One of the coolest things about pizzerias in Queens is ethnic hybridization. Sometimes it takes the form of outright fusion—witness the falafel slice—and sometimes a separate cuisine coexists with the pizza. The latter is the case at Tu Arepa Pizza Café a spot that sells slices side by side with such Venezuelan specialties as cachapas and arepas.(more…)
A large pie—half bacon, half bacon and clam—from Frank Pepe.
The running joke among certain food writers is that I’ve forsaken my Italian-American heritage to sup on various and sundry heavily spiced offal platters at basement hawker centers in Queens. To some extent that’s true, but I always welcome the chance to explore my roots, which is why I was particularly psyched to go on a New Haven pizza expedition with three fellow food writers—Jeff Orlick,Dave Cook, and Rich Sanders—last month.
My last journey to the cradle of New England pizza was 10 years ago with Adam Kuban, founder of the pizza blog Slice now turned pizzaiolo in his own right. It was high time for a revisit. We rendezvoused at 9:15 a.m. in Long Island City and piled into Jeff’s car to make the trip. There had been talk of visiting Louis Lunch and even Connecticut lobster rolls, but we all decided that at least in this case, discretion was the better of gluttony. The day’s mission was to be solely devoted to pizza. (more…)
Two great tastes in one via Taipei and New York City.
Until very recently I was a pizza purist. Then I ate the falafel slice at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Flushing. This surprisingly delicious mashup of Israeli and New York City street foods can be found on Main Street in Flushing , not the Chinese portion but the Jewish neighborhood sometimes called Kew Garden Hills. Yesterday I created a decidedly non-kosher mashup in the heart of Flushing’s Chinatown. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Taiwanese chicken parm slice. (more…)
Fiamma 41 has taken the breakfast sandwich and turned it into a pizza.
La vera pizza Napoletana. Four words that conjure up my ancestral homeland, and authenticity. Not every blistered pie that’s emerging from wood burning ovens in New York City hews to the classic aesthetic these days. Today, a look at two brick oven mashups, for better or worse.
First up, the breakfast pizza at Fiamma 41 in Bayside. The ingredients of a New York City breakfast sandwich—bacon, eggs, and American cheese—have been put on a pizza along with mozzarella. It’s a novelty that seems tailor-made to satiate the late-night munchies. When it comes to breakfast mashups, I prefer my invention, the breakfast dumpling.
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.
Tu Arepa opened just in time to start selling hallacas for Christmas.
Tu Arepa Pizza Cafe stands in the grand tradition of Queens pizzerias with a sideline in ethnic eats. At Tu Arepa, that sideline is the griddled corn cakes known as arepas and other Venezuelan specialties. Come Christmastime that means hallacas ($8) and pan de jamon ($28), both yuletide favorites back home in Puerto La Cruz. A mixture of pork and chicken studded with raisins, green olives, chopped potato, and peppers fills the rustic hallaca at Tu Arepa. (In case you are wondering about that pan de jamon (ham and olive bread) all of tomorrow’s 18-inch loaves are presold, but the shop will be taking orders though the end of the year.) (more…)
It might look meatballs and marinara but it’s not.
When it comes to pizza, I am a hidebound traditionalist who hews to the classic New York City slice as served at Lucia. Glistening with orange grease and dusted with garlic powder and crushed red pepper there’s nothing better. Sure I’ve been known to enjoy blistered noveau Neapolitan pies from places like Co. and Motorino, but there’s one type of amalgam of cheese and dough for which there is little room in my pizza loving heart: the novelty slice. Buffalo chicken, barbecue, and ziti are all legitimate food groups unto themselves and have no business topping pizza. Neither, for that matter, does falafel. Yes, falafel. The falafel slice, as served at Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Queens is the best and only novelty slice I have eaten to date. (more…)
Do they know they’re standing in the epicenter of ethnic food?
I am more street food connoisseur than street art aficionado. That didn’t keep me from jumping on the Banksy bandwagon though. No, I was not fortunate enough to purchase a $60 “spray art” canvas in Central Park. When I read on Monday that the British street artist had put up a piece in Queens as part of his monthlong New York City residency I hastened to a block of 69th Street in Woodside’s Little Manila not far from the rumbling 7 train. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the crowd of camera toting street art fans had any idea they were standing at the epicenter of ethnic food in New York City.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity,” it read in Banksy’s signature stenciled script. Well, almost, that last word was cheekily in the process of being obliterated by an old-timey looking character. (That’s a quote from the film Gladiator, by the way.) Having partaken of some culture in the form of art—and Instagrammed, Tweeted and Facebooked it—I took off in search of food culture.
Dim sum at East Ocean Palace will lift your spirits if you are on jury duty.
“A food writer?” Judge Ira H. Margulis asked as I squirmed in my seat hoping not to be picked.”Well, what’s good to eat around here?” “With the exception of Dani’s House of Pizza it all stinks,” I replied. As a reward for my culinary candor both the defense attorney and the assistant district attorney deemed me fit to sit on a jury. The case was expected to take a week or less. It wound up taking 10 days.
In those 10 days I found only two things that were truly delicious. One was the dim sum at East Ocean Palace (113-09 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills), a short walk from Queens Borough Hall. If only I’d served in Manhattan, then I could have undertaken a survey of the neighborhoods Vietnamese sandwiches, Cantonese roast meats, or eaten myself silly at Xi’an Famous Foods. Alas I was serving my time in Kew Gardens, where East Ocean Palace is the only game in town for good Chinese. The dim sum—shrimp in rice noodle, flaky pork pies, and dumplings—was quite nice, but one juror can only eat so much dim sum. (more…)
Taco Bell unveiled the waffle taco—a fried waffle cradled sausage and egg—in 100 test markets today. Sadly none of these markets are in New York City. No word on the company’s plans to rollout the a pizza crepe taco pancake chili bag.
Writing for The New York Times Robert Sietsema gives a rundown of Vietnamese joints in Atlantic City, including Com Tam Ninh Kieu and its hu tieu with egg noodles and pig feet. Sign me up, Robert.
Josh Ozersky tells the tale of a trail at Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln. “I barely did any work at all, but I didn’t act like Mayor McCheese either, and tried my best not to interfere with the machinery of service,” he writes. Cutlets also makes me really hunger some stupendous sounding roast chicken. (more…)