FOOD REVIEW: True American Kitchen

348 East Jericho Tpke, Mineola
(516) 747-5100 |

The new true serves hefty portions of hearty American dishes. Southern fried chicken and waffles, Louisiana shrimp and grits, steaks, burgers, Georgia peach barbeque baby rack ribs, Kentucky bourbon-marinated pork chops and Grandma’s meatloaf poppers are typical orders of the day. Water is served in Mason jars and there are five televisions scattered around the comfortably rustic brick and wood dining room and bar.

All of this big, blunt food and no nonsense surroundings might sound like an unrefined tavern, yet the 120-seat True—outfitted in bare tables and floors, hanging lanterns and a central skylight—is anything but a rough and ready pub. Unexpected touches not initially obvious mark it as a much more meticulous, sophisticated restaurant than it seems at first glance. The weighted, high-quality silverware is a step above the usual. That fried chicken and waffle dish contains an unusual garnish: deep-fried parsley. The waitstaff seems to be composed of upbeat, seasoned pros—speaking of seasoning, none of the dishes required any. That might be because chef Jason Deleo earned his stripes at some of the Island’s most superior restaurants: MP Taverna, The Brass Rail, Circa and Havana. Now as the kitchen commander at True he’s churning out informal, unpretentious food that often resonates with flavor.


From the “Let’s Begin” section of the menu target the roasted pear and gorgonzola salad featuring two warm, tender pear halves accompanied by a supporting cast of greens, candied pecans, endive, Fuji apples and a touch of gorgonzola with cider vinaigrette ($12). On the “Moving Along” section two bell ringers are the three Kentucky bourbon pork belly sliders ($12) that are crunchy from their cabbage slaw mantle and six Grandma’s meatloaf poppers on a bed of mashed potatoes infused with country barbeque gravy ($14). The Louisiana shrimp and grits ($16) drew mixed reactions at our table with half the diners feeling their Creole tomato cream sauce was too sweet while the other half thought it was just right.

Think pork at entrée time. Of the four main courses sampled the two pork dishes ranked first and second. Those Georgia peach barbeque baby back ribs ($24) were homey, straightforward, fall-from-the-bone treats and the Kentucky bourbon-marinated pork chop ($32) was moist, tender and deeply flavored. The chicken and waffles with maple cayenne drizzle ($24) sported crisp, greaseless breading but far too much of it. Yet, the sumptuous roast Long Island duck ($30) was boosted by its imaginative sides: kale, faro, toasted walnuts and foie gras.

Most of the desserts were anticlimactic. There was a small slice of standard New Yorkstyle cheesecake ($8), dryish chocolate molten cake ($10) and too-sweet pecan pie ($8). The exception was warm, ripe apple crumb pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream ($11).

richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.