Pickerington is home to a restaurant that's also a cooking school, fine-foods retailer and purveyor of grab-and-go foods. Lomonico's opened at 1506 Stonecreek Dr. S. in Pickerington on Oct. 21.

Pickerington is home to a restaurant that’s also a cooking school, fine-foods retailer and purveyor of grab-and-go foods.

Lomonico’s opened at 1506 Stonecreek Dr. S. in Pickerington on Oct. 21.

At first, owner Craig Lomonico had envisioned a simple counter-service restaurant, but the idea “ grew an awful lot between the time I got the idea and when we started,” Lomonico said. “It just got bigger and bigger.”

Lomonico’s is part retail business modeled after an Italian market, with a selection of tomatoes, olive oils, peppers and a charcuterie case. There is also a wine wall and the opportunity to mix and match your own six-pack of craft beers.

Lomonico’s also offers prepared meals to take home or to the office.

“We wanted to offer quality to-go food that was chef-crafted, because there is a need to have something good but fast for dual-income families who are always running home in the evenings or picking up food before an event,” he said.

The sit-down restaurant features a full bar and a menu of specialty pizzas from a wood-fired oven “where we also finish some meals, such as the pork chops, skillet corn bread, and the smoked gouda mac and cheese,” he said.

There are also Sicilian rice ball appetizers, pasta Bolognese and braised short ribs. The meatballs in the restaurant and the grab-and-go area are made using Lomonico’s grandmother’s recipe. Dinner entree prices range from $13 to $22.

His aim was to create a place that was “reasonably priced, with a great wine list” and family-friendly atmosphere, Lomonico said. Kids meals are $4, and their food, like the adult menu, is made from scratch.

The space also features a teaching kitchen that can be used for private parties. Lomonico plans to offer cooking classes there, plus special and corporate events.

Lomonico was a high-school and college-level culinary teacher for several years and is a former principal of Fairfield Career Center. Although he does have a culinary degree and experience, he hired Andrew Borenstein to serve as executive chef.

The 5,000-square-foot space seats 90 in the restaurant, 16 at the bar and 12 in the market.

The space began as a new but very empty shell.

“It had a gravel floor when we got it and not a single piece of drywall,” Lomonico said.

The good news is that it didn’t require demolition, because there wasn’t anything to demolish. That also meant he had a lot of work to do.

“We got to put everything right where we wanted it. We left it feeling a bit industrial but clean.”

The space has 17-foot-high ceilings, the HVAC ducts are exposed, and a glass garage door can be lowered to separate the test kitchen from the rest of the space.

He chose to open in Pickerington because his family has lived in the suburb since 1973. In the community, we have “name recognition, and this location is right next to Rooster’s, which draws a great deal of attention,” he said. “There is a 60-acre medical campus moving in next door, and we have a patio. It’s a great spot.”

Lomonico said the restaurant also will benefit by being one of the few independent eateries in the area. “People love to go out to eat and support local business. We are local, personally owned and not a chain. People like that.”

Although Lomonico has had an offbeat career path, he’s both nervous and excited to open his own restaurant.

“I’m Sicilian, so food was a big part of life growing up,” he said. He awoke to the smell of homemade meatballs on Sunday mornings, and “that informed where I wanted to be in my life. I have always wanted my own restaurant, and it was an itch that never went away.”

Lomonico’s is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday, but the grab-and-go and retail portions of the business are open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Brew news

Elevator Brewing Co.’s 13th Floor Tap Room is holding its grand opening on Saturday at 165 N. 4th St., from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It will feature food trucks, brewery tours, live music and tastings of rare and award-winning beers.

Elevator Brewing beers have won 12 World Beer Championship awards in the past 16 months.

Dispatch restaurant columnist Denise Trowbridge can be reached at onrestaurants@dispatch.com.