Angelo Ventrella's La Pace, the grandest of Long Island's Italian-continental restaurants, opened in 1978 and reigned in Glen Cove for 27 years.
The successor, La Pace with Chef Michael, whipped up chocolate mousse for eight more. When it closed in 2013, regulars assumed the genre departed, too.
Enter Claudio Zustovich.
Zustovich, co-owner with his son, Fabrizio, the general manager, have overhauled and brightened the spacious, high-ceiling dining room. Gone are the deep-green, zigzag wall covering and well-worn carpet, replaced by a creamy hue and polished wood.
More daunting is the revival of the familiar cuisine, which used to define haute in disco-era Nassau and Suffolk. So far, the restoration is very good.
You'll receive a gratis plate with sliced salami, nuggets of Parmesan cheese, white anchovies, olives and bruschetta. Nibble away while checking the work-in-progress menu and hearing the day's specials.
Then, try the silky sheaves of house-cured salmon carpaccio or the tender grilled octopus. The house's satisfying version of pasta e fagioli; an ample antipasto for two is headlined by straightforward clams casino and shrimp oreganata. Creamy burrata cheese with ripe tomatoes also are recommended.
But linguine alla carbonara takes a molto mild approach, short on the pecorino, pancetta and black pepper. Pappardelle in a chunky veal ragù similarly has a risk-averse quality, restrained mirepoix to underseasoned meat.
Claudio's generally fares best with seafood. Risotto of lobster stars excellent shellfish and, while not a paradigm of harmony, is flavorful. The hefty, whole orata, or gilthead sea bream, is outstanding, filleted tableside, snowy within. Branzino, or sea bass, benefits from a tasty potato crust. But you can skip the overdone seafood crepes.
The grilled Green Valley Farms Berkshire pork chop is carefully prepared. Rib-eye steak has a pleasing char. Roast duck a l'orange comes through as a generous, respectable rendition of the continental staple.
Leading the sweets: lush mascarpone cheesecake. A cantilevered construct of strawberries and cannoli cream with sheaves of puff pastry is good. Avoid the bland, strawberry spin on tiramisu.
Claudio's sends out a solid chocolate mousse cake, but no chocolate mousse. Maybe it's better that the memory of La Pace's great, bittersweet one with freshly whipped cream remains undisturbed.
So, sip an espresso and look around the place. You'll notice that above the fireplace is the colorful image of a young man eating pasta. Veteran diners will remember it used to be near the bar and entryway. I imagine Angelo Ventrella smiling.