through the years,” says head chef Terry Moore, who is also Derek’s uncle. “We try to source produce and meat locally as much as we can, and everything is made in house except the ketchup: You can’t beat Heinz.”

Local favorites include the Italian nachos ($11.59), a hearty appetizer of fried pasta chips, mozzarella cheese and diced Bushel Boy tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and served with a choice of chicken or Italian sausage, and the spitini ($22.99), a traditional entrée based on Grandpa Angelo’s Sicilian recipe: olive oil-brushed sirloin steak slices rolled with salami, provolone cheese, Parmesan breadcrumbs and green onions, and grilled with bay leaves.

Moore always runs a fish special on the weekends, working with specialty vendors to get the freshest and highest-quality ingredients possible, with an emphasis on sustainability. “Our vendors are very conscientious, making sure our fish come from reliable fisheries [that are] respectful of our natural resources,” Moore says. Recent specials include charbroiled swordfish with mango salsa ($21.99) and wild Alaskan halibut over roasted red pepper risotto ($23.99).

Desserts, so often an afterthought at even the finest restaurants, are standouts, each one made from scratch daily by the restaurant’s pastry chef. The tiramisu ($6.50), based on Erica’s recipe, features decadent layers of lady fingers, mascarpone cheese, and a signature Kahlua and espresso blend.

“It’s a big menu, so you have to wake up ready to go every day,” Moore says. “We’re lucky to have an amazing staff that takes a lot of pride in what we’re doing here.” Derek agrees, noting that Russ often still can be found bussing tables and making pizzas. While for some people the idea of going into business with family is daunting, for the Evensons, it’s a perfect fit. “We’ve been doing this [family thing] for so long,” Derek says, “that it’s just natural to us.”