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CASA CALIMARI EXPANDS MENU

The Brooklyn Paper
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"I’m going to make you a pizza you can’t refuse," says a poster hanging on the back wall of Casa Calamari, an Italian seafood restaurant in Bay Ridge, harking back to the classic "Godfather" line. And how could you resist such an offer from a young Marlon Brando pictured with a mean slice of pizza? It’s just one of several new additions to the restaurant’s menu.

Casa Calamari’s wide-ranging selection rivals that of fine Italian restaurants - except for the prices.

"Ridiculous prices," said co-owner Leo Lykourezos. "Very, very cheap."

Casa Calamari’s informal decor, on the other hand, is a cross between a pizzeria, a family diner and a sports bar.

"We’re not a sports bar," said waiter Nick Zivanovic. "But people who know about us, they come here and watch the game."

The glass-and-tile dining room, featuring an open kitchen, is lit by the red-and-green neon sign bearing the restaurant’s name and logo - a friendly-looking octopus.

The new pizza counter to the left of the entrance was added to the restaurant just seven months ago, when Lykourezos became the partner of Tom Cucco (pictured at left). In addition to seafood classics like clams and oysters on the half shell, and shrimp and lobster cocktail, the restaurant now offers pasta and a wide range of traditional and specialty pizzas. Lykourezos recommends the "focaccia di nonna (grandma’s pizza)," made with homemade mozzarella, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, basil and a hint of fresh garlic and Tuscan olive oil.

For pizza with a little twist, try one of the calzones, which are made to order.

"John makes the best calzone in all of Bay Ridge," said Jeff Hamratty, a loyal customer about the new addition to the menu. "I come here four to five times a week." Hamratty special-orders his calzone with sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms and extra mozarella cheese.

Pasta aficionados, Lykourezos suggests, should try the penne, either with vodka cream sauce, prosciutto, peas and mushrooms or with chicken, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

Since seafood is Casa Calamari’s trademark, remember to begin your Italian dining experience with the golden-fried calamari appetizer.

Casa Calamari Pizza and Pasta [8602 Third Ave. at 86th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 921-1900] accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. The restaurant, open daily, offers lunch specials Monday through Thursday, from 11 am to 3:30 pm. Pizza window is open daily until 2 am.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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