Pasta with walnut pesto at Circa in Mineola.

Pasta with walnut pesto at Circa in Mineola. Credit: Erica Marcus

Where are the salt police when you need them? While Albany frets about restaurants’ excessive use of salt, Circa should be cited for criminal undersalting.

This pasta special of spaghetti with walnut pesto with “a touch of cream” barely tasted like anything. The problem lay not only with the pesto; I suspect the pasta itself had been cooked in unsalted (or barely salted) water and when that happens, no amount of salt in the sauce or on the table can repair the damage. Believe me, we tried. My spaghetti with clams fared better, likely because clams are inherently salty (bless them) but, again, the pasta itself was bland. Not salting the water, by the way, isn’t some little personal bugaboo; every cook knows that salted water is a sine qua non of good pasta.

You want personal bugaboo? Here’s one: If I have one more sweet salad dressing I’ll scream! First there was the lime dressing at La Bottega, now the Champagne vinaigrette at Circa. Look, I expect that the raspberry vinaigrette and the balsamic vinaigrette are going to be sweet. Last night at Circa I avoided the pomegranate vinaigrette for the same reason. But “Champagne vinaigrette” should be made with Champagne vinegar and olive oil and maybe some mustard. Where are the sugar police when you need them?

I so want to like Circa. The place looks terrific, the menu reads terrific. I just get the feeling that there’s no one in the kitchen who really cares about the food. In addition to our saltless pasta and sugary salad, we had a Margherita pizza with a nice crust and good sauce … and what appeared to be a blanket of industrial mozzarella. Even my local pizzeria makes a Margherita pizza with fresh mozzarella.

Circa is at 348 E. Jericho Tpke., Mineola, 516-280-2234.

Newsday photo / Erica Marcus

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