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Cuoppo NYC opens in Merrick serving bite-size fried Italian food in paper cones

A Cuoppo Misto of fried zucchini, risotto balls

A Cuoppo Misto of fried zucchini, risotto balls and potato croquettes at Cuoppo NYC, which opened in Merrick on May 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / Corin Hirsch

Cars may outnumber pedestrians on Merrick Road, but both can now stop for one of Naples’ most popular street foods.

Louis Fontana and his wife, Lauren, opened Cuoppo NYC this week at one end of a Merrick strip mall, selling paper cones filled with bite-size, feather-light fried food.

“I learned to cook from my family,” said chef Louis Fontana, whose clan has long owned and operated Caffe Napoli in New York City’s Little Italy, as well as sold street food at the Feast of San Gennaro.

That food included cuoppo Napoletano, a ubiquitous Naples street snack of paper cones of fried morsels nibbled before dinner to whet the appetite.

A few months ago, the Fontanas decided to bring cuoppo to their new hometown of Merrick, renovating the space where Muscle Maker Grill and Robek’s juice bar used to be into an airy takeout spot. A garage door opens up to the sidewalk and parking lot, and flowers boxes, outdoor tables and window counters lend a street cafe feel.

Louis Fontana mans the fryer to produce five iterations of cuoppo, including a Cuoppo Misto filled with arancini, potato croquettes and ribbons of zucchini ($7); a Cuoppo Maré Terra of fried calamari, shrimp and zucchini; and Cuoppo Dolce, a zeppole drizzled with Nutella ($7).

The kitchen also serves up pastas ($9-$13), Italian-style heros ($9-$10) and meals such as chicken piccata ($16) and eggplant parm ($15). A signature salad pairs burrata with arugula, cherry tomatoes and red onions ($10).

Come summer, there will be a custom-made gelato cart parked out front.

Cuoppo NYC is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and has online ordering.

Cuoppo NYC, 2261 Merrick Rd., Merrick; 516-377-0700,

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