I first met Vinny Accardi, the chef at the newish Room 55 in Glendale at the kickoff to Queens Restaurant Week. He had run out of food but was quick to tell me that his first restaurant “overdelivers on the food,” and suggested I come in for a tasting.
So I took him up on the offer a few weeks later. The restaurant, named for the month and day of his graduation from the Culinary Institute of America in 2000, is tucked away on an otherwise nondescript block. Everything I tasted, from the autumn harvest salad ($9) of mixed greens, beets, and candied walnuts with warm goat cheese to his casino style Little Neck clams ($11) was excellent, but my favorite dish was the one of the menu’s two pasta offerings.
Accardi’s quick to point out that there’s an Italian or Italian-American restaurant on every other block, hence the concept of Modern American. The Hell’s Kitchen vet can’t fool me with that pasta Danielle ($13/$25) though. The dish of tender slow cooked lamb shanks, caramelized shallots, prune, and chewy strands of pasta judiciously seasoned with pepper and sage might not be my father’s Sunday gravy, but it is pure Italian comfort food for the brisk days of early fall. I wish I had a bowl right now.
A few days later I returned to find Room 55 packed for dinner. The rabbit special I had was superb. Accardi is a local boy who grew up in Maspeth and is proud to use honey that comes right from Glendale along with other local ingredients. After stints at Union Pacific, a head chef gig at Rouge in Forest Hills and some time in Las Vegas Accardi has returned home. I can only hope that Room 55 does as well Salt & Fat and Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen, two other establishments opened by native Queens’ sons that make me proud to live in the tastiest borough in New York City. Good luck Vinny!
Room 55, 75-01 88th Street, Glendale, 718-897-0055