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We walked into Spezia on a recent Tuesday night and were asked: “What name is your reservation. Despite not having the forethought to make a reservation, we were promptly seated. The restaurant soon filled to capacity so it is would be a good idea to make a reservation for this popular dining spot.

THE ATMOSPHERE: The large, open dining area had an Italian motif along one wall, and the opposite wall was a wall off windows, which make the dining room feel open. There additionally, is a large nicely appointed outdoor seating area, which in nice weather would allow for larger capacity, and great dining. There was a small private dining space and the bar area had seating for cocktails and appetizers only.

Happy hour runs from 4 to 6 PM, and features ½ price drinks and appetizers. (So get there before 6 PM!). We chose from the extensive wine and beer menus. Patty sipped on her Limoncello Fizz. We started with an order of Artichokes and a wonderful flatbread, which was delicious. Sarah commented that she could easily have made this and a side salad her entire meal. Delicious. Delicious. Delicious.

THE SERVICE: The efficient server was everything you look for in a waiter. Attentive but not over-bearing, prompt, friendly and good with details. This quality dining experience includes linen table cloth and napkins, heavy china and fine glassware. Dinner rolls were served prior to the meals, which were warm and quite tasty.

THE FOOD: Patty enjoyed her Tuscan Wood Grilled Tuna Loin, served medium rare with penne pasta, white beans, fresh herbs, baby spinach and tomato ($19). She loved the nicely blended textures and flavors were a savory combination, which satisfied even the heartiest of appetite. The large portion allowed enough for a take-home box to enjoy the next day. Great choice!

Sarah tried the Gnocchi Alla Pollo ($18) which had seared chicken breast, cremini mushrooms and fresh baby spinach with a Gorgonzola cream sauce. The rich, decadent cream sauce and the complex flavors of the mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese were delicious! The chicken was tender and the gnocchi yummy. Another happy diner.

Rick tried the Walleye La Spezia ($22) with Roma tomato, fresh herbs, gnocchi and fresh asparagus. The walleye was grilled and tasty, but rather sparse on his plate. There was a lot of tomato sauce and gnocchi which was tasty. The asparagus was slightly tough as it tends to be this time of year. When you are used to home grown asparagus, store bought just doesn’t compare! Rick probably would not repeat this choice.

Jim tried the Spezia Free Range Chicken ($19) which was a wood grilled (large) chicken breast served on mashed potatoes, cremini mushrooms, peas, prosciutto and Alfredo sauce served with roasted vegetables. The chicken was very tender and flavorful and well-cooked by the chefs. The mashed potatoes were well seasoned and generous. The Alfredo sauce was great. The vegetable medley was cook perfectly, past the ala dente stage, not crisp and not limp. This dish is deserving of a try.

WE WISHED: Three out of four of us were completely satisfied with our choices and experience. Rick would choose a different entrée, but otherwise found the experience great.

SUMMARY: Cant beat the food and the service. It was great ! Very well done!!!

The biggest obstacle might be parking behind the restaurant as there is limited parking behind busy 72nd street. Definitely worth making a reservation, getting there early enough to enjoy happy hour prices and closer parking!

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