Arlo Kitchen & Bar in Northport is the culmination of dreams and visions coming together.
Chef Walter Huezo came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2014 with a dream of becoming a chef.
Steve Squitiro and Andrew Affa of the Standard Hospitality Group also had their own vision of opening a fine dining restaurant.
“It’s been about 25 years working towards this goal (of opening Arlo Kitchen),” says Affa, who began his career humbly, as a busboy in a pizzeria in Bellmore. He adds that his cousins had restaurants in New Jersey and that he worked with them during many summers.
Affa says that although he attended college, he never lost touch with the restaurant business, even while exploring other careers.
“I come from a Sicilian family, so food’s always been a focal point in my house,” he says. “I love to cook, have a passion for food, and over the years I’ve worked very hard to learn every facet of the industry. It’s been a truly creative process,” he says.
“I got sucked into the business and never left,” he adds, summing up his entry to the hospitality business.
Asked about how Arlo Kitchen & Bar, which opened in late December, got its start, Affa explains that Standard Hospitality Group acquired the 2 acres of property in Northport on Route 25A, formerly the site of the now-defunct Crestwood Manor banquet hall, in 2019.
Squitiro and Affa formed Standard Hospitality Group in 2017 and in addition to Arlo Kitchen, the company now operates several restaurants and catering venues, including Mission Taco in Huntington, the soon-to-open The James, replacing the Babylon Carriage House, The Piermont in Babylon, and The Standard at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset.
Other key members of the Standard Hospitality team include Thomas Moran, who is the general manager of Arlo and Jose Estevez, who leads operations at the company.
Referring to the full renovation and redesign, Affa and Squitiro say that they couldn’t be happier with how Arlo Kitchen turned out.
“We put a lot into the design of this building,” says Squitiro.
Affa adds, “Situated on a hilltop, it’s a multilevel dining experience, featuring a first-floor dining room with an open kitchen… We’ve brought back some classic feels, such as mid-century furnishings and carpentry. The concept behind the place should remind people of what fine dining truly is.”
Squitiro also notes that they “agonized” over some of Arlo’s finer points, such as the interior design and even the venue’s outdoor patio. He calls Arlo’s overall design “open yet intimate.”
Affa explains that Arlo will focus on using the highest quality and best sourced ingredients. For example, he says they are working with farms in the Midwest for high-quality meats, including up to 60-day dry-aged, prime steaks, a porterhouse for two, a 24-ounce ribeye, and a New York strip steak.
Other unique touches include a restored baby grand piano to incorporate live music into the venue’s elegant, but unpretentious, vibe. Arlo will also provide catering and events services.
Prices, Affa says, will be approachable, and the menu will include classic dishes such as chicken Parmigiana, pasta dishes such as lobster pappardelle, fresh raw bar offerings such as oysters, and wild-caught seafood like salmon and halibut.
“What will set Arlo apart is a high level of hospitality that provides a superior guest experience,” he says.
Desserts include a now hard to find table-side baked Alaska, rosemary creme brulee, chocolate peanut butter mousse cake, and an apple crostata.
Asked about challenges, Affa says that food costs are “constantly adjusting,” and that staffing continues to be difficult.
But he says “Our chef is incredible… it’s been a creative, collective process to arrive at the final menu.”
And, in the kitchen, Chef Huezo is making his own dream to be a chef come true.
Huezo recalls that as early as 9, he helped prepare the family meal.
He recalls getting his first job as a dishwasher in a deli and then working his way up to learning how to grill steaks.
Huezo says he kept “reading books and watching videos” to learn about cooking until landing his first job as a culinary assistant at Del Frisco’s Grille in Huntington. From there, he did several stints at local venues including in Bay Shore, and at City Winery in Manhattan.
“Arlo Kitchen is the opportunity of my dreams,” he says.
Huezo’s menu includes a signature Arlo salad with radicchio, endive, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds as well as a duck breast with parsnip puree, fried Brussel sprouts, and a blackberry gastrique.
Huezo, a passionate chef, says, “I believe that cooking is a way to express your passion for your profession…the culinary arts is one of those professions where you can show your love through your dishes.”
Arlo Kitchen & Bar is located at 1036 Fort Salonga Rd., Northport. They can be reached at 631-491-2756. Visit at arlokitchenandbar.com.
Arlo Kitchen & Bar will participate in Taste the Greats on March 2 at The Mansion at Oyster Bay. For more information about the event, visit TasteTheGreats.com.