Vinoco Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant opened in April in the Mineola storefront that used to house Mi Ranchito. On a recent evening, the place virtually pulsated. Clearly, the concept of small plates and wines (by the bottle or glass) is going over big time in Mineola.
Co-owner Carlos Roman and Alex Meza used to be waiters in Manhattan — Roman at Bolo and Meza at Bouley. The two teamed up with chef de cuisine Alberto Vega (formerly of Bistro du Vent, also in the city) to come up with an imaginative assortment of global small plates, augmented by a few entrees. Sharing is encouraged.
I can vouch for a delectable artichoke salad with mushrooms and avocado in a lemon-olive oil dressing ($11). Steamed Asian buns held pork belly, hoisin sauce, cilantro and pickled daikon. Just lovely. Another treat: a flatbread topped with chorizo and mozzarella. And meatballs in tomato sauce. Three small plates go for $25.
Less of a value was an entree of seafood paella ($18.75), a relatively small bowl of mixed shellfish over saffron rice. Braised short ribs with a wild mushroom ragu over fresh pappardelle ($17.50), though, was irresistible.
To finish: opulent and creamy flan.
Vinoco Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant is at 147 Mineola Blvd., Mineola, 516-307-8056.
Above: Asian buns with pork belly at Vinoco