They spent three months experimenting in the kitchen.
Fred Mandato had the easy job.
He got to sample every dish churned out by Italian native Fabrizio Perinelli as the two put together a menu for Aria Melanie On The Lake — Bay Shore’s newest restaurant.
“I was introduced to Fabrizio and we hit it off personally, and then he began preparing sample dishes for us to consider and we spent that time putting the menu together,” Mandato said.
Mandato, a CPA from Huntington, had already secured the restaurant location overlooking Lawrence Lake when the two met in Huntington Village.
At the time, Perinelli was cooking at his second well-known restaurant in the village.
“Now they have six locations,” Perinelli said. “I started as an intern, and then did prep work and then they started letting me make some pastas and work the grill, stuff like that.
“Just working next to him, you learn so much.”
From there he headed back to Long Island and worked with another known chef, Lia Fallon, before a car accident forced the closure of her restaurant Amarelle in Wading River.
Perinelli wound up in Huntington, where he married last year.
That was also where Mandato discovered him.
“I was thinking about opening a restaurant for about 18 months and spent most of that time looking for the right location,” Mandato said. “When I got word that this location was becoming available, I immediately got in my car and came right down and it was full steam for me.”
Mandato took over the building April 1 and got to work on the renovations.
He built a patio in the back and ringed the courtyard and certain areas around the lake with ambient lighting.
He painted, added new carpet, floors, bathrooms, wainscoting and light fixtures throughout.
That, and he added a large, outdoor canopy with climate control for year-round use.
Aside from dinner, the restaurant will be offering an extensive breakfast and brunch menu from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The menu is described as Modern Mediterranean. The restaurant will lean on French and Italian cuisine, but borrow from Spain, Greece and Northern Africa.
Menu items include:
Eggplant Caponata Crostini from the Antipasti (appetizer) menu
Lasagnette Ricce & Kale from the Primi (pasta) menu
Long Island Duck Breast with a wild cherry demi-glace from the Secondi (entrées) menu
Despite his Italian roots, Perinelli said he’s actually partial to the French style of cooking, which he said is refined in its simplicity.
“I get inspired by the French,” he said.
The Italian items on the menu will be southern Italian in nature, he said.
“But you won’t veal parmigiana or chicken parm,” Mandato said. “No penne a’la vodka here.”
“I’m a financier,” he said of his reasons for wanting to run a restaurant, where he plans to be most every day, even though he hired a manager and bar manager. “I have a concentration of financing and operating relatively small businesses, entrepreneurial businesses, but I’ve never done a restaurant before.
“At this stage of my life, I said to myself I want to do something different.”
Photo caption: Aria Melanie owner Fred Mandato and chef Fabrizio Perinelli at the restaurant Thursday. (Michael White)