This weekend I had the opportunity to enjoy some authentic, Italian cuisine. My friend Gina and I visited Grotta Di Fuoco, the newest addition to the west end of Long Beach. The restaurant is in the former Café Laguna locale, but as with the name, the décor has changed. The wood-burning oven remains in the corner, giving character to the new digs. I loved the openness of the restaurant; from any point you could watch the chef slide pizzas in to the wood-burning oven.
Grotta Di Fuoco, which means “cave of fire”, resides on the corner of West Beech Street and New Hampshire Street. Andrew Allotti, the owner and head chef, is no stranger to the restaurant business. He has worked at Sole, Dodici, Café Laguna, just to name a few. He hopes to challenge the norms, and “provides an alternative to Long Island Italian dining,” one which he hopes will please the masses.
And pleased we were! We ordered the Veal Meatballs and Eggplant Fries for our appetizers. The Veal Meatballs were out of this world. Dried cranberries, toasted almonds and pecorino made up this delectable dish. The Eggplant Fries were outstanding as well. The calabrian chili and mascarpone aioli paired nicely with the fries.
For our entrees, we decided on the Ricotta Gnocchi and the Pork Cheek Ravioli. Honestly, best Gnocchi I have ever had. Ever. The Ricotta Gnocchi involved broccoli rabe pesto, ground sausage, frico, and almond dust. DELICIOUS! It was so rich in flavor, I was sad after my last bite. The Pork Cheek Ravioli was also delicious. I don’t think I have ever eaten Pork Cheek, but I was pleasantly surprised. When I go to an Italian restaurant, I usually order the same type of dish. Every time. It was refreshing to try something different. We each had a glass of wine, and opted for the waitress’ recommendation on the Ricotta Cheesecake (which Andrew explained was his mother’s recipe). Yum!
You would never know that the restaurant has only been open for two weeks. The staff was super friendly and on point; our meals were perfectly timed. We had the opportunity to enjoy our wine and the food without feeling rushed. Andrew was spotted walking around the room; checking in on tables, conversing with his patrons.
Congratulations to Andrew on his new venture. I can’t wait to go back!