Nine years after Greenport debuted, today, Marc LaMaina’s Lucharitos chain of restaurants opens in Melville. It is the largest of the Mexican chain’s five locations, the furthest west and the first to have a partner, Kevin Mannix of Syosset.
The menu is very similar to the original Greenport. Appetizers ($12 to $22) include fried “Mexican ribs,” lobster guacamole, and jalapeño poppers with bacon. Other dishes feature fillings that range from the traditional (beef carne asada, pork carnitas, chicken adobo) to the creative (roast pork, roasted local duck, coconut shrimp). Choose from burritos ($14 to $17), tacos (orders $11 to $14), nachos ($12 to $18), quesadillas ($9 to $16), and bowls ($8 to $15). ).
The bar has a great selection of tequila. Margheritas are made with fresh, homemade fruit puree and signature drinks including Paloma (tequila, grapefruit, and soda topped with tagine seasoning) and Lucha Punch (light and dark rum, Malibu, orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice).
At 80 seats (plus more outside), the dining room is a bountiful mix of tilework — squiggly turquoise subway tiles on the wall, black and white painting on the bar — plus a tropical mural by Greenport artist Kara Hoblin, and of course, luchadores paintings and prints, The extravagantly equipped Mexican wrestlers of the series’ namesake. LaMaina created the design himself, noting that most of its items are from Lowe’s. (One exception: the floral oilcloth that covers some of the tables is supplied by an eBay seller in Mexico.)
Lamina said the restaurant’s success will depend on its employees. General Manager Thomas Martino is a veteran of Chili’s and TGI Fridays; Executive Chef Joe Tafforelli has led corporate kitchens and fine dining.
Lucharitos started in 2012 in a small Greenport storefront where LaMaina originally opened a bakery café called Butta’Cakes. In 2015 it expanded into the adjacent space and in 2017, produced Little Lucharitos, a taco stand in Aquebogue. LaMaina bought a small farm in Center Moriches, and in 2019, set up a food truck that specializes in barbecue. The complete restaurant and farm experience, called LaMaina Luchafarm, opened last year, as did the Lucharitos Burrito bar in Mattituck.
But Melville is the first purpose-built site from scratch. “This has been my dream since day one,” Lamina said. “This is a launching pad for us as a brand.” Lucharitos is the newest restaurant to open at the Melville Mall Spinoff. include its neighbors Gregory’s coffee and mediterranean express service chain, rewardIt will soon be joined by TOA Asian Fusion.
Lucharitos is located at 834B Walt Whitman Road, Melville, 631-271-3680, lucharitos.com.