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…)

07/10/14 10:08am
FRUITMAN

Nothing beats the heat like fresh tropical fruit.

It’s hot in the big city children. As much as I like to sweat over a bowl of mapo tofu or tuck into a bowl of Thai soup, sometimes the best way to cool off is the tropical way, by sipping on the cool hydrating milk of a freshly hacked open young coconut. And there’s no better place  to get one than the decidedly laid back Dominican gentleman who his fruit stand sits on the north side of Rooosevelt Avenue near 104 Street. I’ve been waiting for him to set up shop and was glad to see that he’s back on the street food scene. (more…)

02/19/14 9:57am
CM-MAMAS

An Italian-American cure for the wintertime blues.

If you’re anything like me you’ve had enough of winter. So today’s Sandwich Wednesday is for you and me, one of my summertime favorites, the Mama’s Special ($7.50) from Leo’s Latticini in Corona. I like to eat it in the backyard of the neighboring cafe, which like most of Queens is still a frozen waste land.

Unlike other Italian combos, which employ an entire deli case of meats, this hero takes a more restrained approach. Three ingredients: Genoa salami, pepper ham, and creamy white mozzarella are tucked into a semolina loaf. You will be asked if you want roasted peppers and marinated mushrooms. It’s an offer you shouldn’t refuse. I’d give my lucky chopsticks to eat one right now and watch Corona’s boys of summer play boccie in nearby Spaghetti Park. And, of course an Italian ice for dessert.

Leo’s Latticini (Mama’s of Corona), 46-02 104th St., Corona, 718-898-6069

01/20/14 10:02am
TLAYUDA1

Way better than Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza.

I’ve passed Cienega Grocery & Deli dozens and dozens of times in my perambulations through Corona. I’ve always meant to stop in this Mexican grocer/restaurant. The other day the stars aligned in such a way that I poked my head in and learned that this humble deli specializes in the seldom-seen cuisine of Oaxaca, in the country’s Southwest. “Que es tlayuda?” read a hand lettered menu board. “Tortilla gigante de maiz orginaria de Oaxaca,” it continued, listing several options, including al pastor and chorizo.

I don’t if I was more excited to read Oaxaca or tortilla gigante. “Do you have chivo?” I asked. Once I got through the formalities and told them I knew what chivo was, I asked for a tlayuda topped with goat and eagerly awaited the arrival of the mystery antojito.

(more…)

10/30/13 10:16am
TORTASELECCION

Bisteck a la Mexicana is the star of La Seleccion.

“I’m sorry my friend. After tomorrow, no more tortas for you,” Galdino “Tortas” Molinero said as I perused the menu of Tortas Neza. The six-month permit for his mobile temple of tortas and fútbol runs out on Halloween, but Tortas is closing shop the day before.

“But where shall I go to procure a Mexican soccer themed sandwich the size of my head in the middle of the night,” I thought. Actually that’s a lie my thoughts were more like, “Better try something I haven’t had before.” That’s how I wound up eating a not so little number called La Seleccion ($9). Like of all of his sandwiches it’s named after a Mexican  fútbol club and is so messy that I took my watch off. (I also removed my jacket and did a warm up stretch.) (more…)

09/13/13 10:02am

As I wrote earlier this week the ginormous Pumas from Corona’s Tortas Neza, is one of my favorite sandwiches in Queens. It’s named for the truck’s owner’s favorite soccer team. The truck offers many other slightly less titanic sandwiches, each named for a Mexican soccer team. About a month ago some pals and I met up with  James Boo to help him produce the above video love letter “to the moment of celebration when your oversized, painstakingly assembled sandwich hits the counter, informing you that those dinner plans will have to be postponed.” Tortas Neza is also one of the many food trucks and vendors that will be at the upcoming Viva La Comida! festival in Jackson Heights.

09/11/13 10:02am

There are a lot of sandwiches to be had in Queens, so for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, I thought I’d call out seven of my favorites. Some are big, and some are small, but they’re all delicious and hold a special place in my heart and stomach.

Each sandwich is about the size of yiour head.

Each sandwich is about the size of your head.

1. Tortas Pumas,Tortas Neza
You’ll need to round up some amigos to help you eat this $14 behemoth from Queens’ tastiest torta truck. The ingredients include headcheese, a chorizo omelet, and fried hot dogs. 111th St. and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona

Scotch bonnet pepper sauce makes it even more bangin’.

Scotch bonnet pepper sauce makes it even more bangin’.

2. Bangamary Sandwich, Sybil’s Restaurant & Bakery
A crunchy fried fillet of bangamary—also known as the king weakfish—is tucked into a Guyanese roll. What makes this sandwich ($6) truly great though is a medley of condiments, including tamarind and tartar sauce. A bit of fruity, fiery Scotch bonnet sauce sends the whole thing into the flavor stratosphere. 132-17 Liberty Ave., Richmond Hill,  718-835-9235 (more…)

08/16/13 11:41am
COOLKIDS

Sandheko wai wai, cool kids only!

Thanks to Gary Stevens for turning me on to this great piece on Wai Wai, the Nepalese snack that’s become something of an obsession for me. In it the author describes how the noodles eaten raw were the province of the cool kids in his school. Nice to know I’m finally one of the cool kids.

Max Falkowitz waxes rhapsodic about his favorite steakhouse, and it’s not Peter Luger’s, but rather Argentinean steakhouse El Gauchito in Corona. “The crust is a rich, purple-tinged mahogany, heavily dosed with salt; it gives way to a buttery, resoundingly beefy interior without a trace of chewiness,” he writes of the skirt steak. Have a feeling I’ll be going there soon. (more…)

07/15/13 10:30am

ASG-SMALLPUMAS-2a

The Puma from Tortas Neza is big enough to feed your entire team.

Despite the Mets colors that I often fly I like to say that I’m more of a Queens fan than a fan of the beleaguered ball club. One thing that I’m surely a fan of is my home borough’s diverse and delicious food. So as a public service to baseball fans—native New Yorkers and tourists alike—I devote this week’s edition of The Seven to a lineup of places to eat before and after the 2013 MLB All-Star Game being held tomorrow night at Citi Field at 7:30 p.m.   (more…)

07/02/13 10:30am
9007979162_9b7f3716f8

The spread at Park Side.                    Photo: Max Falkowitz /Serious Eats

Even though I am as Italian-American as the cuisine I always feel somewhat out of place at Park Side, the 30-year-old red sauce temple overlooking Corona’s bocce court. Granted I’ve only been twice, but both times I’ve felt as if I were relegated to the children’s table at a family Thanksgivng. Perhaps it is too much for a pezzonovante like myself to expect to dine on the main floor.

A few weeks ago I dined there with some food writer pals, including Max Falkowitz, editor of Serious Eats New York. I showed up in a summer weight suit, sporting a tie and cuff links. My dining companions were neatly dressed, but I seemed to be the sole standard-bearer of Italian-American swag. Even without the disparity in our attire the truth is I still would have felt out of place. The glitzy Marilyn room calls to mind my Uncle Carmine’s house were it eight times bigger and filled with strangers. (more…)