Planning a trip to New York? Fabulous! But don’t forget there are other places to visit in New York besides Manhattan. Grab a subway map and a metro card and make your way into the outer boroughs. I was born and raised in Queens. Attended college in Long Island and lived in Brooklyn for three years. So, my connection with all of New York is something I always want to share. My recent visit to the big city brought back wonderful memories. It also made me realize that New York City is way more than Manhattan.
My love affair with pizza started from my childhood. Friday nights were always pizza nights and the possibilities of where to go or order from, were endless. I still can smell the steam of the piping hot pie that sat on my lap as my mom drove us home. Once I was equipped with a driver’s license I found myself coming home from work and pulling into the best pizza place for my late night slice. On Crossbay Blvd in Howard Beach, just minutes from where I grew up in Ozone Park, is the tastiest pizza place in the neighborhood. New Park Pizza. Once having tasted their pizza, you wont care how long it takes to get there. You might even consider moving to Queens. That’s how good it is. And outside of the locals, no one knows about it. This medium-sized pizza stand houses around 10 tables to eat at both inside and out. Almost everyone opts for eating in the glass outdoor spot. During the warmer months, the small parking lot is filled with teens and adults. Leaning on their cars scarfing down slice after slice. When finished, take a walk back in and
have a scoop of rainbow or vanilla chip Italian ice, scooped into a paper cup and licked away. A word to the wise, get the Sicilian pizza. It’s hard to describe what brilliance tastes like so I recommend you go and try it for yourself. The crust has a perfect crisp, not too soft and not too crunchy. The tomato sauce? A hint of sweetness mixed with fresh basil, seasoned flawlessly. The cheese is the best kind of gooey, never burnt, just a little brown, and always that amazing melted texture. (you know the kind, when you take a bite the cheese pulls in a string from your lips to the slice)! Outstanding, scrumptious, addictive, since 1956!
718-641-308215671 Crossbay Blvd Howard Beach, NY 11414 http://newparkpizza.com/
One of my favorite places in Queens is Austin Street! Spending most of my early 20’s in this quaint neighborhood I have many favorite spots. From 5 Burro Cafe for Mexican, to little boutiques like Oz, this bustling stretch is an awesome place to visit. Hop on the Long Island Railroad or take one of the many subway line’s to the prestigious Forest Hills. Take a walk through the elegant tree-lined roads with divine private homes staring back at you. Once your feet hit the English Tudor-styled cobblestone square, your in for a great experience. Mosey on down the bustling street and keep a look out for 70th Rd. Once there, take a right and your on a small block with about 5 restaurants stuck together. Smack in the middle is my favorite sushi place in Queens, Narita! In high school, even before I started eating sushi, I would always come here for their Japanese food (Japanese Noodles with Veggies in a White Sauce…yum)! Walk through the small hallway and you’ll find yourself in a packed restaurant. A tiny bar for patrons to wait for a table, or the long sushi bar for an immediate seat. Two Habachi tables in the midst of a regular dining room gives you many options on how
to dine. My favorite spot? Directly to the right of the hostess stand you’ll notice cubby holes and two steps. Take off your shoes, plop them in the cubby and take seat in a booth where your feet will dangle beneath. With super comfy cushions and a bottle of hot sake you’ll feel like your in the comfort of your own home. The Maki rolls here are endless! Around 3 full pages of the most interesting rolls I found so far. Every roll is the name of a girl or funky song. Definitely start with a small salad. The menu will say Ginger dressing but it’s not the average orange-colored dressing you’re used to. This dressing is a creamy white mixture that will leave you wiping your finger in the bowl to get that last bit. If your ready for the best spicy-crunchy tuna roll EVER then I suggest you make your way to Narita. Hands down, my favorite spicy tuna roll I’ve had this far! Not the traditionally diced tuna tar tar mixed with a spicy mayo. This roll has plump tuna-steak with tempura flakes delicately placed alongside and mixed in a hint of spice. It literally pops and crunches in your mouth with every bite (I suggest not sharing this roll with anyone)! The Unagi (fresh water eel) hand-roll mixed with avocado, wrapped in soy paper is so fresh and tasty that you’ll be licking your fingers when finished. Weather choosing the Karen or the Peggy roll, any choice is a fantastic one !
