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.)
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.
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