La Grotta the Third

MTLa Grotta's slick, modern design replaces Metekhi's murals of Tbilisi.
Hidden away on a little winding lane, Metekhi was one of those mom-and-pop eateries that expats commonly complain there just aren't enough of around Moscow. It served hearty and wholesome Georgian dishes with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Unfortunately, such inexpensive eateries seem to be falling afoul of Moscow's ever increasing rents. Metekhi has now closed as well, replaced by the third installment in the La Grotta series of Italian restaurants.

The latest La Grotta has kept its renovation fairly simple. The walls have been whitewashed and the ceiling spruced up with a band of dark wood running around the perimeter. A series of paintings featuring watering cans stuffed with flowers adds a fun touch.

La Grotta in not a particularly inexpensive restaurant. Starters include parma ham with melon (450 rubles), beef carpaccio with ruccola and parmesan (440 rubles), octopus carpaccio (580 rubles) and salmon tartare (470 rubles). Salads include seafood ruccola for 790 rubles, avocado and prawns for 400 rubles and a prawn and papaya salad with a citrus sauce for 490 rubles.

Pizzas cost roughly the same as the starters and salads, starting at 330 rubles for a margherita and reaching up to 720 rubles for the more i gory, or sea and mountains, with prawns, porcini and ruccola. Pastas include spaghetti with pecorino cheese and chili (420 rubles), spaghetti carbonara (420 rubles), penne with porcini and Parma ham (480 rubles) and fettucine with crab and langoustine (680 rubles). Wine starts at 180 rubles a glass of either red or white.

Weekdays from noon to 5 p.m., there is a lunch offer -- a condensed menu offers any two dishes plus a drink for 320 rubles or any three plus a drink for 420 rubles.

11 1st Kolobovsky Per., 694-0837/18, 11 a.m.-last guest, M. Tsvetnoi Bulvar.