Kitchen A Trattoria in St. James: A niche of its own

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Exterior photo of Kitchen A Trattoria in St

Exterior photo of Kitchen A Trattoria in St James. (May 20, 2009) Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

Kitchen A Trattoria has been cooking since 2009. It opened after Kitchen A Bistro, also in St. James, and before Orto in Miller Place. They form chef Eric Lomando's full-flavored trifecta.

And there's much to like at his fresh, unpretentious, country-style, fairly priced restaurants. You may bring your own wine without being hit with a corkage fee. The lively menus change frequently. The food is never dull.

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But you do put up with some things, too.

The trattoria, for example, is very tight and not very comfortable. It has the weathered charm of a roadside coffee shop. And, even in this cramped space, service isn't always sharp. Credit cards: not accepted. The food may be fine, but the experience isn't consistent.

Recently, the trattoria excelled with meatballs braised in tomato sauce and served on soft polenta; and herb-crusted hake accompanied by fregola and escarole. Likewise, seared loin of pork with broccoli rabe and a risotto of farro; and airy gnocchi with spicy chicken meatballs. Tasty tiramisu, too.

But the lemon-ricotta cheesecake is on the dry side, as is the ricotta that you may spread on homey bread. So's the minimalist, underseasoned bucatini alla carbonara.

Order a la carte, or try the $50 chef's choice tasting menu for the table. Either way, a good deal.

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Kitchen A Trattoria, 532 N. Country Rd., St. James; 631-584-3518.

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