12/24/13 10:17am

Venezuelan Christmas Tamales Found in a Forest Hills Pizzeria

HALLACAS

Tu Arepa opened just in time to start selling hallacas for Christmas.

Tu Arepa Pizza Cafe stands in the grand tradition of Queens pizzerias with a sideline in ethnic eats. At Tu Arepa, that sideline is the griddled corn cakes known as arepas and other Venezuelan specialties. Come Christmastime that means hallacas ($8) and pan de jamon ($28), both yuletide favorites back home in Puerto La Cruz. A mixture of pork and chicken studded with raisins, green olives, chopped potato, and peppers fills the rustic hallaca at Tu Arepa. (In case you are wondering about that pan de jamon (ham and olive bread) all of tomorrow’s 18-inch loaves are presold, but the shop will be taking orders though the end of the year.)

HALLACAS2

Tu Arepa was once a kosher pizzeria.

Once upon a time Tu Arepa was a kosher pizzeria. As of three days ago it became the only Venezuelan spot in Rego Park. It’s also the only pizzeria/Venezuelan spot I have come across. I was going to get an arepa after the tasty hallaca, but that would have been too gluttonous even for me.

CACHAPA

Tu Arepa’s cachapa enfolds salty cheese in a corn studded discus.

Instead I opted for a cachapa ($3). I suppose you could call it a Venezuelan calzone, but only because it contains a salty mozzarella-like cheese. A disc of sweet dough studded with corn kernels is fold over salty queso de mano.

I have already asked the folks at Tu Arepa if they’d be willing to top a slice of pizza with carne mechada, a Venezuelan shredded beef stew that’s a popular filling for arepas. Who knows they just might  do it, after all stranger things have happened to pizza in Queens.

Tu Arepa Pizza Cafe, 100-22 67th Ave., Forest Hills, 718-766-8900

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2 Comment

  • I almost don’t want to bring this up, purely out of selfishness, but have you tried the “Roosevelt Avenue” pie/slice from Creative Pizza on Woodhaven? Coca-Cola braised pork, Oaxaca cheese, pickled serranos, and spicy sauce…awesome. My kids and I are hooked on it…ordered a pie last night and another tonight. Total Queens mash-up! They have some other interesting combos as well, but none like this one.