LAKE LEELANAU — Eric Nittolo served as a chef for more than 15 years before running his own kitchens in northern Michigan.
He fired up Nittolo’s Pizza in late February, and started reeling in customers at Nittolo’s Seafood and Social a few weeks ago. Separated by a hallway, these Lake Leelanau eateries offer different fare.
On the seafood side, Nittolo said he aims to provide “high-end service” and “high-quality proteins.” This has been his model throughout his culinary career.
“We buy point-of-capture fish,” he said. “We’re buying the best of what’s available, regardless of price.”
The menu features mainly items from the sea, with wagyu beef — from America and Japan — and lamb dishes. Plus, Nittolo said a sommelier assists with wine selection.
“We wanted to branch out into a cuisine and proteins people don’t know or wouldn’t get elsewhere,” he said.
Diners order three courses when they sit down and can add appetizers and desserts, if desired.
“People are super happy with the menu,” Nittolo said. “You’re never rushed. You reserve a table, not a time, and it’s yours all night. It’s very European.”
Nittolo said a lunchtime menu will fall under the “social” part of the restaurant. He wants his restaurant to act as a “dining destination.”
Travis Murdock met Nittolo in culinary school in the early 2000s. Murdock said Nittolo enjoys taking care of people, particularly by feeding them.
“Eric is an extremely passionate guy,” Murdock said. “He loves using local resources.”
He added that Nittolo’s Seafood and Social emphasizes sustainable ingredients and is innovative, especially for the Grand Traverse region.
“The restaurant is going to probably exceed his expectations,” Murdock said.
The plan, Nittolo said, is to serve sit-down meals regularly until Halloween and then offer date nights on Fridays and Saturdays through December. Nittolo’s Seafood and Social will close for the winter and reopen in April. Outdoor seating is available this summer.
Currently, the seafood restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Nittolo said every night has sold out so far and people are starting to book tables for June and July. Mother’s Day brunch and dinner may be available May 9, though tables are limited during the pandemic. Call 231-994-2400 to make a reservation.