Chef Andrew Garbarino is carrying on a family tradition: serving authentic Italian food and fine wine to the masses.
His namesake restaurant opens April 12 in East Liberty as a tribute to the original Garbarino’s, a Long Island institution that his great-aunt ran for 51 years.
“When I decided to open an Italian concept, I thought to myself, ‘Why not resurrect the family restaurant and all of its wonderful recipes?’ I immediately called my cousins, who were the last to own the restaurant, for stories and menu ideas,” Garbarino says. “I worked on a menu that was based on stories from family and created my own ways of preparing them.”
The new trattoria is located at 5925 Baum Blvd., in the former La Riviera Bistro, a casual southern French restaurant Garbarino debuted in 2018 to complement The Twisted Frenchman, which still occupies the building’s second floor. Before venturing out on his own, the Culinary Institute of America graduate worked at Spoon in East Liberty and Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon.
Family recipes that originated in Genoa, Italy dominate the menu. There are daily specials, appetizers, soups, salads and entrees such as Veal Chop Parmesan, Chicken Piccata and Gnocchi Ratatouille with bell pepper, eggplant, tomato and zucchini.
All pastas are made in-house using locally sourced ingredients. Complimentary garlic bread and Italian butter will be served with every meal.
“I still meet people from Long Island who can remember the smell of garlic bread as they walked into the door of the original Garbarino’s,” the chef says.
Folks on a gluten-free diet can still fill up at Garbarino’s; there are several gluten-free options and pasta substitutions are available at no extra cost. Through the end of April, Garbarino’s customers can take advantage of a 30 percent off promotion on food, wines by the glass and cocktails. Diners can book reservations via OpenTable starting April 1.
In addition to specialty drinks and a rotating wine list boasting a variety of high-end French and Italian vino by the bottle and glass, Garbarino’s will serve Peroni, a popular Italian beer. Fans of the brew can enjoy Peroni-battered artichoke hearts served with a bucket of the pale lager.
To celebrate the April 12 grand opening, Campari America and Aperol — Italian apéritifs — will sponsor a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m.
How does Garbarino plan to stand out in a crowded restaurant market?
“The combination of fresh pasta made in-house, an excellent Italian wines by the glass program, our best cocktail menu to date and a true Italian name behind it,” he says.