Devoted diners who were worried when Sisina closed will be comforted to know that its successor keeps the memories alive. Actually, it duplicates many of them. Sisina/Groppelo's is a good neighborhood restaurant for uncomplicated Italian cooking.
The menu has been tweaked but not overhauled. One of the dessert lists is a holdover from Sisina. And the look of the place stays simple. The biggest burst of color is from the TV; the most artful touch, the clock. There's also a moody, oversize image of a curving, cobblestone street that transports you to the country of your choice or your imagination. The attentive staff is much sunnier.
Sisina specialized in pizza and pasta. That's still a good route for you. The pizzas include a tasty, slightly sweet pie dubbed Venezia, for no apparent reason other than onions are among the toppings of prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce; and an appetizing, four-cheese production with Parmesan, Gorgonzola, mozzarella and ricotta.
The house's spaghetti alla primavera delivers a light, inviting hint of spring, with flavorful vegetables and al dente pasta. Shellfish and calamari highlight the linguine del Golfo with marinara sauce. The husky, wintry tubbetoni Solaro is mezze rigatoni, baked with bacon, mozzarella and roasted peppers in tomato sauce. Lasagna at Groppelo's comes across like a layering of crepes, no overdoing the cheese, and restrained with the beef, too. But chicken cannelloni is on the dry side.
Satisfying starters: hearty minestrone; pan-seared, crisply coated baked crabcakes; baked clams oreganata with a trace of lemon; and salads such as the pear and Gorgonzola number with mixed greens, the tricolor, and faraglione, which may not evoke the great rock spurs off Capri, but does take in mango, apples, pecans and goat cheese. The combination of polenta and asparagus could use more Gorgonzola, or at least one with more bite, to wake it up.
Sauteed, whole branzino also is a pretty timid dish, finished with lemon and white wine. You're better off with the red snapper Livornese with capers and black olives spurring the tomato sauce. Grilled shrimp surround a well-seasoned hillock of broccoli raab. The little mound of pico de gallo, or fresh salsa, alongside could be sharper.
Chicken scarpariello, on the bone, is defined by more lemon and white wine, plus garlic and rosemary. It's tender. Chicken Parmigiana has no surprises, which is a good thing. A special of osso buco shows up almost falling off the bone.
Tiramisu is the top sweet, followed by cheesecake. Groppelo's has added a listing of the forgettable Bindi imported desserts. Stick with the holdovers from Sisina.