10708 70TH Rd
Forrest Hills, NY 11375
Further into Queens is a neighborhood called Flushing, housing Corona Ave. This is the home of the Corona Ice King! (it’s also featured in the opening credits of the show King of Queens). No, I didn’t travel to Flushing in the middle of December for ice but I did travel there for Parkside Restaurant. I have been here, in Los Angeles, for almost 3 years now and before that I was living in Brooklyn, so I guess I forgot what an authentic Queens-Italian restaurant was like. At 4pm on a Sunday afternoon this place was packed, 2 levels packed with the sun just setting. The array of pinky rings and napkins tucked in collars were endless and I immediately felt
my lips spread into a smile. Dine here merely for the experience, especially if your working on a screenplay or book about an Italian restaurant in Queens. As soon as we were seated a basket of bread (some with meat inside) and oil were place on the table. While sipping on a carafe of the house red (which was a little too sweet for me ) we order a bunch of yummy apps. The Crabmeat Avocado Salad has chunks of fresh crabmeat tossed in a light vinegar and oil dressing. Stuffed Artichokes and sautéed Portobello Mushrooms also graced my table. I have a deep love for Stuffed Artichokes and haven’t found any that tasted remotely close to my grandmother’s, plus I can’t even make them ! Ugh! So, every time there is a Stuffed Artichoke on a menu I must have it. This Artichoke’s middle was scooped out and stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs and melted parmesan cheese, sitting in a bath of oil and lemon juice. Incredible! The lemon really mixed well with the thickness of the breadcrumbs and I found myself lapping up every bit. Next, 3 entrée’s hit our table. The Red Snapper in Garlic & Oil, Rigatoni with Meatballs and Scungili and Calamari in Mariniara Sauce. The Rigatoni and Meatball dish is as authentic as your mom’s Sunday bowl of macaroni. The Red Snapper was tender and drenched in garlic and oil. I was super full at this point but managed to eat half of the snapper. Scungilli. What can I say about Scungilli that might make you want to try it. Unless doused in a flavored marinara sauce it may be hard to find a nice taste to it. Scungilli is a large sea-snail. I enjoy land snails but haven’t yet found the deliciousness that my mother seems to find in
them. I’m determined to buy them in their shells and practice a tasty recipe. Although a huge cart of Italian pastries was being wheeled around our stomachs were delightfully full.
10701 Corona Avenue
Flushing, NY 11368-3218
(718) 271-9871 http://www.parksiderestaurant.com
Heading into Williamsburg Brooklyn (my old stomping ground) later in the week, I met Angel for lunch. I waited for her in one of my favorite muffin places, The New York Muffin! Since we were meeting for lunch I couldn’t spoil my appetite with a jumbo muffin, but did enjoy a honey, green tea and sat in the window and watched everyone running around, faces wrapped, from the cold. When I finally see her pretty face coming out from the L Subway, I know it’s time do our favorite thing…eat ! We always loved the BIG salads at Greenpoint
Coffee House (which I just found out closed for good last week…ugh). But since the trip to Greenpoint was another bus ride or long, cold walk we decided to stay in Williamsburg. There are tons of delicious restaurants and cafe’s along Bedford Ave. that any place you choose to walk into is a good choice. However, just one block over is Teddy’s. On the corner of 8th and Berry St., parallel to Bedford Ave., is this delicious Bar and Grill. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Teddy’s is always packed. Two dining rooms, a large bar with a flat screen tv and a mini stage for musicians, or extra tables if there is no live music. Remembering my last dinner there with my mom before moving to the West coast, I was so very excited for the Portobello Salad with Balsamic vinaigrette and the best Stuffed Artichoke I’ve had in long time. I was bummed to realize that the menu we
were given was for lunch and my fav salad and app were only offered at dinner. Damn it ! Ok, time to find some new items to munch on! While sipping on a Tempranillo vino, I carouse the menu carefully. Angel and I decided on a fun appetizer to split and a couple of healthy salads. The Crunchy Portobello’s appetizer is about 6 meaty pieces of mushroom, battered in a crispy salt, pepper and lemon zest coating. A soy sauce and very spicy mustard were place in the center of the plate for your dipping pleasure. We dipped and dipped until each sauce was gone. Yes it was lightly fried, but at least there was a veggie in the center. With the array of salads offered it was hard to choose
