ITA Kitchen to Open Third Restaurant Location in East Moriches
ITA Kitchen’s founders Salvatore and Christina Sorrentino likely couldn’t have predicted they would be in a position to open a third location just a few years after the restaurant’s Bay Shore venue opened in 2019.
But that’s exactly the case as the husband-and-wife management team readies to open their modern Italian ITA Kitchen on the water in East Moriches on the site of the former Coral Tapas and Wine Bar on Atlantic Avenue.
“We took a leap of faith on a concept I wanted to try for so long — “modern Italian,’” says chef Sal, commenting on ITA Kitchen’s overall concept that he and his wife brainstormed.
“We literally threw everything we had into opening ITA Bay Shore,” he says, noting that the location opened just ahead of the pandemic.
The second ITA Kitchen opened in Garden City late last year.
“When Christina and I decided to change up the style of Italian dishes we were accustomed to, we knew we had to really execute a well-thought-out menu that ensured we would stand out from other restaurants. I’m proud to say we have exceeded that expectation.”
Looking back on his start in the restaurant business, Sal recalls his parents working long and hard hours starting with their first restaurant, La Pizza in Lake George. There were many restaurants along the way before they left the industry, selling off the popular Italian restaurant chain Matteo’s, which he had created with his family.
“I watched for years as my father and mother dedicated many hours of their time within this industry and I knew that is exactly where I wanted to be,” recalls chef Sal, whose first job in the kitchen was at the salad station at Matteo’s of Bellmore.
“My father always had the mentality that you started from the ground up. I always loved being ‘on the line’— order posso (yelling out orders to the rest of the cooking line) — and the fast-paced environment that surrounds a commercial kitchen,” he says.
He adds that in 2010, after his father had died, he and his family opened Andrea’s 25 (pronounced “Aundrea” as in “Andrew,” in Italian), named after his father.
“The place had a really good run…and then I left the group in 2019 to start ITA Kitchen with my wife Christina.”
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Asked about ITA’s menu and specialties, he explains that he loves the idea of taking traditional dishes and adding his own spin to them.
One example is ITA’s eggplant Marco, made of layers of crispy fried eggplant, sauteed spinach, sweet, sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, and a decadent caper-infused marinara sauce with a touch of cream.
Signature dishes include pesto risotto balls; chicken burrata Caprese; four-cheese mac and cheese; and homemade ricotta gnocchi.
Other ITA specialties include tableside made-fresh mozzarella served warm and layered with prosciutto, sliced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, and a dollop of ricotta.
For ITA’s East Moriches venue, Sal says that while the Sorrentinos wanted to stay true to who they are as a brand, it made sense to add some seafood to the menu, including cold seafood options, more salads, and fish dishes, to cater to guests that specifically come to waterside restaurants.
Asked about challenges, Sal says that while there are challenges in the restaurant business, the key is “how you choose to overcome them to keep creating and setting the bar high.”
For example, when the pandemic began, the Sorrentinos recall that they were fortunate to keep their staff working by rotating shifts as their employees chose during the height of it.
“Business has come back and is thriving. We truly never had a staffing issue because we’ve been in the business for so long with many loyal employees.”
The owners say that most of their staff members, particularly in the kitchen, have been working with them for 20-plus years, helping to keep turnover low.
They add that the cost of goods can be a hindrance if you’re not on top of your spending, which is a pivotal part of the business.
“We train and work diligently with our teams, so we are all aware of spending.”
While Sal is the creator of the ITA brand, which stands for “Italian American Kitchen,” he also oversees all the kitchens, with each kitchen having its own head chef.
William Turcios is the chef/partner in Bay Shore, Manuel Velasquez is the head chef in Garden City, and Sal’s brother Matthew Sorrentino will handle chef duties in East Moriches.
The Sorrentinos predict “pure excitement” for their newest venue in East Moriches as well as for their other two locations, excitement which they say depends on their dedicated team members.
“ITA Kitchen is truly a labor of love,” the Sorrentinos say.
“From our partners to every team member, we wouldn’t have these restaurants without them putting in their incredible work ethic, time, and expertise, day in and day out.”
ITA Kitchen East Moriches is scheduled to open at the end of May. It is located at 215 Atlantic Ave., in East Moriches. It can be reached at itakitchen.com.
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