The floods of superstorm Sandy closed Caffe Laguna in Long Beach but did not destroy the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. That oven has inspired Caffe Laguna’s successor: Grotta di Fuoco, “cave of fire,” which opened two weeks ago.
The new restaurant’s chef-owner is Andrew Allotti, who worked briefly at Caffe Laguna and, before that, for two years at Sole in Oceanside. Raised in Baldwin, Allotti started restaurant work washing dishes at Dodici in Rockville Centre when he was 12. After more than a decade in the dining rooms of Italian restaurants around Nassau County, he attended the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, and also was part of the team that opened A Voce in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.
At Grotta di Fuoco, he’s moved away from the standard Italian-American menu of "fried calamari and Parmesans." His menu harkens back to his grandmother’s rustic Sicilian cooking and also looks to New American influences. Starters ($8 to $12) include bone marrow with a flame-roasted beef bone, gremolata and toast; tuna crudo with frisee, radish and fennel. Among pastas ($17 to $20): pork-cheek ravioli with Taleggio, soffritto and grape tomatoes; ricotta gnocchi with broccoli-rabe pesto, ground sausage, frico (cheese wafer) and almond dust. Wood-fired pizzas ($10 to $13) include the Tre Porcellini (three little pigs) featuring guanciale, prosciutto and sausage — and ricotta and tomatoes. Entrees ($22 to $34) range from baccala (salt-cured cod) with fregola (Sardinian couscous), pan-seared swordfish with eggplant caponata and rosemary-rubbed 16-ounce T-bone with fingerling potatoes and smoked broccoli rabe.
Grotta di Fuoco is open for dinner seven nights a week at 960 W. Beech St., Long Beach, 516-544-2400, grottalbny.com.