Father and son Pasquale and Francesco Coli, owners of Massa’ Coastal Italian Cuisine, originally hail from Puglia (the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”), where a long coastline and fishing tradition inspire the cuisine. “I used to catch fish with a spear gun in the Mediterranean Sea when I was a kid,” says Francesco.
Formerly owners of La Villetta Ristorante in Larchmont and Massa’ in Scarsdale, they opened their new eatery earlier this year in the space that housed Neméa Greek Taverna; seafood is spotlighted and a wide variety of fresh whole fish and shellfish, including branzino and dorado, are flown in from Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
Don’t expect heavy sauces and dramatically stacked layers of veggies and starches that take away from the fish (which should be center stage); instead, enjoy simply prepared fillets such as swordfish (pesce spada) with artichokes, capers, olives, and tomato; oven-roasted halibut over fennel with orange sauce; and sushi-grade bigeye tuna in a black-pepper crust.
There are pasta dishes, too, a number of which feature seafood (e.g., spaghetti with jumbo lump crabmeat, tomato, and a bit of cream), as well as several meat entrées (prime-cut Colorado lamb chops and roasted Muscovy duck with fresh orange segments among them).
If you’re lucky, you may dine on a day when there’s a jar of house-made Sambuca behind the bar. And, for dessert, order the pizza fritte accompanied by Nutella and served Italian street-fair-style: in a brown paper bag.