When it comes to food Queens has Brooklyn beat. After all, the diversity and quality of the grub in Queens is simply mind-blowing. Plus, we have M. Wells Dinette. And as of this past weekend Queens is giving Smorgasburg a run for its money with the newly opened LIC Flea & Food. Here’s a look at some of the market’s food offerings.
Alobar’s big dog topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw.
On Saturday morning I was actually at Smorgasburg performing a Thai chicken skin mitzvah for my friends over at Scharf & Zoyer. They also turned me on to a sandwich and I sampled some wonderful couscous from NYSHUK. And then, I had some ice cream from nearby Oddfellows. So, by the time I got to Long Island City the old food tank was pretty full. Good as it looked there was no way I would have been able to take down Alobar’s Big Dog ($12) a frankfurter topped with ginger pulled pork and carrot slaw. (more…)
O.G. ethnic food scribe Robert Sietsema is back in the saddle with a new column at Eater, which specializes in microneighborhoods. First up Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with Pakistani goat feet and some stupendous sounding khachapuri, from Georgian Bread.
James Boo is also on the khachapuri trail, with a 1 Minute Meal video for Serious Eats New York about the tasty cheese-enriched bread, as baked by Shorena Dalakishvili, who says that in Georgia, “Everywhere, everybody have khachapuri.” No word on whether everybody weighs 300 pounds.
And SENY’s J. Kenji López-Alt has a stunning report on the “Holy Grail of New York Sushi,” including hotaru ika, baby firefly squid smeared with kani miso, a paste made from the guts of cooked crabs. J.K. writes: “This one is no joke—you have to like intense ocean aromas to get past its take-no-prisoners approach to flavor.” Sounds great J.K., I’m all about intense ocean aroma and flavor. (more…)
An old school slice in the midst of New York City’s most dynamic Chinatown.
Unlike Manhattan Chinatown, which borders Little Italy, downtown Flushing has little or no Italian food. There is precisely one Italian restaurant, Lucia Pizza. It sits across from New World Mall, and has been there since well before that mall was a Caldor. Its opening also predates New York current pizza Napoletana craze.
The draw here is unreconstructed old-school New York City pizza, by the pie,or more often the slice. Hand over $2.25, grab a perch at the counter and dig into a taste of days gone by. The Sicilian slice is pretty good too. I once asked the counterman here why he didn’t have kimchi pizza, like T.J.’s a spot that has since closed. He looked at me like I was nuts.
Ligaya Mishan of the Times weighs in on Salt & Fat in Sunnyside whose pork belly buns are capable of “evoking not so much a Big Mac as your best childhood memory of it.” Mishan’s takeaway: “. . . not every dish is hellbent on living up to the restaurant’s name.”
Over at The Atlantic Michael Moss writes about a food that is hell-bent on the use of salt, fat, and sugar: the potato chip. Apart from an incisive analysis of why chips are so addictive, or craveable as snack industry gurus like to say there’s this revelation: ”chip companies spend a lot of effort creating a perfectly noisy, crunchy chip.”
The Village Voice offers a hit list of the city’s 10 best French fries, including Mile End’s wonderful looking smoked-meat poutine fries. Sadly the only entry for Queens is Huajio fried potatoes at Little Pepper.While the Sichuan-accented fries are quite good, surely Joju’s ultracrunchy bizarre banh mi fries deserve a spot.
And Tejal Rao makes me incredibly hungry for the pristine flavors and jewel-box presentation of Japanese vegan cusine as served at Kajitsu in Midtown.
O.G. ethnic food enthusiast Robert Sietsema files a dispatch headlined, “Shanghai Newcomer Full House Brings Back Soup Dumplings.” I’m sure the xiao long bao at this Bowery spot are quite good, but here in Queens soup dumplings never left.
Over at Esquire’s Eat Like a Man John Mariani writes about his bromance with the Bronx hood, Belmont where one can score fresh mozzarella that’s still warm and slurp clams on the sidewalk. Sign me up, John.
Max Falkowitz endures the wrath of a surly paesan working the counter at Little Italy’s Parisi Bakery and orders a dreadnought of a sandwich: a potato and egg on an 18-inch loaf of lard bread. Now why didn’t I think of that.
Serious Eats New York files a review of the “raw and unafraid, maybe a little off-kilter” home cooking that my homegirl Big Sister Zhu is slinging at Flushing’s Lao Cheng Du.
I count myself a big fan of the pork belly at Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi in Murray Hill, now there’s another reason to love the Korean joint with the smiling piggy in the window: cold naengmyun noodles served in a bowl that is itself made of ice.
Pete Wells’ one-star New York Times review of Randazzo’s Clam Bar in the County of Kings makes this Italian-American boy hunger for “calama “with “the Sauce.”
I can’t remember the last time I ate on Brooklyn’s Smith Street, but Tejal Rao’s review of Nightingale 9′s Southern American-Vietnamese cuisine and its “fried rice crisped in pig fat” makes me want to hop a train to Carroll Gardens right now.
Thanks to O.G. Village Voice food writer Robert Sietsema, I now know where my pal Phillip Kirschen-Clark is cooking these days: Café Cluny in the West Village.
