The chicken lettuce wraps at DoraNonnie Tapas and Wine Bar...

The chicken lettuce wraps at DoraNonnie Tapas and Wine Bar in Glen Head. (Dec. 2, 2011) Credit: Yana Paskova

"Market cuisine" suits DoraNonnie.

This new eatery comes to life as a resident of Bernard's Market, the upscale food shop-caterer that already has hosted a sushi bar and a cafe. DoraNonnie Tapas & Wine Bar @ Bernard's is the most ambitious effort.

That's because of Danny Gagnon, a former contestant on "Top Chef," season five, who's sending out creative, East-West dishes at the stylized little restaurant.

The name also is a hybrid, reflecting Gagnon's grandmothers, who inspired the cook.

You could call the new place cozy. But tight is more like it. Tables are small, and the parade of courses you're likely to order might require annexing a neighbor's space. The comfort level in the sleek dining area isn't very high.

Yet, you still may enjoy the look, from the streamlined appointments to the quotation-filled border that rings upper reaches of the room. Not every restaurant affords you comments from sources as varied as Marilyn Monroe and Garrison Keillor.

Gagnon's fare ranges almost as widely. Although the full name of the restaurant suggests there will be tapas, the small plate variety is much closer to Glen Cove Avenue than to Las Ramblas. Don't expect patatas bravas and Serrano ham.

Gagnon does come up with savory "Sicilian Asian" braised short-rib sliders, capped with caponata and served on brioche. He also brings you well-seasoned pork-and-beef meatball lollipops drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a creamy mascarpone-teriyaki risotto with shaved provolone.

The Long Island duck tacos are flavorful, finished with avocado mousse and pickled radish. And the ginger-poached chicken lettuce cups survive their burnt-soy emulsion to become a long-distance version of chicken Soong.

More conventional: the fried "mozzarella pillow" and sweet-soy calamari, given some spark from fire-roasted red peppers and shaved scallions. "Creamy" clam cakes find their complement with Thai basil-lemon jam.

All of which should brace you for the curious but tasty hoisin-meatball pizza, completed with cherry peppers and fresh mozzarella.

Before you petition the International Court of Justice, know that Gagnon prepares a very good grilled pork loin with a peace-through-understanding version of macaroni and cheese and ginger-sauteed broccoli rabe.

A tender, grilled, 6-ounce sirloin outwits its shallot-soy-red wine glaze. Pan-seared swordfish doesn't mind the company of cranberry-teriyaki risotto and chardonnay beurre blanc.

Desserts are few. Recently: respectable gelati, satisfactory chocolate bombe, dry lemon-pistachio cake. Maybe there's more an aisle or two away.

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