Salvatore Sorrentino has been searching Bay Shore high and low for the last five years for the perfect spot for his Italian restaurant.
It wasn’t until he was scrolling through Craiglist with his wife, Christina, that he found the best fit: the old Gino’s Pizzeria at 45 West Main Street.
“It was really random,” said Christina. “We were on Craigslist … and we jumped from there.”
That was back in February. Now, months later, Salvatore is readying to launch their new venture, ITA Kitchen (ITA is short for Italian American), later this summer.
“We love [Bay Shore] because it is so up and coming, and it has become such a restaurant scene,” said Salvatore.
Also, the Huntington couple wanted to come to the South Shore hamlet because they felt the area was lacking when it came to Italian sit-down dining options.
“Outside of pizzerias, Italian dining doesn’t really exist in this area,” Salvatore told GreaterBayShore.
He is ready to change that.
According to management, ITA Kitchen will be offering service that’s quality of fine dining but with a casual, fun-feel environment.
The restaurant, which will be 2,300 square feet, will feature a mix of booth and table seating, with a 20-foot bar.
ITA Kitchen will be open Tuesdays through Sundays with lunch and dinner menus Tuesdays through Fridays. It will be open only for dinner on the weekends.
Salvatore wants to leave the weekend mornings open for private events.
“We’re going to be offering a very eclectic menu,” said ITA’s manager, Nick Puelo. “We are using an Italian base to make creative dishes.”
Some of those spins include broccoli rabe with sausage egg rolls, meatballs the “size of softballs” filled with veal, New York strip steak and pork sausage topped with ricotta, and a four-cheese mac and cheese.
All of those dishes became available for locals to try this summer when ITA Kitchen began serving food during the Alive by the Bay street festivals.
“The reaction has been great,” said Christina. “People keep telling us this was the one thing missing to the area.”
This isn’t the first rodeo for the 37-year-old when it comes to serving up Italian-American dishes. At 18, he began working as a chef at his family’s restaurants. The family previously owned Matteo Restaurants, which has locations in New York and Florida, and now operates Andrea’s 25 in Commack.
“I was kind of thrown into it,” he said. “But I loved it instantly; I love the controlled chaos.”
Among his favorite dishes to make is his Shrimp Luciano, which is served in a white wine lemon butter sauce with a touch of marinara, and sauteed spinach.
According to Salvatore, his menu will be 90 percent different from his family eateries.
“I am really excited to get open,” he said. “I am ready for something new, something different.”
Scroll down to see photos outside ITA Kitchen during this past Alive by the Bay festival.
Top: Salvatore Sorrentino and his wife Christina outside ITA Kitchen in Bay Shore.