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Italian restaurant La Spezia opens in Sea Cliff

Fried calamari is one of the starters at

Fried calamari is one of the starters at La Spezia in Sea Cliff. Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus

La Spezia Ristorante Italiano has taken up residence in Sea Cliff, taking over the spot that was, briefly, Taormina and, before that, Allison’s and Amalfi. The roomy, attractive dining room has been brightened since Taormina departed.

Owner Dario Gaite said that “La Spezia” refers to the town on the Ligurian coast in Northwestern Italy from which his grandfather emigrated. But the cuisine here is more Southern than Northern, focusing on Italian-American classics in large, family-style platters and bowls. Half portions can easily be shared by four people. Full portions almost guarantee lunch the next day.

Among the starters: zuppa di mussels ($11 half, $20 full), fried calamari ($14, $23), antipasto salad ($16, $20). Half portions of pasta are $18 to $26; full portions, $22 to $34. Among the more interesting selections is paccheri del giorno (giant, Neapolitan rigatoni in a mushroom-prosciutto cream sauce) as well as two house-made fresh pastas every day. Chicken and veal mains hover around $20 for half portions, $25 for full; seafood entrees are a few dollars more. Grilled steaks and chops are priced around $45.

La Spezia is at 400 Glen Cove Ave., Sea Cliff; 516-801-4155,

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