Articles by

Joe DiStefano

Newsstand
05/28/15 9:04am
plantlovepot

Dig it. Plant Love’s signature ice cream comes served in a flower pot.

There was time when what most excited me about Thai food was incendiary spice levels. I still love a good spicy Thai dish, but what gets me going these days are noodles and Thai desserts. Yes, there are Thai places in New York City where the pinnacle of dessert is fried ice cream. Thankfully Elmhurst’s Little Bangkok is not such a place. In fact it’s home to two of my favorite places for Thai dessert, Plant Love House and the aptly named Sugar Club. (more…)

05/20/15 9:55am
INASALSANDWICH

Ube ice cream topped with crunchy beaten rice and coconut all in a warm roll.

The pandi-ice cream ($5.50) at House of Inasal is surely the most elaborate pair of ice cream sandwiches to ever be served under the 7 train. I haven’t been this excited about an ice cream sandwich since the Chipwich.

A friend has been encouraging me try to this dessert in the Little Manila spot for months. Yesterday it was finally hot and humid enough. “Ube ice cream sandwich with halaya, coconut, and pinipig,” read the menu. Despite the menu language pandi-ice cream turns out to be two—not one—sandwiches each served on a warm pan de sal. (more…)

05/19/15 9:08am
BIGELOWS2

A selection of golden fried seafood from Bigelow’s.

I must have driven past the cheery blue and white Bigelow’s Seafood on Long Beach Road thousands of times in my life. It was a favorite of my father’s, but for some reason we never ate there when I was growing up. Some 30 years after first laying eyes on the cheery blue and white building, I finally got the chance to dine at the 76-year-old institution and try their infamous Ipswich clams, among other things. (more…)

05/18/15 2:13pm
queenstastecrowd

Hungry hobnobbers at the New York Hall of Science for Queens Taste 2015.

Last Tuesday evening in my capacity as the QEDC Foodie I had the good pleasure of attending Queens Taste 2015. More than two dozen restaurants from a broad range of cuisines—Thai, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian and haute Canadian steakhouse to name just a few—packed the New York Hall of Science, a venue better known for school field trips than tasting events. The venue along with people’s choice judging was a first for the annual gala.

The event bore the tag line: “The Best Food on the Planet.” While that statement’s certainly true of the borough itself, it was slightly disappointing, but only because it would take a hall as vast as the Javits Center to contain all the deliciousness that Queens holds. (more…)

05/13/15 12:50pm
quesadila

El Salvador’s version of the quesadilla is not what you think.

As one of the only Salvadoran spots in the largely Asian stronghold of Flushing, El Ranchito De Daisy is quite an anomaly. The pupusas are good but the quesadilla Savadoreno ($3) is really quite remarkable.

“What’s that I asked?” spying the golden brown ovoids lining the counter. “Quesadilla,” came the response. “Quesadilla!!? Quesadilla de que?” I asked in my best bad Spanish. “De arroz,” the gent behind the counter replied. (more…)

05/11/15 10:15am
PLANTLOVESUMMER

Sure to be this summer’s spiciest bowl of kuai tiao.

Long before I ever slurped the kuai tiao that have taken Queens by storm in places like Pye Boat Noodle, Pata Paplean, and Plant Love House I took great pride in ordering my food Thai spicy. Whether larb, curry, or som tum the resulting chili pepper overkill from uttering those two words invariably left my lips burning and nose running. These days I rarely ever utter the words “Thai spicy.” The bowl of noodles that goes by the name Summer ($12.95) currently being served at Plant Love House is far more incendiary than any dish I ever consumed during my Thai spicy days. (more…)

05/06/15 10:59am
CHUTAMADRE

A taste of Ecuador on a bun via Long Island City.

There’s plenty of pork—succulent hornado Ecuatoriano with crackling skin and deep fried fritada—to be had at the constellation of vendors orbiting the Junction Boulevard stop on the 7 train. There’s one thing missing from the bustling Little Ecuador though, a pork sandwich. Sanduches de chacho hornado are a street food tradition in Ecuador, but until a little while ago they haven’t been seen much in Queens. All that changed a few weeks ago when Chuta Madre, an Ecuadorian Sanducheria, made its debut at LIC Flea. (more…)

05/04/15 10:12am
BOHIO3

The frio frio man’s new flavor tastes like a tropical vacation via Corona.

There’s no surer sign for this Queens kid that spring’s here and summer’s around the corner than the emergence of the frio frio man, a Dominican shaved ice vendor, in the window of El Bohio Grocery. Bottles of fruit flavored syrup—tamarindo, naranja, limon, coco, and frambuesa—line the counter along with a 75-pound block of ice. By the time I arrived on a sunny late afternoon last week the glacier had been whittled down to about 25 pounds by the shuss shuss shuss of his scraper. If Benfaremo is the Lemon Ice King of Corona then this gentleman is surely Corona’s El Rey del Frio Frio Dominicano. (more…)

04/29/15 11:07am
johnbrownsandwich

The Mack Daddy of barbecue sandwiches!

I’m such a fan of low and slow American barbecue, particularly the deckle or luscious top cut of the brisket, that years ago I acquired a BBQ moniker: Joey Deckle. One of my favorite preparations is Kansas City style burnt ends, crusty sweet and spicy nuggets of twice smoked brisket. My go-to spot for this luscious meat candy is John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City. (more…)

04/27/15 10:41am
laphingserpo

Refreshing and much easier to eat than its blockier cousin.

Lhasa Fast Food is a favorite stop on my Jackson Heights food tours. My fellow travelers are always amazed to discover a family-run Tibetan eatery tucked behind a cell phone store. The momo are excellent, too. The other day I made a discovery of my own—laphing serpo ($6)—while leading a tour of what I like to call Himalayan Heights.

“Yellow laphing,” the cook said when I gestured to a mass of what looked to be dough behind the counter. Laphing, slippery blocky cold mung bean jelly noodles, bathed in black vinegar, garlic and chilies is quite common on Tibetan menus. This was my first encounter with the yellow variety, though. (more…)