When mulling a business partner, mothers-in-law may not be the first people who necessarily spring to mind. Chef James Malone and his mother-in-law, Annamae Russo, have ditched that cliche, though, and opened a breakfast-and-lunch cafe together in Bellport.
The 65-seat Rooster's Cafe opened just after Memorial Day in a sunny spot on Station Road, and with dishes that Malone has honed during a 25-year career in kitchens.
Malone said he and Russo had been working on the plans for Rooster's for nearly six years while they looked for the right location -- and found it inside the former Basil's Restaurant and Spirits, which they have been renovating since the winter. "It's a great spot, and we love Bellport. There is something special about it, the antiquey-ness of it," said Malone, who began his culinary career as a dishwasher at Claudio's in Greenport, and worked his way up to chef at a medley of restaurants on the North Fork and Suffolk's North Shore, including The Flying Pig Cafe in Miller Place.
Rooster's wide-ranging menu is designed to meet Bellport's diverse dietary proclivities, said Malone. "Healthy, nonhealthy, gluten-free, vegetarian, sugar addicts — we wanted to touch on everybody," he said. To kick off the morning are egg sandwiches and wraps, plus eggs Benedicts, omelets, pancakes (a gluten-free version is made with almond flour), French toast and waffles, most ringing in from $4 to $11. Pastries are far from rote: Muffins, pies, cakes and turnovers are baked on the premises by Sandra Russ Sotke, Annamae Russo's daughter and James Malone's sister-in-law. (They're really keeping it in the family.)
The salad, sandwich and burger lunch options include a "Beyond Meat" vegan burger with grilled onions and avocado for $12, and a Sicilian Buttercup sandwich of roasted tomatoes and red peppers on ciabatta with basil, sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella for $10. Rooster's is also turning out $5.25 "farmhouse frappés" in flavors such as S'mores and Oreo, as well egg creams and coffee, espresso and cappuccino from East End Coffee Roasters beans.
Rooster's is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Malone said both outdoor seating and weekend dinners will be added over the summer.
Rooster's Cafe, 14 Station Rd., Bellport. 631-803-2993.