As you approach 89th Avenue traveling along Parsons Boulevard through the heart of Jamaica, you cannot help but take immediate notice of the pristine white and tinted glass façade protruding from the Italian architecture of the Moda building—formerly the Queens Family Courthouse. It is Jamaica’s newest sit-down restaurant, CityRib.
CityRib arrives on the scene as a long overdue dining addition to a popular shopping mecca, previously only catered to by Applebee’s a few blocks around the corner on Jamaica Avenue. Considering its proximity to JFK Airport and a nearby public transportation hub, a specialty restaurant of this degree has been a long-awaited addition to the area. It marks the first venture outside of Manhattan for HPH, which also owns Harry’s Steak and Harry’s Italian in the Financial District.
The 200-seat dining room boasts vaulted ceilings and exposed brick, with stenciled logos emblazoned on the walls, along with a 30-seat, industrial-themed bar, marrying classic stone etched with Roman numerals and galvanized metal. Fourteen beers are served on tap, as well as a full menu of specialty cocktails, and an intimate wine selection. But anyone coming to a place called CityRib isn’t coming for just the drinks and atmosphere.
Chef Joe Mollol has taken notable caution to create a menu suited for a broad range of palates.
“A lot of barbecue restaurants only offer starters that are smaller versions of the larger barbecue plates,” said Mollol.
The CityRib starters read as more of a southern approach to tapas, and could quite easily serve as a rewarding meal all on their own. Cheddar and garlic grits are deep fried. The deviled eggs are heavenly, with the egg tops removed, the hard-boiled whites piped full of whipped egg yolk, presented like Faberge ornaments standing on end. Bacon-jeweled smashed potatoes are wrapped in wontons and served as spring rolls blanketed with melted cheddar cheese. Each small bite is addictive.
“Low and slow is our motto,” explained the chef (referring to temperature and cooking duration), as he presented the first of the barbecue plates.
The menu boasts ribbons of carved brisket, pulled pork shoulder and Kansas City style racks of ribs. A Cajun-buttered grilled salmon with steamed spinach is one of the restaurant’s tastier non-BBQ offerings. And the price point falls well beneath those of its competitors in the city.
Side dishes include southern favorites like collard greens that sing of bacon and vinegar, a classic rendition of macaroni and cheese, moist buttery squares of corn bread and crunchy fresh green beans.
“We aren’t trying to imitate your mother’s cooking,” said Mollol, “but we have tried to showcase technique and flavors that will appeal to everyone.”
89-04 Parsons Boulevard, Jamaica
Open daily, dinner only from 4 p.m.