With two successful restaurants already in St. James, chef and restaurant owner Eric Lomando was approached about an open location in Miller Place.
The owner of and loved the location, the historic Daniel Miller House, which dates back to the early 1800’s, and opened on Feb. 4.
“It’s far enough away from our other restaurants that we’re not necessarily competing with ourselves, which is a good thing at this point,” Lomando said. “It seems like a very close community…which is nice. It seems very welcoming, definitely community oriented and hopefully we can provide them with a nice place to eat, drink and hang out.”
Even though, Orto has experienced steady business as they work out the kinks.
“It’s a mix of our customers from others restaurants and definitely some local people, it seems good so far,” he said. “Saturday was very busy. We found out we have some work to do to get things up to where we want, but the last couple nights there has been enough people in here to start to get a sense of things."
Lomando started his career in the restaurant industry as a busboy at the age of 14. From there, he washed dishes, started doing prep work and worked at various positions learning the ins and outs of the industry before he opened Kitchen A Bistro in 2001.
He moved the bistro to its current location in 2009 and opened Kitchen A Trattoria in the original space. The young chef spent some time at culinary school but points to the hands on work as the key to his success.
“They don’t teach you the right things [at culinary school] and the emphasis was misdirected,” he said. “It’s being on the job, working hands on and constantly evaluation ‘how can this taste better?’
Orto serves Rustic Italian cuisine with a menu that changes daily, featuring market and seasonal driven food.
“It doesn’t mean everything on the menu changes, but it changes to accommodate us to be able to use fish that maybe isn’t as heavily commercially fished,” Lomando said. “It’s stuff that’s hook and line caught but maybe I can only get 10 to 12 pounds of it today, and it’ll last me today and tomorrow."
In the early stages of the restaurant, Lomando has brought his mentality that he and his entire staff must be better today than they were yesterday.
“The expectation is that...from start to finish, whether it’s the quality of the cocktail, or the service, or the work in the kitchen by us will be better today than it was yesterday, and better tomorrow than it is today," he said. "It’s to constantly push forward and work on every single detail of what we’re doing to provide people with the best experience we can.”