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Table for Two

New owner spins her labor of love into progress

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Amerrickana Tapas Bar & Restaurant

2205 Merrick Road, Merrick

(516) 442-2188

Amerrickana Tapas Bar & Restaurant was purchased by the Jacob family only weeks ago. Haizel Jacob, who runs the operation, is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate who also trained as a chef in Singapore. Originally from Dubai, she came here as a child and grew up on Long Island. Her passion for cooking is endless and she prepares everything as if it were for her family. The previous menu remains for now, but Haizel has been tweaking some of the existing dishes and plans to add some of foods she grew up with, specifically of Mediterranean and Indian origin.

Amerrickana is a cozy spot for a date night, friends’ outing, or to watch a sporting event. The intimate space holds under a dozen tables and a back-lit bar lined with wine racks. Up front are glass French doors. Ceilings are high with exposed piping, giving it a city feel.

Tapas is a term that traditionally implies appetizers of Spain, and “small plates” dominate the menu. But Amerrickana’s cuisine, which also includes full entrees, is more global and fusion. You’ll find at least a hint of most cuisines on the menu — American, Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican and more. There is plenty to choose for anyone. Flavors run the gamut from gentle comfort food to truly spicy. My best advice is to ask before ordering.

In contrast to the “small” theme, portions (even on the small plates) are surprisingly generous. Tapas, salads, flat breads, soups and tacos are $7 to $15. Mac & Cheese options, sliders, and boards (cheese or Italian with meats) are $7 to $17. Entrees are $12 to $22, and desserts are $6 and $7 each or $15 for a sampler. There’s a substantial wine list and cocktail menu.

Homemade parmigiana potato chips in a spiral wire cone with a warm queso replaces the standard bread basket. We enjoyed White Sangria laden with assorted fruits. From the list of flatbreads (Buffalo Chicken, Roasted Vegetables, Mediterranean and others) we adored Fig & Prosciutto. The crisp flat bread is baked on site. Covering melted mozzarella was prosciutto and homemade fig jam — simply luscious. Bacon Mac & Cheese, served in an iron skillet, was outstanding — shell pasta tossed in a creamy rue base, baked with pepper jack and cheddar cheeses, sprinkled with parsley. Breaded Crab Cakes (two) were served with lemon aioli and parsley oil.

We were given a preview of the new Indian dishes. These were delicious; choose only if heat (spiciness) is your penchant. Tangy Chicken Pilaf was divided into three sections — basmati rice pilaf, morsels of chicken seasoned with sumac blend, and salad with a mayo-based dressing. Pav Bhaji, a spiced potato/red onion/tomato mash seasoned with Indian chili powder, was topped with cilantro and onions, and served with crisp homemade rolls (pav) to scoop up the mixture.

Desserts here are special. Challah Bread Pudding, made with white chocolate custard and orange zest, was brushed with rum, topped with whipped cream, and served warm in a martini glass. Banana Lumpia (a Philippine dessert also called Turon) included half bananas and brown sugar in spring roll wrappers, fried, rolled n spiced sugar, and drizzled with caramel, vanilla and chocolate sauces.

Hours are 4 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. They plan to open in the near future for lunch and brunch, so call for new hours. Small parties can be arranged for up to 42 people, and they do catering trays to be picked up. Reservations are suggested. Changes, from décor to menu, are a work in progress.

Recommendations:

■ White Sangria

■ Fig & Prosciutto Flat Bread

■ Mac & Cheese with Bacon

■ Crab Cakes Breaded

■ Tangy Chicken Pilaf

■ Pav Bhaji

■ Challah Bread Pudding

■ Bananas Lumpia (Turon)