Sophia Italian Bistro has opened in Amityville, a collaboration between two veterans of the Nassau County Italian restaurant scene.
In the kitchen is chef Enrique Bermeo, who earned 3 1/2 stars when he was cooking at Luigi Q in Hicksville. The dining room is the domain of Riccardo (Richie) Sanseverino, formerly of Tesoro in Westbury.
Bermeo's menu is composed mostly of modern and classic Italian-American dishes -- clams oreganata, tuna carpaccio, tre colori salad, penne vodka, gnocchi pesto, veal Francese, roasted branzino. Most starters are less than $15, most pastas less than $20, most main dishes less than $26.
Villa d'Avanza was the last tenant of this Merrick Road spot. The new owners gave the dining room and lounge a much-needed update, replacing the 1980s era decor with lots of warm wood and brick.
Back in the 1960s, the spot hosted a restaurant called Vesuvio, whose owners, the Gandiosi family, were the grandparents of Sanseverino's wife. "Sophia" was the name of his wife's late aunt, who worked behind the bar and also became a second mother to the young couple. Sophia's photograph graces the back of the menu.
Parking note: Driving by, the situation looks bleak, but in fact there is ample parking (and a rear entrance) around the back of the restaurant, behind the neighboring South Shore Auto Sales.
Sophia Italian Bistro is at 71 Merrick Rd., Amityville, 631-598-1150, sophiaitalianbistro.com