George Echeverria proves his versatility at Andiamo. It's as if he's running two kitchens.
The star chef, who earned high ratings for Amicale in Huntington Station and at the departed Soigné in Woodmere, makes this newcomer worth visiting, whether you're here for Italian-American or French-continental.
All this takes place at the corner site in Mineola that used to be the more single-minded PastaVino and earlier Bistro Saint Germain. Archaeologists and culinary historians also will remember that the much-missed Villa Altadonna lived here.
The dining room has been given a warm-hue overhaul. Some of the old bistro touches remain, down to the faux-cane-back chairs, dark wood, soft lighting. Background sound: Frank, Tony and company.
Consider it fanfare for Echeverria's fanciful Italian "sushi," which includes eggplant, prosciutto, pimiento, mozzarella, tomato nage and, yes, wasabi pesto. Looks the part, sliced and turned vertical -- a mangia maki. Tastes good, too.
Two worlds also come together with the duck confit risotto, a fine union that exited the original menu in favor of a duck confit quesadilla, which, while less ambitious, works, as well. Goat-cheese-and-mushroom sacchetti, or phyllo packets, are appealing, completed with cranberries, tart cherry and Port wine reduction.
And Echeverria's opener of "Grandma's meatballs or sausage" marks a different but very flavorful turn, whichever you select. But a hot antipasto of brittle fried calamari, underdone eggplant rollatine and routine shrimp oreganata totals three strikes.
Enjoy the juicy hanger steak alla pizzaiola. This flavorful cut, a bistro mainstay, rarely receives the tomato-garlic treatment. Also recommended: pork Milanese, which brings some heat to the recipe with hot cherry peppers.
The satisfying chicken scarpariello, on the bone, benefits from the company of smoked sausage, plus garlic, onions, roasted potatoes and rosemary. It's better than the overdone chicken alla Parmigiana, a dish that, along with spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and eggplant rollatine, anchors the "classic corner" here.
Italianate choices improve with a rich potato gnocchi in cheese-laden pesto, gilded a bit more with chunks of lemon-pepper chicken; and spaghetti with tomatoes, garlic and basil.
Echeverria's French connection is made via the sauteed frogs' legs, delicate and generous, atop a hillock of glistening, garlic-flecked spinach. Order the goat-cheese-and-potato soufflé on the side.
Finales feature cannoli. But sample the diverting rice pudding that has had an affair with cappuccino; and a not-so-wobbly flan that easily could be called a crème caramel.
There he goes again.