Like many of us I’m struggling with balancing social distancing and the onset of summer fun in these strange times, but that didn’t keep me from taking a ride to Rockaway Beach. My buddy and I stayed off the sand for this trip. Instead, we paid a visit to Whit’s End, a gourmet outpost by the sea that’s been masquerading as a pizzeria, since 2013.
Whitney Aycock, a chef perhaps best known in the press for speaking and cooking his mind, turns out some amazing pies, including a salciccia e vongole that rivals the clam pizza at New Haven’s Zuppardi’s. Instead of that pie, we had a surf and turf of a different sort cobbled together from the non-pizza side of the menu.
First up was “quick ass ceviche,” made with seabass and pineapple among other things. Next, came two soft shell crabs beached atop Georgia stone ground grits bolstered by smoked cheese. The whole affair was topped with bits of salty porchetta, peanuts cooked in brown butter, and chive buds. (more…)
Despite appearances, this isn’t a veggie burger with monumental French fries.
For all the eating I’ve done at various incarnations of Whitney Aycock’s cheffed up Rockaway pizza parlor Whit’s End the only seafood I’ve ever eaten is the little neck clams on the salciccia e vongole pie. His Instagram shows him to be an avid fisherman, but I suppose the lure of pizza is sometimes stronger than that of the sea.
The other day pescatarian appetites prevailed, so I gave Whit’s “quick ass ceviche” a try. I love ceviche on a sweltering summer day and the menu’s terse description—dayboat catch, charred pineapple, lemon verbena—was intriguing. The catch of the day turned out to be black seabass or as Whit called it “knuckleheads, one of the best fish ever,” so nicknamed for the bump on the back of their skull. (more…)
My new favorite summertime ceviche features quinoa and Peruvian potatoes.
Lately I’ve been having a streak of bad ceviche luck. Not the really bad kind that involves shivering, sweating, and praying for death, but rather the kind where the fish is either chewy or has clearly been cooked using heat and and then bathed with lime juice afterwards. So that’s why I decided to pay a visit to La Cevicheria, which never disappoints, plus it has the added bonus of being just steps away from the beach in Rockaway. (more…)
Back when I was a third-tier line cook in a pub, we used to keep pea shoots in house. They were great in salads and even better to munch on in the walk-in whilst shirking my duties. I would never have thought to put the peppery shoots on a breakfast sandwich. That’s exactly what Brothers, a new concession at Rockaway Beach, has done though.
It’s tempting to think of Brothers $8 breakfast sandwich as a merely an Egg McMuffin gone green, but it’s really a locals only breakfast sandwich. Those pea shoots come from a garden on Beach 97 Street, and the spelt flour blend muffin is made by local baker Diwa.
Surf and turf Rockaway style: The wood-fired clam and sausage pie at Whit’s End.
I’m not much of a beach in the wintertime kind of guy. But when I found out that Whit’s End Rockaway was still open in the winter, I knew I’d be taking that long bus ride down Woodhaven Boulevard, not for surf and sun, but for top-notch wood-fired pizza and other goodies served up with a healthy dose of attitude.
Whitney Aycock is a chef who gives a fuck. A fuck about food from dishes like pig tenderloin with baked tomato and mortadella toast to the wood-fired “Fuckin Good Burger,” to the dozen pizzas. In fact as my buddy and I bellied up to the bar he was giving a fuck to somebody who entered his establishment reeking of weed. Once the fellow was properly chastised Aycock turned his attention to my buddy and me. (more…)
La Cevicheria’s got the best mixto in Rockaway Beach.
Few things are more refreshing and delicious on a hot summer day than a good Peruvian ceviche. Fresh fish marinated/cooked with plenty of lime served showered with red onions and with the traditional accompaniments of camote (sweet potato), cancha (toasted corn kernels), and mote (hominy corn) makes for a fine summer meal. Until last week my go-to was ceviche pescado, with ceviche mixto a distant second. Thanks to Rockaway Beach’s La Cevichería, I have a newfound respect—and craving—for ceviche mixto. (more…)
Soft shell crab amid a sea of pickles and greenery.
PLEASE NOTE MOTORBOAT AND THE BIG BANANA IS NOW CLOSED
Now that I’ve made my first visit of the year to Rockaway Beach I can’t seem to get enough. As eager as I am for the waves I’ve even more stoked to support the neighborhood’s vendors and restaurants. That’s why this week’s Sandwich Wednesday is devoted to a dynamic duo of seafood sandwiches that can be found on the boardwalk.
First up, the soft shell crab po boy ($9) from Motorboat and the Big Banana. My favorite way to eat soft shell crabs is salt baked as they are prepared at Great N.Y. Noodletown in Manhattan’s Chinatown, but when I saw the soft shell crab po boy on Motorboat’s menu I was game to try it. And I am glad I did. A meaty specimen rises like a dorsal fin from waves of pickled onions and a sea of greenery. It’s a crunchy, messy, and thoroughly satisfying sandwich. With a bag of Zapp’s potato chips ($2), it’s as fine a pre-tanning lunch as any. (more…)
That line’s for Rockway Taco not DiCosmo’s Italian Ice.
With New York City’s early summer heat in full effect I took a trip to Rockaway Beach yesterday afternoon. I haven’t been to Rockaway since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but could no longer resist the pull of cooling, restorative sea air. Plus the bus ride down Woodhaven Boulevard, which turns into Cross Bay Boulevard as it enters Howard Beach—land of Lenny’s Clam Bar and New Park Pizza—is one of the most pleasant in Queens. By the time the Q53 hits the Cross Bay Bridge with the vista of Jamaica Bay spread out on either side I feel as if I am en route to a minivacation. The trek to what some have called the Irish Riviera always ends in the same way: A stop at DiCosmo’s Italian Ice before boarding the bus back to civilization. (more…)