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Lula in Mineola: First (small) bites

Veal Milanese topped with arugula, Parmesan and capers

Veal Milanese topped with arugula, Parmesan and capers is one of the "secondi" on the menu at the new restaurant Lula Trattoria in Mineola. (Nov. 19, 2012) Credit: Newsday Erica Marcus

Circa Enoteca, the Italian restaurant that closed in May, has been reborn as Lula Trattoria, which aims to split the difference between Italian and small plates. “Tasting is fun,” declares the menu, which has been “crafted to sample and share a variety of dishes.”

I confess that approach is usually lost on me: I’m virtually immune to variety, happily admit that in my book no panoply of plates can compete with a huge bowl of spaghetti carbonara. But Lula won me over nonetheless. Chef Tom Gloster (formerly of Rothmann’s Steakhouse in East Norwich and Zim Zari in Massapequa Park) joked that he has adopted the persona Tomasino Glosterini, and in that guise he has created a very appealing selection of Italian dishes that, frankly, aren’t even that small.

You could enjoy Lula without even ordering: A fresh, hot flatbread glistening with herbed olive oil arrives soon after you sit down. I’m afraid I left some oil stains on the excellent wine list, composed by Sean Gantner, the wine director at Rothmann’s.

We loved our starter of grilled octopus ($8) garnished simply with whole parsley leaves, shaved fennel and fried capers. It was a normal appetizer size. A beet salad with mache, pancetta, Asiago and a Marsala dressing was generous at $7. A veal cutlet Milanese (topped with arugula salad) was quite as large as entrees I’ve eaten in fancy Manhattan restaurants, and it cost $11! Ditto the bowl of bucatini Amatriciana ($9) — quite a normal portion, and tasty (if not quite porky enough for me).

Our meal represented only a fraction of the menu, which is dvided into antipasti, crudo (raw fish), cheese, salumi, salads, pizzas, pastas, fish, meat and side dishes (plus five $7.50 items for kids under 10).

The restaurant is named for Lula Dalipi, the managing partner, who owns it with Adam Haber (a Roslyn-based businessman and a partner in Aldea, the Nuvo Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan) with the continued involvement of the original Circa team, Joe DeLorenzo (who owns Abeetza in Greenvale) and Jerry Sbarro (owner of Rothmann's and Matteo’s in Huntington, Roslyn Heights and Bellmore).

Lula Trattoria is at 348 E. Jericho Tpke., Mineola, 516-747-5100.

Veal Milanese at Lula

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