About a week ago I had the honor of appearing on Travel Channel’s Street Eats: U.S.A. for a segment on street foods in New York City. For those who didn’t get to see it and for those who crave more curbside cuisine I’ve devoted this week’s edition of The Seven to street food. Here then in no particular order are seven of my current street food faves. Some appeared on the show, and some some didn’t. Have a favorite street food you think I left out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
1. Pedro El Cevichero I first encountered Pedro’s sidewalk ceviche outside a market in Elmhurst. His Mexican ceviche mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, and a tomato-based sauce. South of the Border ceviche is called coctele, as in shrimp cocktail. It’s more of a cold seafood soup than the Peruvian version. Pedro makes it right before your very eyes. It’s like watching a seafood mixologist as you listen to the 7 train rumble by overhead. Shrimp cocteles are available in three sizes ($8, $10, $12). The excellent mixto, shrimp and octopus is ($6, $8, $10). Find Pedro at Roosevelt Ave. and 80th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
2. Baul Daada Jaal Muri Shop This is not so much a shop as a streetside Bangladeshi chaat vendor. As the name implies there’s only one specialty here, jaal muri. Three bucks gets you an order of Baul Daada’sspicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. Find Daada on 73 St. near 37 Ave. from late afternoon to around 10 p.m. weather permitting. (more…)
With a menu that includes Italian-inspired fare from Famiglia Chiarelli and German-inspired dishes from Familie Dieterle Harold Dieterle’s The Marrow is a deeply personal restaurant. It is also deeply delicious at least based on the dish I tried, The Bone Marrow ($16) Chef Dieterle’s genius combination of uni and bone marrow with baby celery leaves, Meyer lemon aioli, and crunchy little potato cubes. The man in charge of what is surely New York City’s first Teutonic-Italian eatery took some time to answer Seven Questions as he prepped for dinner service last Friday afternoon.
The Marrow’s menu is a nod to your lineage, you’re half German and half Sicilian right? My paternal grandmother is actually Irish but her husband was 100% German. I grew up eating two very different styles of cuisine. Half the time I’d eat very German, schnitzels, spaetzels, a lot of braises, very peasant style food. The other half of the time I would eat very southern Italian style food.
What do your folks think of the half German half Italian menu? They love it. It’s a very personal restaurant to me. They’re very excited about it. They’re proud that this is what I decided to go with for the next place.
Why did you name the restaurant The Marrow? A lot of our restaurants have double meanings, so The Marrow really means the center of or the best part of. It’s very much a meat-focused restaurant, so we thought it would be a fun name. (more…)
Way back in the day before I was a professional glutton, before Sriracha sauce was a staple condiment, I was an English major. So in honor of my roots today’s edition of The Seven is devoted to some of my favorite poems about food. For your dining pleasure I’ve suggested food pairings.
2. A Supermarket in California, by Allen Ginsberg Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg’s encounter with his inspiration Walt Whitman in a supermarket. Pair with “artichokes . . .[and] every frozen delicacy.”
3. The Clean Plater, by Ogden Nash
Nash’s ditty about an indiscriminate passionate eater is best paired with,”Food/Just food/Just any old kind of food.” That said the author seems to have a preference for
sirloin and asparagus tips vinaigrette.
4. This Is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams
This classic apologizing for author’s snatching some fruit from the fridge is best paired with cold, sweet plums. (more…)
Getting to the heart of the matter, Sicilian style.
I’ve been told more than once that I have forsaken my Italian heritage to devote myself to Asian cuisine. Usually I take this in stride, especially since my Sicilian-American father inspired my love of Asian food. Sometime though I need to feel that red sauce flowing in my veins. I head over to Mama’s of Corona for a meatball parmigiana sandwich. If that doesn’t get my Italian heart beating then I know I need serious treatment, a pilgrimage to that shrine of Sicilian soul food, Joe’s of Avenue U, located in deepest Brooklyn.
Via the F from from Queens it’s an hour-plus trek. Visible from the subway platform Joe’s specializes in all manner of Sicilian grandma food like cacocciuli stufati ($7.99.) I cut my teeth on my mother’s gigantic globe artichokes stuffed with a mixture of garlicky breadcrumbs. More unusual is the occasional special of cacocciuli frittu ($6), or fried artichoke hearts. It’s something I haven’t seen outside of Joe’s. I could go for some right now and perhaps a vastedda ($6.99), a calf spleen sandwich topped with a dollop of ricotta. I think feel a pilgrimage coming on.
Joe of Avenue U, 287 Avenue U, Gravesend, 718-449-9285
The last time I had a panini was at some awful Midtown eatery in an office building where I once worked. For a while the Italian sandwiches became so trendy and I wrote them off completely. Then about two years ago I started hearing raves about the panini at Il Bambino in Astoria. Last night I finally made it there.
When I walked in and saw one wall devoted to a huge carcass map of a pig,with cuts and various salumi labeled in Italian I knew Il Bambino was my kind of place. There are 21 types of pressed sandwiches on offer here, including Italian meatloaf with onion jam, tomato pesto, spicy mayo, and provolone. I chose the Berkshire ham ($11) with garlic spinach, peach mustard, and taleggio. It’s tempting to compare this sandwich to a Cubano, but it’s really a thing unto itself. And it’s a good thing at that. The salty smoky ham was in perfect balance with the slightly funky cheese, and sweet fruity mustard. Pressed to a nice crunch too. The garlicky spinach added a nice punch too and I got to eat some greens.
As I was sipping an after dinner espresso I noticed that the menu contains 16 types of over the top brunch Panini, including The Italian Nut Job ($11), which features a wacky combo of prosciutto, membrillo, ameretti cookies, gorgonzola dolce. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time at this place.
Il Bambino, 34-08 31st Ave., Astoria, 718-626-0087