08/31/16 1:47pm
MRCRISPY

Mr. Crispy, Astoria’s answer to the croque monsieur.

Culinary hyperbole is as much an occupational hazard as it is a way of life these days. In the race for web traffic, social media likes, and a desire to stand out everything becomes the best. The sense of discovery and wonder that drives me as a food writer is all too often lost in a sea of superlatives. So l when my dear friend and Astoria denizen Connie Murray started raving about a certain grilled cheese being the best, I took it with a grain of gruyere. After all how could good can a grilled cheese be?

I’d been to Astoria Bier & Cheese before. While the grilled cheese I tried was tasty it left my appetite for killer content unsated. “You know I think I’ve had this before,” I said to Connie of the Mr. Crispy ($11) as we munched on some excellent house pickles. (more…)

08/10/16 2:02pm
russduaghters

An ice cream sandwich truly worthy of the Lower East Side.

I have to say that I didn’t really grow up eating chocolate babka. In all likelihood I have probably partaken of the sweet, dense Jewish cake no more than two or three times. And one of those times was at Russ & Daughters Cafe in the form of ice cream sandwich. That’s right, a chocolate babka ice cream sandwich filled with chocolate babka ice cream no less.

Like many things at the Lower East Side appetizing shop, this newfangled treat comes wrapped in wax paper bearing the famous fish logo. There’s no sturgeon, sable, or nova inside though. Instead there’s a marbleized mashup of an ice cream sandwich. For the record it, makes a fine dessert after some new catch Holland herring.

Russ & Daughters Cafe, 127 Orchard St., 212-475-4881

06/22/16 10:22am
Giuseppe

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…)

06/08/16 10:11am
brothersegg

How green was my breakfast.

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.

(more…)

05/18/16 1:35pm
LOLLOBSTER

Photo: B.A. Van Sise

With very few exceptions—notably the Tortas Puma—I adhere to  the old adage, “Never eat anything bigger than your head.” Now thanks to my good friend photojournalist B.A. Van Sise, I might just have to make another exception: the LOL Hot Lobster Roll served at Abbot’s Lobster in the Rough in Noank, Conn.

For a decade Van Sise made do with the quarter pound lobster roll. “Now that my hunger hole has been broken I can’t imagine how people could possibly survive on so little,” Van Sise said. (more…)

05/04/16 5:27pm
Way better than the tuna salad of my childhood.

Way better than the tuna salad of my childhood.

I can’t recall ever writing a Sandwich Wednesday column about a tuna salad sandwich. Heck I can’t even recall eating one in the past decade. Served on white bread with bits of crunchy celery and onion it was a lunch box staple growing up. Now I’ve found one that’s so good I’ve eaten it twice in the past two weeks. Roast n Co can call it the Mediterranean Tuna Sandwich, but after talking with the chef, I now know it’s a Tunisian tuna salad sandwich.

Served on a baguette the mixture of tuna, hardboiled eggs, salty black olives, tomatoes, greens, and spicy harissa it eats like a salad Nicoise sandwich. It makes for a lovely light lunch or a great post-workout repast.

“It’s a common snack in the market in Tunisia,” the chef said. Seeing me in my gym clothes he had at first offered me a Bulldozer smoothie made with peanut butter, banana, and milk. I’m glad I declined and took my tastebuds to Tunisia instead.

Roast n Co, 100-12 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills, 718-263-6000 

03/30/16 9:34am
Sweet, savory, and spicy; it's my new favorite Thai toast.

Sweet, savory, and spicy; it’s my new favorite Thai toast.

In the Little Bangkok of Elmhurst, Queens, Thai toast is often an elaborate affair laden with fruit, ice cream, and syrup. I’ve long wondered whether there was a more savory version, one that hewed to more conventional Thai flavors. Turns out there is. It exists in the form of a chili jam and pork floss sandwich being served at Pata Cafe.

Sweet, spicy, salty and porky—it’s my kind of sandwich. It made for a perfect dessert after a rather epic Indian-Chinese meal. Pata Cafe is big among the local schoolchildren most of whom order French fries and hot dogs. If Pata Cafe was around when I was a kid you can bet I’d be ordering this savory-sweet-spicy sandwich. As far as this farang’s concerned, it’s a real after-school special.

Pata Cafe56-14 Van Horn St., Elmhurst, 347-469-7142

03/16/16 2:06pm
ShakeChicken

The Chick’n Shack is a worthy alternative to Shake Shack’s hamburgers.

“Really? That’s like going to Peter Luger and getting the salmon,” my pal Robbie told me when I said I was excited to try the chicken sandwich at the newish Shake Shack in the Queens Center. Robbie is a big, big fan of their burgers. Not to say that I’m not, but I seem to be on a fried chicken sandwich kick of late.

As I waited on line a young couple in front of me bantered about the name of the sandwich “Chick’n Shack.” Soon it was time for me to fork over $6.29 for a cage-free buttermilk marinated fried chicken sandwich. As I waited for my sandwich I noticed somebody with a bottle of Louisiana brand hot sauce and immediately grabbed some to doctor up my bird. Shortly thereafter the Shake Shack pager began to vibrate and I picked up my order. (more…)

03/09/16 12:54pm
ArchElectric

The Arch Electric dwarfs Ben’s overstuffed pastrami sandwich.

“Does anybody ever order these?” I asked the waitress at my local deli as I pointed to the list of novelty sandwiches with names like Dr. Ruth Westheimer (brisket of beef, turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing) and the New York Newsday (salami, tongue, corned beef, and cole slaw). “Sure, all the time,” she said. By local deli I refer not to a bodega trafficking in bacon and cheese sandwiches but Ben’s Best, a bona fide Jewish deli with a 70-year history lovingly maintained by Jay Parker and his crew.

“Okay, I’ll have the Arch Electric,” I said ordering a $20.95 behemoth consisting of Chinese mustard, rolled beef, corned beef, sweet red pepper, cole slaw, and Russian dressing (Tums available on request).” In my 15 years of eating at Ben’s Best my go to order has been a pastrami on rye, so I was curious to switch it up a bit with this sandwich named for an L.I.C. based electrical contractor. Corned beef and rolled beef were a definite change of deli pace, Chinese hot mustard not so much, though I can’t say I’d ever had it in a Jewish deli.  (more…)

02/10/16 11:23am
jimmys

Crispy duck goes Vietnamese thanks to Tito Kings.

The bánh mì, a study in textures—cool pickled veggies, crunchy bread, and caramelized pork—and flavors—savory roast meats and charcuterie, and perhaps pate; hot peppers; and Asian mayo—is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. So much so that a lifetime ago when I was a line cook at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, I took it upon myself to add it to the menu while the chef was on vacation. We had charcuterie, pickles, pork, fish sauce, and chilies in house, so I figured why not run it as a special. Chef was not pleased with my addition of what I called the Banh-Jimmy to his menu. (more…)