When Dan Lauria cooked up his mob comedy "Dinner With the Boys" in 2008, he had some very special friends in mind to play the "Boys."

"I wrote it for Charlie Durning, Dom DeLuise, Jack Klugman and Peter Falk, and I even got to do a reading of it with them," says the Lindenhurst-raised actor. But "Dinner" plans changed after DeLuise's death in 2009, and the subsequent passings of Falk, in 2011, and Durning and Klugman, who died hours apart on Dec. 24, 2012.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Now audiences can see Lauria's play, which begins previews Tuesday and opens May 4 at Off-Broadway's Acorn Theater. Lauria, best known as the crusty dad on TV's "The Wonder Years," and Richard Zavaglia play wiseguys making dinner for members of "the family." Let's just say, the pasta isn't the only thing in hot water. Ray Abruzzo also stars in the show, which was first presented last fall at New Jersey Repertory Company, where it was well-received.

For Lauria, 68, "Dinner" is first and foremost a tribute to his friends. "They'd be very happy for me," he says. "And they were all wonderful actors who should not be forgotten."