“I was looking for a good, young chef,” the 53-year-old restaurateur said. “Somebody up and coming, who has an edge and a personality.”
Two months ago, Aaron Avers of Smyrna answered Mangino’s call. A native of Columbus, Ohio, the 33-year-old already had 18 years’ worth of kitchen experiences.
Avers described himself as a combination of “pretty boy and freak.” While elder diners may give him some strange looks, he said they tend to warm up to him after chatting with him — and especially after tasting his dishes.
“They love me in 30 seconds” he said. “They say ‘oh, come to my house, I want you to cook for me, I want you to meet my daughter.’”
Mangino referred to the tatted-up Avers as his alter ego. “I’m going to make the traditional dish,” he said, “and he’s going to kick it up.”
Having already tasted local success with his Johns Creek establishment Mona Lisa, OTP represents a shift from Mangino’s milieu.
For 30 years, the Bronx-born businessman has specialized in Italian food. With OTP — which stands for Outside the Perimeter — he wants to try a different take on standard American cuisine.
The OTP menu offers tried-and-true favorites, Mangino said, but the line-up also has quite a few modern touches.
“We’re going to be bringing inside-the-perimeter dishes, culinary experiences and flavors,” he said, “and putting them into the familiar foods.”
Gourmet hamburgers, crafted ales and spirits and fusion dishes such as lobster lasagna rolls will be offered.
Hopping all around the East Coast over the last five years, Avers said he has been pulling together a litany of regional styles to add to his own culinary repertoire.
“We’ve got the out West steak, lobster rolls from up North, fried mac and cheese and lobster mac and cheese from down South,” he said.
The selections at OTP, Mangino said, reflect their corporate motto Simple, Fresh and Good.
“That’s how we try to keep our food, unpretentious” he said.
A soft opening is scheduled for Aug. 5, with OTP’s grand opening tentatively set for Aug. 12. Mangino expects to employ 25 to 30 workers.
Mangino said Roswell was selected for OTP’s location because he already had a sizable, built-in customer base with nearby Mona Lisa. Both local government and residents, he said, are highly supportive of independent businesses.
“It’s a cool place to live,” he said. “I’ve been living here for a while now, and I have no intentions of leaving.”