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

Exterior photo of Kitchen A Trattoria in St

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

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.

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.

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

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