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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Up From Underground

MTLa Grotta No. 2 has a warm, cozy atmosphere and excellent food.
A tiny Italian restaurant with a big following, La Grotta has finally found a larger venue to accommodate its many fans.

The recently opened second La Grotta is a fine restaurant indeed. It's actually an improvement on the original just off Pushkin Square, which is not a bad eatery in itself.

The new La Grotta is much more spacious than the low-ceilinged first, and being on the ground floor rather than in a basement, it even has a modest view of the lane outside. Its tasteful color scheme -- a blend of orange, rose and burgundy -- is especially warm at night, when it is softly lit by candlelight. Comfortable divans only improve the cozy atmosphere, as does a mellow mix of music.

The food here is not so simple as to fall into the spag-bol comfort-food category, but nor does it come in portions so small and on plates so large that you need a magnifying glass to find it.

A pinzimonio salad with carrot, sweet pepper, radish, celery and an olive oil dressing starts off the salad list at 240 rubles, while at the top end of the salad scale is lobster with peeled tomato, lemon and an olive oil dressing for 1,380 rubles. The soup selection ranges from minestrone for 200 rubles up to fish and seafood soup for 560 rubles.

The pasta selection is impressive, ranging from relatively simple but tasty spaghetti with pecorino cheese and black pepper (380 rubles), to more exotic ravioli with sturgeon and sea bass in a tomato and shrimp sauce (370 rubles). The range of pizzas is not quite as extensive; a simple margarita costs 280 rubles, while a close relative of the "surf and turf," the mare e monti or sea and mountain pizza comes with prawns, porcini and ruccola and costs 680 rubles.

The large wine selection starts at 220 rubles a glass or 1,100 a bottle for red, with white costing a little more.

The bill can quickly add up, but there's a 20 percent discount on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m.

15 Pozharsky Per., 202-0956, 11 a.m.-midnight, M. Kropotkinskaya.