from, but my eyes kept falling on the Cobb Salad. I never saw a Cobb that came with peas and corn, my 2 favorites. Add the eggs and avocado…. I was in heaven! Crisp Romain and Spinach, a dash of blue cheese and scattered olives. I opted for no chicken or bacon, keeping it light. Angel munched on The Gorgonzola Salad! Red leaf lettuce mixed with field greens and red onion, tiny grape
tomatoes and creamy Gorgonzola, refreshing vinaigrette topped with red pepper bruschetta. This bruschetta was smeared in a red pepper paste that added the best kick to any salad! Best pub grub in the ‘Burg. With our tummy’s full and Angel’s shift not yet ready to start, we scurried across the street
to the Brooklyn Ale House for 2 quick Jamesons..you know to help with the cold. Love this bar. Super simple, a slice of free cheese pizza with a cocktail for Happy Hour and peanuts whose shells you can toss right on the floor was the perfect post dinner spot.
96 Berry St
Brooklyn, NY 11211/ 718 397 9081 / View Menu
103 Berry Street, Brooklyn
After lunch I jumped on the L and headed to the city. Remembering all my transfers correctly, I couldn’t wait to get to my Prince St. stop. As I popped out of the subway I was greeted with the cold night hitting my face. I briskly walked to my old
drinking spot (and former work place) to find it hadn’t changed a bit. On the corner of West Houston and Sullivan sits a cozy, convenient bar welcoming all that walks through its door. XR Bar! As I entered, my old boss and owner was sitting at the bar and once I was recognized I was warmly greeted. After a few cocktails to warm up I headed back out to make my way to dinner. A few blocks over on Bedford and Downing is an amazing restaurant called Ditch Plains. Breakfast, lunch or dinner this places satisfies. They call themselves the New York style Fish Shack. Once inside your in a small dark wooded room filled with large
booths, some tables and chairs, equipped with a full bar and extensive wine list. I haven’t had breakfast there since last year at
Christmas time, but I know they make a mean Omelette served with a delicious Frisee salad on the side. The hash browns are super authentic: a shredded pile of potatoes instead of those cubed potatoes most places try to pass off as “hash browns”. Any restaurant with Silver Dollar Pancakes on the menu get’s an A+ from me! As for dinner? A must! A great date spot, whether its your first or 10th. Dark and romantic, an easy-going menu and the prices aren’t crazy either. Make sure to make a reservation, this place gets lot’s of attention. Start by ordering the Oyster Shooters, with or without vodka. A shot glass filled with a plump raw oyster, tangy-spiced tomato juice and a shot of vodka! Seriously, it’s amazing. A chalk board filed with nightly specials hangs on the back wall with options such as Salmon, Snapper and a Soup-of-the-Day. The New England clam chowder is to die for, packed with clams, potatoes and bacon swimming in a thick, creamy sauce. Oyster crackers are seated at every table for your convenience. If you see that a dish comes with sweet potatoes you’re in luck. When a sweet potato is cooked long enough the amount of natural flavor that comes out is unbelievable! I’m pretty sure Ditch adds a splash of brown sugar to the caramelized onions that’s mixed with the sweet potatoes which makes them that much tastier. I’m assuming you like mac and cheese, if you don’t that makes me curious about you. The Ditch Dog=Mac and Cheese smothering a hot dog that’s laying beneath it! What?! I
know! Maybe not a choice good for a first date if you want a kiss at the end but a definite must if you brunching with your friends. The Ditch Plains Lobster Roll served with Sweet Potato Chips, priced at $29, is outrageous ! Chopped , tender lobster mixed with spices and mayo slathered on top of a hot dog bun is so good that ordering it for breakfast is not a bad idea. I noticed they added Tacos (fish, steak and smoked tofu) to the menu that I can’t wait to try next time I’m in New York! If you find yourself in SoHo you have to stop by !
