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Dining

How Do You Say ‘Perfect’ In Italian?

Lula Trattoria: A little of this, a little of that

The moment I saw the counter-height, family-style tables, I wanted to call up a group of friends or my family and invite them to join me for dinner. With the copper ceiling giving off a warm glow, it felt like just the right place to enjoy wine and good food with a group.

The other dining areas in Lula are also inviting: there are two rooms where a double-sided fireplace adds ambiance, a marble bar with comfortable stools with backs and the private, and quiet, wine room tucked away in the back with a round table that can seat four or five people.

Lula opened November of last year receiving well-deserved accolades, especially for its small-plates concept created by owner Lula Dalipi and executed by chef Tom Gloster. In the center of each table is a pile of small white plates to use for sharing the dishes that come out of Gloster’s kitchen. Says Lula, “In Italy, it’s ‘have this, have that.’ I love to eat that way.”

Much of what comes out of the kitchen is made with products prepared by the chef and his crew, such as the duck proscuitto, bresaola and coppa spicy on the salumi list. The house-made bread was a delight. A huge “loaf” arrived steaming hot to the table; the waiter cut into it revealing the hollow center of this delicious pizza-dough creation, sprinkled with salt and herbs. When I found out they even made their own butter, I got some to slather on the bread. Eventually, I pushed the bread to the opposite side of the table to prevent me from devouring it all.

For appetizers, we chose clams oreganata and diver scallops with wild mushrooms, pancetta and chives. The breadcrumbs on the clams were very light, garlicky and buttery. The scallops were beautifully seared and juicy and the assortment of mushrooms added depth to the flavor. For pasta, airy gnocchi Bolognese was the kind I imagine my grandmother would have made if she had been Italian (she made great matzoh balls).

Another good pasta choice was pappardelle all’antra: pulled duck ragu with shitake mushrooms and onions.

We decided to try the special: roast Cornish hen with a pumpernickle foie gras stuffing. I couldn’t resist the idea of pumpernickel as part of the dish. It worked; the chef has a deft hand when combining ingredients. Lula told us that some of the most popular dishes are pear salad, penne Lula (chicken, hot cherry peppers, garlic and white wine), pizza Parma (prosciutto, arugula, fig compote, gorgonzola and truffle oil), spicy lamb sausage with white beans and Swiss chard, and grilled branzino.

Lula’s wine list features eight whites and seven reds by the glass. The whites on the by-the-bottle list are helpfully divided into three categories—light and dry; a little more fruit; and body and richer and fuller. The reds are organized by light and fruity; medium bodied; and big red.

Dessert offerings included tiramisu, New York cheesecake, panna cotta and chocolate torte.

Lula Trattoria is located at 348 East Jericho Tpke. in Mineola. The phone number is 516-747-5100 and the website, www.lulatrattoria.com