“You got to try our Cuban,” George Landin owner of street wear boutique All The Right told me when I stopped by other week to sign his copy of my guidebook “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss.”
Landin was referring to a Cuban sandwich on the menu of his latest venture, the Corona Diner, which opened this past summer. Just as my book is a love letter to Queens so is Landin’s diner. A mural featuring a who’s who of Queens—from rappers like Action Bronson, Run-DMC, and Nas to stars like Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Lucy Liu—lines one wall and the doors to the kitchen mimic those of the 7 train.
Let’s get back to that Cuban sandwich though. The Cubano, with its combination of pork, Swiss cheese, ham, mustard, a requisite slathering of garlic all pressed into a delicious amalgam is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. It had been at least a year since I’d eaten one, so I was especially eager to try Corona Diner’s version.
I’ve had Cubans pressed so thin that the bread shattered like glass upon biting. Corona Diner’s Cubano isn’t quite that crunchy, but it is among the best I’ve ever had. What sets it apart is the sheer flavor of the pork itself. The kitchen serves the pickles on the side, so I ate one half with out pickles and the other half with pickles.
Afterwards I asked the waitress if the chef was available to tell me how the sandwich was made. He was busy, and she referred me to the menu, which didn’t offer too much insight other than listing the ingredients.
So I went to the source—Big George—to find out why Corona Diner’s Cubano is so good. Landin told me that unlike other Cuban sandwiches where the meat is the relatively dry roast pork shoulder his uses pork butt cooked pernil style. It’s marinated for a day, cooked for six hours, and then pulled after resting for a day. The recipe comes from Landin’s mother Paquita, which his wife, Juliet, updated slightly.
Neither Landin or his wife would tell me anything about the marinade, but I like to think that the most important ingredients are love and tradition.
Corona Diner, 91-28 Corona Ave., Corona, 718-699-0866