Fresh pasta and traditional Italian food are now being served up in Eltham.
Lucano’s Pasta Italian restaurant is now open in place of the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant, which closed in July. The restaurant held a soft opening on Sunday and will hold a grand opening on Jan. 2.
The restaurant will focus on traditional pasta dishes such as spaghetti and penne alla vodka, as well as specials including seafood lasagna, according to owner Alex Amaya.
Amaya is no stranger to the restaurant business; he owns El Ranchero Mexican restaurant in West Point, which has been open for nearly 10 years.
A small group was at Sunday’s soft opening as it was not advertised, but some customers who they serve at El Ranchero stopped by, according to Amaya.
“It went well, we opened earlier just to give people the opportunity to try us out since we have all our licenses minus the alcohol license,” Amaya said. “We still have some stuff to fix up like the landscaping as well as get our other sign designed and up on the mount. We are open but are going to hold the grand opening once everything is set.”
Amaya actually owned a restaurant in the same building more than 10 years ago, called Lario’s, which served Mexican and Italian food.
“We were open for a year and a half starting in 2007,” he said. “We closed because we had problems with the old landlord who used to own the hotel next door.”
Amaya and his family also owned a Mexican restaurant in downtown West Point, Casa Maya, from 2001-2006, which they had to close after a kitchen fire.
He and his wife Elizabeth moved from El Salvador to Williamsburg in 1994. They moved to the New Kent area in 2000.
Amaya began working in the restaurant industry at Sal’s by Victor, an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg, where he learned the ropes of the kitchen and how to cook Italian food.
“I worked there for nine years and was mentored by one of their former chefs,” Amaya said. “He taught me a lot about Italian food and food in general.”
Amaya said he always wanted to own his own restaurant and now that he owns one and has owned others in the past, he wants to expand and provide good food and service all over the community.
“It’s a passion of mine. I love serving the community and getting to know new people,” Amaya said.
Construction on Lucano’s began in October and Amaya has installed a new fire alarm system, tables, booths, chairs and decor.
As for the name, Amaya said he and his daughter, Carla Amaya, who will be a hostess and has helped with the construction process, were looking online for an Italian name and it just clicked.
Amaya said he would love to pass his restaurants down to his daughter, who is studying business administration and management at Rappahannock Community College, or his son Mario. He said the restaurant business is a family business.
While the restaurant focuses primarily on pasta, the menu also has pizza, sub sandwiches and salads. Desserts include Italian delicacies such as tiramisu and cannolis, along with cheesecake and carrot cake.
The restaurant will eventually serve wine, beer and cocktails, but is currently however not for the first month of operation as they are still in the process of applying for their license from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, according to Amaya.
The space features two big dining rooms, a bar and decorative items that will remind guests of Italy, paintings of wine and the coast of Italy. The restaurant is almost fully staffed, with Amaya’s managing partner Alberto Campos being one of the three cooks, although they are looking to hire one or two additional waitresses/waiters.
The location is central to neighboring localities and brings more food options to residents.
“There really aren’t any food spots in Eltham or Barhamsville,” Amaya said. “Our location is great for people that don’t want to go all the way into New Kent or West Point, as well as for people coming from the interstate, since we are right on Route 33.”
New Kent Economic Development Director Matthew Smolnik said the restaurant opening in Eltham shows growth is happening across the county.
“Redevelopment of a site is just as important as development,” he said. “It’s a resurgence up in Eltham, and it’s great to see that and this restaurant coming to the community. We are seeing the general momentum pick up across the county, not just in one specific area.”
Check it out
Lucano’s is located in Eltham on Route 30 at 18940 Motel Drive.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with the possibility of adding breakfast in the future, according to Amaya.
The restaurant is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, email@example.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter