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Bringing a Taste of Tapas to Mineola

Vinoco Wine Bar & Tapas holds grand opening.

Mineola residents have a new restaurant to choose from with a pair of owners who are bringing their experience with big city restaurants to the village.

Inspired by traditional tapas – a variety of appetizers and finger foods – held their grand opening last Monday.

Originally from Peru, owners Alex Meza and Carlos Roman believe that there is infinite potential for flair and flavor in a close-knit community like Mineola.

Nearly two decades ago Meza and Roman met when they were both looking for jobs in the United States. Ironically, they said New York was a place where both of their family’s had already settled down. They have trained under some of New York City’s top chefs and restaurants.

Meza originally worked at David Bouley, and Roman at Bobby Flay before ending up in the same kitchen at DB Bistro Moderne in New York City. Since then, the two have kept in touch and share the same passion for food, hoping their new menu will fuse flavors from different countries along their journey to create a unique dining experience at Vinoco.

The duo hopes to serve to customers what is lacking in Mineola. The extensive menu features diverse dishes that are not served in most restaurants: with nearly a dozen tapas to choose from, you can order á la carte, or any three for $25 and there are also appetizers and entrees to order.

The unique concept of tapas dabbles with meshing tastes and traditions from various countries to serve a dish. While the spoon may be what is seen in a Japanese restaurant and the bamboo normally served with wontons at a Chinese restaurant, with tortillas inside- you have yourself a mix of flavor.

Roman and Meza said they wanted to have a menu that will be changed seasonally “to always keep it new and different for the customers.”

Head Chef Alberto Vega prepares foods with Spanish, Italian, Greek, Pan Asian and Latin American cuisines in the open kitchen where customers can sit at the Chef’s bar or just watch from their tables. Prior to Vinoco, Vega worked at Bistro Du Vin and Mario Batali in New York City.

The restaurant is also planning to feature dishes with a weekly “exotic” ingredient – such as trotters or pig’s feet, bulls heart and tongue – for customers to try. Patrons dining at the Chef's Counter can take part in the interactive open kitchen experience by sampling food and a Ceviche and Sashimi Bar is planned for the summer.

Vinoco is still in the process of obtaining a liquor license, which Roman expects to have within the next few weeks. After that customers will be invited to weekly Wine and Pairing Tastings held at the restaurant. Dates of the tastings are yet to be scheduled.

“This is an opportunity to mingle and teach people what [they] are looking for in a wine and a good way to get people together to come and talk about drinking and eating,” Roman said.

There will also be a wide variety of bottled beers and fresh Sangria to order. The complete list is still in the workings, but diners can expect a wide variety of spirits from the West Coast as well as different countries throughout the world.

“We are hoping it’s going to be a restaurant that fits the expectations of the town and I hope the food will be something new and refreshing,” he said.

Frank L. Pittelli April 05, 2011 at 06:13 PM
We were thoroughly impresssed with Vinoco! With so much variation in the food and dipping sauces, we need another visit just in case there was something we missed out on. This was no fault of Mr. Roman or Mr. Meza. They both came over to our table of 6 several times, not just to see if we were enjoying ourselves, but to give us their knowledge and some history on what we were consuming. Bravo to you both and the best of luck with your resturant, although great food and service wins out over luck ever time! Two thumbs up! Frank L. Pittelli & Family
Diane Drescher April 05, 2011 at 07:19 PM
I was there with my family right after it opened and was thrilled with the food. There is a wide variety of things to choose from and I was not disappointed with any of them. The presentation and taste was excellent not to mention the personal attention we received. I will definitely be going back again with family and friends. Looking forward to seeing what new things there are to taste. Good luck to Vinoco. You have won over these customers right from the start. Diane Drescher & Family!!!

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