After operating Gemelli Ristorante for 21 years, the owners of the landmark Italian restaurant on Babylon’s East Main Street are changing things up.
They told GreaterBabylon the name is changing to Gemelli Italian Kitchen & Bar, as they’re looking to establish a more contemporary vibe for the restaurant.
“We wanted to go in a new direction because things change over time,” said owner George Cosentino, who opened Gemelli in 1997. “We want to move from a special occasion place to a spot you can eat every day of the week.”
To do that, George brought in a new chef that he believes will take his “classical, old-school ways” and modernize them.
“Italian food is typically thought of as very heavy and unhealthy,” said Gemelli’s new chef, Kelvin Moreno. “We’re keeping the classic flavors but the presentation is different.”
Moreno, who specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, brought in a new menu that is flooded with fresh ingredients. It is also seasonal-based.
“Every day [George] and I go to the local markets to buy ingredients for the day,” said Moreno. “It is not convenient for us, but you can taste the difference.”
Gemelli Italian Kitchen & Bar will be keeping its hit recipes, like its Pappardelle Bolognese, but the styling will change.
“We don’t want to overwhelm people with big portions; that overtakes the flavors,” said George. “We want you to decipher the different flavors on your plate so it pops in your mouth.
And they don’t want you having leftovers.
“I don’t want people leaving with bags,” George said. “I want people eating everything on that dish. That, to me, is like a home run.”
Since rolling out the menu earlier this year, the owners patrons are appreciating the new style.
“We’ve been playing around with many ideas, and I am really started to get a feel of what the local palate is all about,” said Moreno, who lives in Holbrook.
One hit dish has been the polpo salad and its “complex flavors” that are helped out by the capers and lemon juice.
In addition to dinner, Gemelli wants to attract a lunch scene with its new midday menu.
“For lunch, we have plenty of dishes that are quick, refreshing, and clean eating,” said Moreno.
As far as drinks go, George wants to highlight the bar area, which has been expanded over the past couple years.
One way to do that was to bring in an Italian happy hour menu, called aperitivo.
“In Italy, after work Italians want to unwind and get ready to eat,” explained Stephanie Cosentino, George’s wife. “For happy hour, they have cocktails that open up their palate.”
Within the next few weeks, Gemelli’s will be adding the apretivo hour Tuesdays though Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. During that time, they’ll also be offering complimentary small plates.
“It’s getting a drink for a purpose,” said Stephanie.
Other than that, the last thing to be changed will be the signage at 175 East Main Street. According to the owners, Gemelli’s is waiting for approvals by the Village of Babylon to update the name.
“We lightened the fare a little bit,” said George. “You can come in here have a pizza, a couple drinks, or you can have a three-course meal.”
Top: Gemelli Italian Kitchen & Bar owner George Cosentino with his wife Stephanie in front of their restaurant in Babylon Village.