Success Stories: Gola Osteria

Owners: Sam and Kaml Drake Epps
Location:115 S. Quarry St. Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 273-0333

Husband and wife team Sam and Kami Drake Epps opened Gola Osteria, an Italian restaurant in Ithaca, New York, in the winter of 2014. Sam got his start in kitchens, before even graduating high school, at the esteemed Italian American restaurant, The Coddington. He attended the International Culinary Center while working nights at Fiamma Osteria under Chef Michael White. After culinary school in New York, Sam studied at the Toscana Saporita Cooking School in Italy where he met celebrity chef, Mario Batali. Once back in New York, Sam went to work at Batali’s world renowned Babbo Ristorante under executive chef Frank Langello for the next two years. Sam worked under chef Andy Nusser to open Tarry Lodge and continued to work there for six years before moving to Ithaca with his wife to open Gola Osteria. Sam and Kami met while they were both at The Coddington. Kami also worked in beverage and Front of the House management for a highly successful restaurant group in Greenwich, Connecticut, for nine years.

Gola Osteria serves Tuscan inspired Italian American cuisine, which the owners describe as “adventurous.” Traditional dishes like lasagna, pork meatballs, and grilled octopus are, of course, customer favorites but the more dynamic dishes like sweetbreads, arancini siciliani, and black spaghetti topped with littleneck clams are the real stars of the menu. Sam and Kami describe their restaurant as “an upbeat, non-traditional Italian tavern that utilizes local ingredients.” Maines enables them to source ingredients that they could not find elsewhere. The restaurant is divided into three separate areas, a bar lounge, a dining room, and a small VIP section that can also be reserved for large groups. Outdoor patio dining is open during the warmer months. They will be updating the current bar area soon into a speakeasy-style lounge where seasonal cocktails and small plates will be served.