29 Bedford [at Downing Street] ny 10014
Sushi and a show with Karen is a must! It wouldn’t be a New York
trip without this day. After a day of Bliss Spa and shopping, Karen and I headed to our favorite sushi spot..Azuki on Park Avenue South. A free glass of vino and bottle of hot sake with the purchase of any entrée. Ahh, New York sushi at it’s best. Funky rolls mixed with fun sauces sipping a cup of hot sake on a freezing cold night. Once done we headed back on the cold streets of New York to midtown to see a fabulously cast play by the talented Nora Ephron. Love, Life and What I Wore, much like the book, uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell funny
and heart-felt stories woman can relate to. The cast of 5 rotates every four weeks and its fabulous ! The best trip to the Westside Theater ever !
Azuki – Park Ave South New York, NY 10003…(212) 228-3611 239
The dreaded night came where it was my last supper before getting on a plane. Wanting to have one more authentic Italian Queens meal, I opted to stay in my neighborhood where my mom lives, Howard Beach. As soon as you enter the neighborhood Howard Beach, Matteo’s Restaurant greets you. With over 9 locations Matteo’s has exquisite service, a beautiful decor and outstanding family style dining. As we enter the restaurant we were greeted by a Joe Pesci look-a-like and I couldn’t help but smile. We were seated under a flat screen t.v. that had the Food Network on (I’m not sure if I’m a fan of this new trend but I’ve noticed restaurants having the Food Network on in Los Angeles and in new York). While tearing my gaze away from the television I ordered a bottle on vino and had no choice to but to eat a huge slab of soft, warm bread, spreading butter all over. The menu is family style and 2 choices are given : Half order / Whole order. When dining with Karen and Tony there is no
choice, it’s always a whole order. We started with the Fresh Mozzarella and Red Pepper app and , of course, a Stuffed Artichoke. As my search still goes on for the best stuffed artichoke I have to say this is the best one I’ve had n a long
time. No gimmicky melted cheese on top or having just the center stuffed, every leaf was touched with the deliciousness of toasted bread crumbs mixed with herbs. Next a delicate Seafood Salad was served. I say delicate because raw sea foods can be paired with over the top dressings and oils. This perfect lemony light dressing complimented the calamari and fresh shrimp perfectly, I had to stop myself from eating before I got too full. It may look weird when your reading a menu and see the word “burnt” but believe me this is how you want your vegetables when dining at Matteo’s. The other option is a garlic and oil bath but having burnt cauliflower and burnt string beans is ever so tasty. I may be a bit biased because I usually ask for my toast burnt when I go out for breakfast and I definitely like the crispest parts of foods but seriously try something different, go burnt. The Dijon Salmon I opted for dinner came with one my favorite veggies, broccoli. Swimming in a Dijon sauce I was wary that it be over the top in terms of flavor and over cooked. This dish was spectacular! I wish I was more hungry by the time it arrived but I definitely did the best I can. I found that I love soaking the tree tops of broccoli in a creamy Dijon sauce. Not being able to fit dessert into my body by the end of the meal I opted for a nice cappuccino.
155-10 Crossbay Blvd.
Howard Beach , NY 11414
phone 718.322.2606 Matteo’s Family Style Ristorante Italiano & Catering
Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn are beacons for delicious cuisine. For you Manhattanites , take a chance, travel to a certain part of Queens you would never had ventured to, and not the ‘cool up and coming’ part, like Long Island City. Go to Howard Beach or Bayside, get lost , find your way again. People tend to think they need to leave the country to have an amazing food experience. You don’t! Just venture out of your comfort zone and see where your taste buds will take you. There are plenty of more places that didn’t I hit in up, since I was only home for 10 days. Go find them ! Make sure you tell me where they are….