Ithaca, N.Y. — An Italian restaurant in lower Collegetown run by husband-wife team Sam Epps and Kami Drake opened for business last Friday.

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The soft launch of Gola Osteria at 115 South Quarry Street “went pretty flawless,” Drake said in an email. The restaurant is now open for reservations and is hoping to get its liquor license on Monday.

“All has gone amazing and social media reviews from patrons have been great,” Drake said. “We accepted 50 people each night.”

The hours, according to Drake: “Tuesday-thurs, 5-10; Friday-sat, 5-11; Sundays 5-9; closed Mondays. For now. Subject to change.”

And yes, in case you were wondering, the restaurant is taking New Year’s reservations.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 10.05.20 AM
Grilled octopus at Gola Osteria. “GOLA IS READY FOR SOME ACTION! We are accepting reservations today 5-9pm,” the caption on the restaurant’s Facebook page states.

Below is The Voice’s write-up of the restaurant from Dec. 2:

By Sara Karlson

Ithaca, N.Y. — Husband and wife team Sam Epps and Kami Drake are opening a new Italian restaurant called “Gola Osteria” in Ithaca’s lower Collegetown this December.

“I’ve literally dedicated all of my adult life to learning about Italian food and cooking Italian food,” says Epps, who studied at the French Culinary Institute and has taught “How to Cook Italian” to tourists at Toscana Saporita in Tuscany.

“It will be as if you were eating food in Italy.”

“Gola” is the Italian word for “gorge.” The owners wanted to give the restaurant — at 115 South Quarry Street, near the Collegetown Terrace Apartments — a name that had a connection to Ithaca.

Little peek at our deck….Hurry spring! It’s going to be lively! Very lively!

A photo posted by Gola Osteria (@gola_osteria) on

Coming soon, Gola Osteria!!! A photo posted by Gola Osteria (@gola_osteria) on

The Quarry Arms building, where "Gola Osteria" will go.
The Quarry Arms building, where “Gola Osteria” will go.
The menu
The menu

The restaurant is broken into three separate rooms — a bar lounge, a dining area, and a small VIP area that can also be reserved for large groups eating together. During the warmer months, outdoor patio dining will also be available.

Gola Osteria plans to also offer holiday catering, limited to large platters (for pick up) that can be ordered by local businesses or for private parties.

“Most importantly, we want people to come in here and have a good time.”

Epps and Drake once worked together at The Coddington, a restaurant in Ithaca that has since closed.

“I hired Sam as a bus boy….three months into his bus boy experience, I fired him,” Drake says about Epps.

“I think he belongs in the kitchen.”

After the Coddington restaurant closed in 2005 Kami worked as a manager in the restaurant industry in Greenwich, Connecticut. While in Italy, Epps met Mario Batali, a world renowned chef. After coming back from Italy, Epps worked at Babbo in New York City and later ran the kitchen of the Tarry Lodge (owned by Mario Batali and Andy Nusser) in Port Chester, New York, for six years. The couple then went back to Italy — this time together — to ‘gather knowledge’ on Italian cooking before finally coming back to Ithaca.

Over the last 10 years the couple has moved around quite a bit, but coming back to Ithaca was always in their plans.

Epps and (Courtesy of Gola's Facebook page)
Epps and Drake (Courtesy of Gola’s Facebook page)

They’ve found a property at 115 South Quarry Street that is owned by Collegetown landlord John Novarr and at the base of the Collegetown Terrace, a set of new apartment buildings that brought 1,050 new bedrooms to Collegetown, according to the Cornell Sun. Gola Osteria will go in what was once the Quarry Arms Apartment Building, a former hospital and adult care facility with historically designation from the city.

The couple says buying local is important to them and they will be supporting the local economy as much as they can, including serving wine from local wineries.

The walls of Gola Osteria are decorated with paintings done by Stan Taft, a Cornell professor. The subjects of the paintings are buildings in Italy.

But their home, they stress, is right here.

“We are so happy to be back in Ithaca,” Epps says. “Ithaca is home and it will forever be.”

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.