10/10/18 4:13pm

A Peruvian breakfast sandwich by way of Northern Boulevard.

“They have Peruvian sandwiches,” my pal Cristina told me a few weeks as I stood slack-jawed in front of Juanita’s, the only Peruvian sangucheria in Queens. We’d already had two meals, so there was no way we were eating any more that afternoon.

A week or so later I returned to the groovy cafe on Northern Boulevard, this time with an appetite. Among the half dozen sandwiches—including pollo a la brasa and butifarra, a home-made roast ham—the one that stood out to me was the chicharrón, after all who doesn’t like shatteringly crisp, succulent pork. Something about the menu description, crispy pork shoulder with sweet potato sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure why until the sanguche hit the table. (more…)

09/12/18 9:12am

This past Saturday I had the privilege of judging Pig Island, a festival of fine swine hosted by my dear friend Jimmy Carbone. The pork was provided by Flying Pigs Farm, and much of it took the form of ribs. As anybody who knows anything about barbecue and cooking it in a festival setting, it’s very easy to screw up ribs. You can take a perfectly good smoked rib and ruin the texture by grilling it afterwards. The best ribs come straight from the smoker, or in the case of my dear friend Rodrigo Duarte, straight from a pig bladder. (more…)

09/05/18 11:34am

Bellwether’s  patty melt is lovely, but it’s more of a cheeseburger.

Sometimes I wish my dear departed friend and meat maven Josh Ozersky was still with us. Partly so I could take him to dodgy Chinese restaurants, but mostly so I could ask him questions about burger lore, like the one in the headline.

I came to the patty melt late in life. I didn’t try one until my late forties. And I suppose that the one I tried, which I believe was at Tower Diner, formed my impression of what a proper patty melt should be. It was composed of a medium rare patty swaddled between two crisp pieces of rye bread along with melted Swiss and caramelized onions.

It was more of of a grilled cheese than a hamburger, and I have it on good authority that that’s how it should be. Most of all it was a messy sandwich oozing an amalgam of beef drippings and fat from the Swiss, what Ozersky would have lovely called “greeze.” (more…)

08/29/18 11:56pm

This late night la pastor cart in Jackson Heights is culinary catnip for a food nerd like me.

In this era of clickbait and “eating for the Insta” it’s all too easy to lose sight of my joy for food exploration, which is why I’m grateful to be what my pal Andrew Zimmern calls a “food nerd.” And, I am especially grateful for fellow food nerds, like my good friends Greg and Jumi of Food & Footprints, whose Instagram page continues to be an inspiration. Without them I would never have have known about the late night al pastor torta man who sets up at the corner of Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue outside a check cashing store.

If my memory serves I first tried to visit the much-heralded street food icon in the winter. While I eagerly waited for Greg, the al pastor man gamely sampled me a taco, after seeing me snap photos and listening to me gush about trying his spit roasted pork. When Greg arrived I eagerly told him about how the guy sampled me a taco, only to learn that this was the wrong al pastor cart. That didn’t stop us from ordering a torta though. It was good, but Greg was quick to tell me that the other guys was even better. (more…)

07/04/18 12:49pm

Simply called ‘salsiccia,’ Maialino’s breakfast biscuit is far from simple.

When it comes to breakfast sandwiches I used to be an old-school bacon-egg-and-cheese man. For the past year or so though, I have been leaning toward the BEC’s heftier cousin, the sausage egg and cheese. There used to be a coffee cart down the street from my house that made them, but one day in April it vanished. So when a pal said I had to try the sausage and egg sandwich at Roman cuisine specialist Maialino, I made it my business to head to the Gramercy Park Hotel for breakfast. (more…)

06/27/18 3:40pm

Cherry Valley’s  Fatboy (left) combines roast beef, gravy, onions and mozzarella while the Corona features a chicken cutlet, cheddar, bacon, onion rings, and barbecue sauce.

A while ago I told a friend who is a longtime Whitestone resident that I’d just tried out the excessive 80-plus sandwich emporium that is Cherry Valley. “You gotta go to Cristina’s across the street,” came his response.

So when my pal Rocky proposed a trek to Whitestone to check out the dueling delis earlier this week I was on board immediately. On the ride over I expressed some concern about my appetite level and intestinal fortitude. “Don’t worry, we’ll strategize,” my pal reassured me.
First up was the O.G. Cherry Valley. The one good thing about going to this popular post-partying munchie spot for lunch as opposed to 3 a.m. is there’s no line, which gave us plenty of time peruse the voluminous menu.

Having wisely decided to get rolls instead of heroes, we ordered one Corona and one Fatboy. I went for the Fatboy first since it was new to me. The combination of grilled roast beef, fried onions, and mozzarella bathed in brown gravy on garlic bread was a great way to start an afternoon of sandwich indulgence. For a creation called the Fatboy it was somewhat dainty. Not so the Corona, though. It was just as I remembered: smoky crisp bacon, chicken cutlet, cheddar, and onion rings anointed with tangy barbecue sauce made for an excessive finale to my Cherry Valley revisit. (more…)

05/16/18 10:35am

When it comes to fried chicken sandwiches I’m easy. I’ve wolfed down everything from a sad hot mess at Wendy’s to a spectacular lunch only dazzler at Joseph Leonard in the West Village. So I’m quite glad that I ducked out of the deluge yesterday and into Urbanspace Vanderbilt because it gave me the opportunity to try the latest creation from Delaney Chicken, the Ranchwich.

As it turns out I wasn’t the only one who decided to duck out of the downpour. Hundreds of stranded commuters waylaid by a suspension of trains from Grand Central crowded the food hall, but that didn’t deter me from making a bee line for Delaney Chicken. I’d tried his classic sandwich a couple of years ago and was wowed by its juiciness and the nice hit of cayenne in the batter.

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04/18/18 10:41pm

“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. (more…)

04/11/18 10:09am

Half of the Hendu’s mighty chicken bolognese grilled cheese.

It’s not so easy to find—much less get excited about— a sandwich every Wednesday. Sometimes the sandwich in question is perfectly fine, but just not exciting enough to write about. And sometimes, as is the case with the unicorn of al pastor tortas, it’s not there when I go looking for it. Which is why I am glad for Hendu’s Sandwich Shop. It’s always there whenever Dutch Kills Bar is open, and it’s always good.

Last night I stopped by in the hope that Bill Henderson would have something to get me out of my Sandwich Wednesday slump. “I’ve got a chicken bolognese grilled cheese,” he said when I asked what was new. “Uh, yeah sounds good,” I stammered. (more…)

03/21/18 2:08pm

There’s something about shawarma—a Middle Eastern exclamation point of rotating meat basting in its own juices—that is absolutely fascinating. Like my dear departed friend Josh Ozersky who once gushed, “Just the outer edge of the meat is sliced, so essentially the sandwich is just the sizzling brown surface of a lamb roast,” I am fascinated with shawarma in all its forms.
Until very recently I have only had the chicken version, but lately the lamb variety—really a blend of lamb and turkey—has come on my radar. Most recently at Tov-Li Shawarma & Falafel a newish Israeli spot that opened on the Bukharian Broadway that is 108th Street in Forest Hills. (more…)