The region of Apulia, or Puglia, covers the heel of the Italian boot, the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Gulf of Taranto and Ionian Sea on the other. It’s a land of intensely local cuisine, from Bari to Brindisi. And not a lot has been imported to Long Island.
Gino and Maria Giannuzzi are trying to remedy that.
They own the new Trullo d’Oro, a warm and appealing restaurant, where they’d also operated La Caravella for 15 years. In between, the address housed Capriccio, La Primavera and, most recently, Nubon Sushi & Grill.
You’ll be glad the Giannuzzis are back. They’ve restored and refined the spot just north of the Broadway Mall. Now, the dining room has a sponge-paint gilding and is decorated with glistening copper cookware, each providing a rustic touch. There’s a bar toward the front, plus two TVs just in case.
Trullo d’Oro’s name is a suggestion of Apulia, referring to the cone-capped residences, or trulli, that dot the Puglian landscape, especially around Alberobello.
Burrata di Bari leads off the menu in Hicksville, creamy and delicious, paired with tomatoes and roasted red peppers. If you’d like your cheese grilled, mozzarella d’Oro is the choice, capped with prosciutto and a light marinara sauce.
A Puglian specialty, panzerottini, may remind you more of mini-calzones, with mozzarella and tomato sauce. They’re a bit dry. Definitely moist and easily recommended: the generous portion of grilled octopus, with olives, tomatoes, celery and a splash of sherry vinegar. Fried calamari also are fine, as is the stracciatelle, the spinach-and-egg drop soup of Rome.
Salads are very good, including a snappy combo of peppery arugula, endive, cherry tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese; and the beet number with asparagus and ricotta salata.
Strascenate Alberobello is a distinctive fresh pasta, shaped like a guitar pick, and tossed with broccoli rabe, crumbled sweet Italian sausage, olive oil and garlic. Orecchiette, a popular pasta in Puglia where it’s sometimes called recchietelle, materializes in a ragu with meatballs, husky and satisfying. So are the pappardelle Bolognese, with savory meat sauce; and the cavatelli della nonna, a tribute to grandma with plum tomato sauce, ricotta, radicchio, and pancetta. Gnocchi di zucca, however, are overweight.
The Giannuzzis’ kitchen sends out an excellent strip steak, sizzling on a cast-iron skillet, with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Parmesan-crusted chicken Martini is finished with white wine, lemon, butter and some flair. “Pollo presto” translates into a spin on chicken Parmigiana. The “timballo” of eggplant equala two light, good rounds of eggplant Parmigiana.
Red snapper Livornese may be a special, and it’s tasty. The alternative usually is the mild, whole branzino, with herbs, lemon, and olive oil. Seafood doesn’t abound here.
Italian cheesecake and cannoli highlight the desserts. Puglian specialties such as castagnedi, or sweetened dough with almond paste and chocolate frosting; and honey-drizzled fritters haven’t appeared. Yet.