Thu. August 29, 2013 12:00 AM
by Rick Karlin
Chef-owner Giovanni DeNigris bases his menu on the cuisine of his hometown of Puglia, Italy, at Trattoria Trullo in the heart of Lincoln Square. The history of Puglia is fascinating. Puglia is known for conical shaped houses called trellis which were first built in prehistoric times by tribes from the middle east and Asia Minor. The first Greek settlers in the area developed and embellished the trulli. The word 'trullo' is derived from the Greek word, tholos, which refers to a circular dome-shaped construction.
That mixture of cultures made for a local cuisine that is definitely Italian, but one that exhibits influences of the Greeks and various cultures of the Middle East, and Trattoria Trullo's menu mirrors these influences. The wine menu features nearly 70 choices, more than a third of which come from Puglia. There's an Italian inspired kitchen outfitted with an imported oven allowing you to observe the chefs toss and bake pizzas as you relax over your wine. On Sundays, typical Pugilan breakfast fare such as frittatas, omelets and seafood salad are available, along with more traditional American options.
The pizza oven turns out pies with a thin crispy crust and feature, along with the traditional topping options, more exotic ingredients, such as; Cerignola olives, Barese sausage, Wursthel sausage, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. Appetizers selections include a delicious mixed seafood grill of perfectly cooked octopus, squid and shrimp served over Tuscan beans and sautéed rapini. If you prefer your calamari fried, that option is available as well. One of the more unusual options, melazone al cartoccio (eggplant rolled around spinach and seasoned bread crumbs with pomodoro sauce and Parmesan) is delightful.
Among the fresh salads available are the traditional insalata di mare (shrimp, calamari and octopus marinated in extra virgin olive oil, with fresh lemon and parsley over mixed greens) and baby spinach, pinenuts, mushrooms and goat cheese with a wild cherry vinaigrette . The spinach and egg tortellini soup is also delicious.
There are always a number of specials each day including risotto and pasta dishes.
For something out of the ordinary, try the trofiette Pugliese, a Pugliese pasta tossed with a savory combination of mortadella, tomato, basil and buratta cheese. Ziti, served with a puree of white fava bean and an Italian chicory and tomato stew is another authentic Puglianese dish. The conchiglie ripieni features jumbo shell pasta filled with a mixture of mascarpone and ricotta and spinach, baked in tomato-basil cream sauce and served with meatballs. For meat lovers there's a New York strip steak, veal scaloppini marsala and parmigiana, boneless chicken breast with lemon and olive oil sauce and sandwiches ranging from sausage with roasted red peppers and smoked mozzarella cheese to the Trullo Panini; with salami, braseola, prosciutto di parma, mortadella, provolone and tomatoes. There are also a number of vegetarian pasta dishes, entrees and sandwiches available.
Desserts are tempting, ranging from the traditional panzerotti, pannacotta, cannoli, gelati and tira misu to flourless chocolate cake and orange crème brulee. Service is efficient and personable (and very good looking). The street-side café faces the European-influenced Lincoln Square, you'd never know you were just steps from busy Lawrence Avenue.