Seekers of Italian food Just Like Mama Used To Make need look no further than the newly-opened Galli on Mercer Street in SoHo. The restaurant, a collaboration between Michael Forrest and owner of Long Island "cult favorites" La Piazza and Mama Theresa's Steve Gallo, brings Italian comfort food into focus with "tried and true Gallo family recipes" with some modern updates thrown in for flair.

Appetizers like rice balls and "Mad" calamari with spicy marinara are a delightful prelude to the entree section, which reads like a menu straight out of Little Italy. The kitchen turns out solid renditions of Chicken Francese and Marsala, and the special Parm menu offers a variety of meats available prepared in traditional Parmigiana style, but the real draw here is the pasta. Choose from 16 offerings like the requisite vodka, bolognese and pesto applications to more inventive offerings like the Integrale: escarole, cannelloni beans and cherry tomato, floating in a savory garlic oil brodino with whole wheat pasta. Be sure to try the Norma, a riff on the Sicilian specialty, which tosses rigatoni with earthy, creamy eggplant and finishes with a healthy sprinkling of nutty ricotta salata.

The interior toes the line between rustic and refined, combining weathered bricks and mismatched wooden chairs with Italian marble table tops. Just like your grandmother's living room, family photographs adorn the walls, a nod to the family recipes featured on the menu. During the day, the dining room is flooded with natural light from a huge skylight at one end of the room while soft lighting from orbed sconces and candles provide a comforting and romantic atmosphere in the evening. The large marble bar offers seating for ten to enjoy house-curated cocktails like Daria's Melons, which mixes fresh watermelon, Campari and Bombay Sapphire for a fresh and aromatic flavor. To complete the drink menu, a selection of 40 wines and various spirits and beers are also available.

Galli opens daily at 9 a.m. for cafe service with coffee and pastries and serves lunch and dinner in the dinning room seven days a week.

45 Mercer Street // 212-966-9288

Galli_dinner Menu Final 7.31.12