Chef Peter Mistretta and his wife Ashley (a South Shore native) spent about two years looking for the right place on Long Island to bring their farm-to-table restaurant to life. Last fall, they stumbled upon a vacant property on Franklin Avenue in Garden City and they knew they found a winner. Construction quickly followed. It didn’t take long for Garden City residents to start knocking on the door of what will soon be Perennial restaurant to introduce themselves.
“That’s really reassuring and it’s been great to have the support of the community,” said Mistretta.
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After working in New York City restaurants for nearly a decade, Mistretta had long dreamed of opening up his own place. His time at the now closed Back Forty, a restaurant owned by farm-to-table pioneer Peter Hoffman, encouraged him to stay in that realm.
“Sourcing locally from a chef’s perspective means that we get the most beautiful product that’s available to us,” he said. “The first part of cooking is really about finding great ingredients…if you don’t start with the absolute best product it sort of doesn’t matter what you do to it.”
The chef, trained in Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute, is constructing a small, focused menu that highlights Long Island. Products will come from farms across the North and South Forks, which he said produce “world class ingredients.” (That will also be the case for craft beer, wine and spirits.) A strong focus on appetizers will be present without falling into the tapas category. Think a beet salad with peaches and smoked ricotta or a mezze rigatoni with short rib ragu. And many products will be made in-house, including bread and eventually pasta. Another exciting element is his plan to change the menu weekly, sometimes even within the week. “It will keep it interesting for [the community] so that if you come back week to week, there’s new and interesting things to try.”
Mistretta and his wife have spent the majority of this year building the 68-seat minimalist restaurant. Thirty four seats will be reserved for casual seating—10 of those will be at the bar. The other side of the restaurant will have 34 seats for diners who desire a longer, quieter type of setting. But no matter which side diners opt for, they won’t see any linens on the table or other elements of fine dining. Instead, they can expect a casual, reasonably priced experience where food is the main attraction.
“The goal is really to be here for a long time and fit into the community the best we can,” said Mistretta. “Hopefully it becomes something that’s ingrained in the community.”
Perennial restaurant is expected to open at 990 Franklin Ave in Garden City by the end of summer.