TOUCH OF VENICE

Byline: Melanie Kletter

Alongside the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Station sits a little taste of Italy.
Osteria Laguna, an Italian restaurant on East 42nd Street, retains a cozy, country feel despite its high-ceilinged, expansive interior. Its squash-colored walls are adorned with Venetian tapestries, hand-painted ceramic serving dishes and old photographs depicting Venetian life.
Osteria’s glass front doors are flung open to create an airy atmosphere. Wooden country tables are set with dried flowers, and an expansive mahogany bar is an after-work meeting place for midtown professionals and a respite for weary tourists.
Although it has already been in business a few years, a new chef has refocused the menu to include more traditional dishes from Italy’s northern Veneto region, such as black ravioli and shrimp served with polenta. Originally from a wine-producing area of Italy called Nimis, chef Claudio Meneghini uses his countryside background as inspiration for the menu.
“I work to combine the rustic and the elegant,” he said. “I try to keep things plain but tasty. Also, I like the specials to reflect the best of what the season has to offer.”
Among the chef’s specialties are mixed seafood black ravioli with asparagus, fresh tomato and lobster sauce ($18), homemade noodles in a Venetian-style sausage flavored with cinnamon ($16) and sauteed calf’s liver with onions and white wine sauce ($19.50).
Other items include a risotto with lobster meat and lobster sauce ($19.50), monkfish panseared with cherry tomatoes, capers, white wine and garlic ($21) and roast rack of lamb with sauteed eggplant and basil ($25).
Lighter fare includes the pizza napolitana ($14) and marinated baby octopus ($10.50).