By Ivan Pereira
Bayside is now home to the first branch of the La Bottega Italian restaurant chain, but its manager and chef promises that diners will get a one-of-a-kind experience and meal every time they come through his doors.
The restaurant, which opened in November at 42-29 Bell Blvd., has been busy, according to John Pedro, the restaurant’s manager. People not only like the wide selection of paninis, the most popular dish, and other menu selections, but they are also happy with the decor and service, Pedro said.
“It’s not like coming to a restaurant. It’s like coming to someone’s house,” he said. “You’re a friend of the family.”
The restaurant has its panini selection right at the front of the establishment and patrons can choose from 65 different varieties of the sandwich. Pedro said the selection is what sets La Bottega apart from the other Italian restaurants on the boulevard because there are not a lot that have a strong panini menu.
The sandwiches are not the only unique aspect of the eatery, according to the manager. Although there are La Bottegas throughout New York state, the administrators give carte blanche to the chefs of the individual restaurants for their entree menus.
Pedro said he turned to Timothy Chenkini, a friend of his who worked in a restaurant in Flushing, to be the head of the restaurant’s kitchen. Chenkini said he is interested in fusion dishes and that include crushed salmon with wasabi.
“I like to mix and match,” the chef said.
The rear of the establishment is where the main dining area is located. The restaurant can currently seat 80 people at one time, but in the spring it will open its outdoor area, according to Pedro. In addition, La Bottega Bayside offers parties, catering and take-out services for interested customers.
Pedro said he is happy with the restaurant’s early weeks and said his experience, along with the hometown touch that the owner, Pasquale Malinconico, a Bayside native brings, has helped to keep the staff working hard.
Pedro started his 25-year track record in the restaurant business at the age of 19 by starting his own catering service and worked with different chains, including Sbarro, where he trained employees from around the world.
“It’s been a great experience,” the New Jersey native said of his career.
For more information on LaBottega Bayside, log on to bellpanini.com.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.