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LI NATIVE TAPPED AS CHEF

Michael Mandato, a veteran of luxury hotels in the United States and Canada, has joined the Garden City Hotel as executive chef. He succeeds Steven De Bruyn, who left in September.

Mandato grew up in Oceanside and his first food-service job was in the kitchen of South Nassau Communities Hospital. A 1985 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in upstate Hyde Park, he worked at French restaurants in New York (among them, La Côte Basque) before moving into the world of hotels. He served as executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta and, most recently, at the Taj Boston.

The Garden City Hotel was sold during the summer to Fortuna Realty Group of Manhattan and, according to Mandato, culinary changes are afoot. He'll be overhauling the menu at REIN, the hotel's bistro-style restaurant, and said, "There has been talk" about reopening Polo, REIN's fancier sibling, which was closed in 2009.

REIN is at 45 Seventh St., Garden City, 516-877-9385. -- ERICA MARCUS


A LITTLE ITALIAN IN MINEOLA

Circa Enoteca in Mineola, the Italian restaurant that closed in May, has been reborn as Lula Trattoria, which aims to split the difference between Italian and small plates.

The menu of chef Tom Gloster (formerly of Rothmann's Steakhouse in East Norwich and Zim Zari in Massapequa Park) is divided into antipasti, crudo (raw fish), cheese, salumi, salads, pizzas, pastas, fish, meat and side dishes. A good start was the grilled octopus ($8), garnished simply with whole parsley leaves, shaved fennel and fried capers. It was a normal appetizer size. A beet salad with mâche, pancetta, Asiago and a Marsala dressing was generous at $7. A veal cutlet Milanese (topped with arugula salad) was quite as large as entrees I've eaten in fancy restaurants, and it cost $11. Ditto the bowl of bucatini Amatriciana ($9) -- quite a normal portion.

Lula Trattoria is at 348 E. Jericho Tpke., Mineola, 516-747-5100. -- ERICA MARCUS


OCEANSIDE GASTRO PUB OPEN

A month ago, Lawson Pub in Oceanside was under 5 feet of water, half of its furniture floating down the street.

The restaurant is now up and running again, said chef-owner Joseph Bonacore, who had the foresight to stow his major electrical and mechanical equipment up on the roof before superstorm Sandy hit.

The gastro pub received a three-star rating last November for Bonacore's vibrant cooking, at once classic and original. Past favorites include "little piggies," or wieners wrapped in pastry ($7.95), a Black Angus burger topped with bacon, Cheddar and lobster salad ($14.95) and a butternut squash salad with toasted pumpkin seeds ($10.95).

Lawson Pub is at 3112 Lawson Blvd., Oceanside, 516-307-8753. -- JOAN REMINICK

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