Cantina fries at Bar Grazie in Massapequa Park.

Cantina fries at Bar Grazie in Massapequa Park. Credit: Joann Vaglica

Ciao, baby!

The former Ciao Baby Italian restaurant has been replaced by Bar Grazie, an Italian gastrobar with Mexican flare. Cousins Lenny Oliva and Frank Cammarata remain owners, but everything else--including its famous oversized rice ball--has changed.

After being closed just shy of a year, the eatery relaunches with an entirely refurbished interior--think modern rustic industrial with lots of metal, reclaimed wood and a white and gray color scheme.

The Massapequa Park restaurant's reinvention was a long time coming, Cammarata said, although COVID-19 helped speed the process up. "It pushed us into this…family-style during COVID would be a hard thing to do," he said. The space had operated for nearly 20 years as Ciao Baby before closing last March when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo mandated dining rooms shuttered at the start of the pandemic.

The menu, now tailored toward individual dining, takes in starters such as a 14-ounce Bavarian pretzel ($14), cantina fries ($12), eggplant meatballs ($13) and drunken clams ($19); plus brick-oven pizza, from traditional Margherita ($15) to the chicken enchilada ($16). All pizzas are thin crust and square. Sandwiches include Nashville hot chicken ($16). Pasta is housemade — from Sunday sauce (wagyu meatballs, hot and sweet sausage and braised short rib, $26), to Grazie e pepe (spaghetti, black pepper, shaved truffle and pecorino, $17) and steak rigatoni ($24). Salads, wings, tacos and empanadas can also be had.

Notably, there are at least five vegan options to choose from: tempura cauliflower wings, zucchini linguini, a bolognese pasta dish, the beyond burger and vegan pizza pie. Keto and gluten free options round out the menu. There’s weekend brunch with a full menu, too.

Benjamin Diederiks, whose resume includes Osteria Leana in Oyster Bay, Swallow in Montauk and Huntington and Tavern 227 in Sea Cliff, helms the kitchen here, as well as Cammarata’s other spot, Publicans in Manhasset. Oliva and Cammarata also together own Brixx & Barley in Long Beach.

The newly added bar is serving up cocktails — some on fire, like the Pompeii ruins, a smooth concoction of strawberry, jalapeño and cucumber infused tequila, agave and lime juice with a black salt rim.

Just off the main dining room, French doors open to a 40-person al fresco dining area. On the opposite site of the restaurant, a private dining space for up to 60 people has been added -- it features its own bar, sound system and TVs.

Bar Grazie is at 5074 Sunrise Hwy. in Massapequa Park. It’s open for dinner Tuesdays to Sundays from 4 to 11 p.m.; brunch is served weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 516-799-5200. bargrazie.com

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