An old, familiar friend is on its way back to Great Neck Plaza.
La Rotonda, which originally opened on Middle Neck Road in 2002 and moved to 8 Bond Street two years later until the Italian restaurant suddenly closed last June, is scheduled to return in May to that historic building, pending approval of its permit application by Plaza officials.
“We’re going to do some alterations first,” said George Pecoraro, who first started working at La Rotonda almost 14 years ago. Pecoraro, the executive chef up until the closure, is the key to the re-opening of the restaurant, along with a new partner. ”Everything is going to be run pretty much the same way as before.”
“We’re going to refresh some things but nothing major,” he explained. “The menu is going to stay pretty much the same. There might be a couple of dishes that weren’t moving that we’ll take out and just run them as specials every now and then.”
The restaurant will re-open with a 60-seat capacity and will not occupy the additional space it had recently used. The restaurant was originally designed by the late Great Neck architect, Frank Gencorelli, who passed away a year ago.
Pecoraro, who has been a Great Neck resident for about three years, is very excited about his new venture. “It feels like a homecoming,” he said. “I’ve been here for so long. It feels like home when I’m here. I feel like I belong here.”
“A lot of people have reached out to me and told me that they’ve heard from mutual friends that they miss us there. I’m excited about opening up again.”
He’s also appreciative of the help and assistance he’s received from Patrick Silberstein, the owner of the 1926 Bond Street building that has a federally designated landmark status.
“He’s great,” Pecoraro said about the owner, who has painstakingly restored the building. “He does whatever he can to help. He’s got a lot of pride in the building.”
“He makes sure that we can do what we need to do to make the place succeed. He gave us a really good lease. He worked with us. He understood that because we had closed and were coming back, we worked out a very fair lease.”
Pecoraro’s signature dish has always been a baby rack of lamb. His lamb chops are drizzled with port wine reduction and served with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes. “I love cooking,” he said. “It’s something that I always wanted to do since I got out of high school. I learned a lot just working on the job at a lot of different restaurants.”
In addition to his specialty, Pecoraro promises that his diners will be able to choose from a diverse menu of chicken, veal and shrimp dishes, steaks, salmon, eggplant and pastas. He also plans to offer gluten free pasta and whole-wheat pasta and an extensive children’s menu.