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Cassariano review: A taste of Rome in Mineola

At Cassariano in Mineola, spaghetti alla carbonara is

At Cassariano in Mineola, spaghetti alla carbonara is served with a crostata brushed with basil. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Cassariano debuted in Venice, Florida. Now, about eight years and 1,226 miles later, it has opened a branch in Mineola. The style has traveled well.

The casual, relaxed "Italian eatery" moves into the site occupied recently by True American Kitchen and, before that, Lula Trattoria. The streamlined look has been lightened a bit; the centerpiece fireplace remains; and you still will be able to follow sports via TVs at the bar.

Cassariano's name combines those of founders Luca Cassani and Antonio Pariano. Upbeat Cassariano north is operated by manager William Conte and chef Giancarlo DiMaggio, among other partners. They're both veterans of the family-style La Parma, Huntington branch. The kitchen here is more ambitious; the results, often very good.

Burrata makes its by-now obligatory entrance, paired with prosciutto di Parma, for a reliable opener. Arugula and Caesar salads, the former with shavings of Parmesan cheese and mushrooms, the latter with polenta croutons, are appealing, too. Likewise, the panzanella granchio, generous with crab meat, red onion, avocado, and marinated bread.

Polenta Valdostana, under a mantle of melted Fontina cheese, enriches the starters and provides a defense against cooler weather. But carpaccio of swordfish, while prettily presented, with a cloud of citrusy foam on top, arrives refrigerator cold.

Cassariano doesn't offer half-orders of pasta. You'll have to go all-in for cavatelli alla Bolognese, full-flavored and al dente, in a veal-and-beef sauce; and for the artfully arranged spaghetti alla carbonara, a localized taste of Rome, with plenty of pancetta, grated cheese, and a rush of black pepper.

They do use a lot of cheese here, from Fontina and Gorgonzola to Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. But pesto-packed ravioli turns more than heavyweight with a husky Gorgonzola sauce. Slices of pear accent it. A special of orecchiette is simply over-cheesed, and the dish turns gummy. You're better off with the more restrained whole-wheat linguine and mixed vegetables and a light tomato sauce.

Gorgonzola-cheese sauce spurs a five-layer, mini-tower of tender chicken and polenta, with a grape tomato as its crown. A sun-dried tomato crust boosts an ample cut of seared halibut. Rosy, pan-seared ahi tuna with lemon sauce has asparagus for company. The competition comes from grilled swordfish, with caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms and roasted potatoes.

Wobbly panna cotta, respectable creme brulee, and a wake-up tiramisu are preferable to the house's industrial-strength torta al limone. Maybe they'll slip in a slice of Key lime pie soon.

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