After two decades of eating around New York City I finally got my fress on at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop last week. Funny thing is my first job out of college was right around the corner. I’m not sure what kept me away back then, but these days the proximity of Ben’s Best Deli to my home does a good job.
But back to Eisenberg’s. Gotta love a joint whose slogan is “Raising New York’s Cholesterol Since 1929.” That cholesterol along with plenty of schmaltz and New York attitude has also managed preserve the old school deli tradition.
My pal Drew, clearly an old hand at dining in the joint’s bustling lunch time atmosphere, humored me as I briefly considered the shrimp salad sandwich. “I always get the combo Reuben,” Drew said. Between his cajoling and the waitress’ claim that it was “the best thing in the house,” my choice was made, and I am glad it was. And it wasn’t just any plain vanilla Reuben either, but a combo of pastrami and corned beef. Well worth it for $13, too. The dynamic duo of deli meats, kraut, and cheese almost put me in an old school deli coma. (more…)
There are probably some hamburgers out there worth a 20-minute subway ride and a 20 minute walk involving traversing the BQE. Sadly the cheeseburger at Jackson Hole is not one of them. The loosely packed behemoth is steam griddled, that is to say cooked on a flat top under a dome. A burger should breath free—sputtering and sizzling on the flat top or under a salamander—not suffocate in its own fetid vapors.
Ordered medium rare it was a mushy flavorless gray travesty of a burger utterly devoid of a char. I found myself wishing Tommy DeVito would walk in and put two in the back of my head so that I didn’t have to finish thing.
I did not bother to ask what type of meat it was, it could have a blend of unicorn chuck and golden calf short rib for all I care, the cooking process would still turn it into drek. There’s only tasty steamed burger out there kids: White Castle.
All that said the decor can’t be beat. There’s a reason the folks behind Goodfellas used it in a scene, the exterior of the diner is iconic, all stainless and neon. It’s evokes a time that was simpler and also more glamorous. I’ll bet it was a time when people gave a shit about how their burger tasted.
Jackson Hole, 69-35 Astoria Blvd., Astoria, 718-204-7070
The Giuseppe, Astoria’s take on Philly’s roast pork Italian.
The late great Josh Ozersky once said that I had forsaken my Italian-American heritage to eat my way through the Chinese food courts of Queens. He was partly—well, really mostly—right. When I find myself in need of comfort and familiarity though, there’s nothing quite like a good Italian deli.
I am a huge fan of the ladies at Leo’s Latticini in Corona and their food. They know how to make this Italian boy feel right at home. I am lucky to live so close to their shop. Lately I have been exploring the Italian delis of Astoria. My favorite so far might be Rosarios. Under the el Rosario DiMarco serves up old-school Italian-American comfort food in the form of killer Margherita pizza and more than a dozen sandwiches. (more…)
As someone who often spends every waking moment seeking out and ingesting “authentic” Chinese food—Muslim lamb chops,gui lin mei fen,Sichuan cold noodles, Shanghai xiao long bao, to name a very few—I sometimes forget where I came from. I cut my teeth on Long Island strip mall Chinese—chow fun, lo mein and General Tso’s—along with dishes with names like “happy family.” To this day I think my mother—ever the peacekeeper—ordered the stir fry of beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and scallops mixed with vegetables just because she thought the name had some sort of magical powers. Whatever domestic strife there may have been growing up, we were mostly certainly a happy family when eating Chinese food whether dim sum, Peking duck, strip mall Chinese, or one of my favorite spots of all, the subterranean den of American-Chinese splendor that is Wo Hop.
I blame monthly visits to Wo Hop with my parents and basement Thanksgiving feasts for engendering an obsession with delicious food served in basements that would reach fruition with my forays into Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall decades later.
As many of you may know Queens has been getting its fair share of media attention lately, with everyone jumping on the Lonely Planet #1 destination bandwagon and, of course, with the U.S. Open in town. Pizza maven Adam Kuban alerted me to what is my favorite bit of recent Queens media glory. It’s a U.S. Open commercial that features two Queens icons: old school slice joint John’s in Elmhurst and The Unisphere, along with plenty of tennis.
The spot makes a comparison between “New York style tennis” and New York style pizza. The pizza at John’s is as fine an example of old school New York City pizza as any. It’s a slice of glory with a crispy crust that comes from placing a perforated disk betwixt pie and pan. The best thing about John’s though might be its circa 1969 dining room complete with counter seating. I do believe I shall eat a slice or three tomorrow. John’s Pizzeria, 85-02 Grand Ave., Elmhurst, 718-457-7561
In this era of Cronuts and Ramen Burgers it’s comforting to know there are still some things that are quintessentially old-school New York City foods, like the sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side. As I learned in “Deep Cuts,” the debut video from Season 2 of One Minute Meal Films one thing that makes Katz’s pastrami and corned beef sandwiches so special is the small platoon of cutters marshaled along the front counter. (more…)
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…)
Once upon a smokier, saltier, schmaltzier time in New York City, the Jewish deli was king. And, if I am to believe the trailer for the film Deli Man, which hits New York City theaters today, “There was a delicatessen on every single corner.” (more…)
Steak and eggs steps away from Flushing’s Chinatown.
I’ve passed by it hundreds of times on the bus ride to downtown Flushing from my home base of Rego Park. “Kane’s Flushing Diner,” reads a sign looming over the brick building, which clearly predates the neighborhood’s Chinatown. “We Love Our High Class Customers,” is painted on the pavement.
Yet another sign announces, “WORLD FAMOUS STEAK & 3 EGGS $8.99.” I’m always quick to proclaim the regional Chinese culinary wonderland of Flushing as America’s best Chinatown. It’s certainly world famous for noodles, dumplings, and Dongbei cuisine, but Flushing’s not exactly known as a destination for old-school diners.
This Queens boy has a secret. A long time ago I lived in a galaxy far, far away called Brooklyn, in the lesser star system Park Slope. Back in the early 90s one of the best things about the hood—and back then it was still the hood—was the relatively short ride to then mostly Italian-American enclave of Bensonhurst. I’d stroll around 18th Ave., aka Cristofo Colombo Blvd., visit Villabate for pastries and inevitably wind up at Trunzo Bros. The old school salumeria/grocery shuttered a few years ago and I still miss it. So for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday I decided to check out Astoria’s Sorriso Italian Salumeria. (more…)