Tag Archives: Dining Review

K.Pacho – brand new, and absolutely outstanding

| padler@queenscourier.com


Four words can describe the dining experience at the brand new K.Pacho: stupendous, outrageous, delicious, and outstanding.

These adjectives especially describe the featured dessert, called a Mexican frozen hot chocolate. Served in an enormous margarita glass with cinnamon and homemade churros in a warm cajeta sauce and topped with whipped cream, it’s a show stopper that you must try!

But let’s get back to basics. The setting for the newly-created K.Pacho, the former Two Steak & Sushi Den, is gothic Mexican. As I walked on the red carpet and opened the glass-etched doors, the mood was set with a rack of red candles glowing. We were met by a gracious hostess and walked past the packed bar that had intimate tables nestled in the rear and sofas for seating beside the bar itself. I loved the warm, flattering lighting that set a relaxed mood.

Our table overlooked the dining room. Behind us was one of their three private rooms. Of course our first course was the classic guacamole, prepared table-side to our request. We had ours prepared with just the right combination of jalapeño, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onions and lime, adding a kick. It’s a must!

There are other starters, including a rich pumpkin soup served with cornbread croutons, toasted pepitas and cinnamon crème fraîche. Chef James McDevitt has added a unique and consistent quality and creativity to every dish.

Our main courses were equally as impressive. My favorite was the Mexi-Q for two or more (I took home enough for another meal). It is a platter of grilled Mexican shrimp, roasted chicken – soft and moist – grilled skirt steak prepared to our requested (medium rare) and tasty and nicely-spiced baby back ribs. It was accompanied with black beans, rice and grilled corn tortillas. What a combination!

There are tacos and tortas (sandwiches) served with the most delious, crspy sweet potato fries I have ever tasted.

And of course there is a full bar and wine menu, but you must try one of their margaritas, served in an enormous glass.

Opened only two weeks ago, K.Pacho it is a must go. Try it, you’ll love it!


K.Pacho Cocina & Teqila Bar

1270 Union Turnpike, New Hyde Park



Hours of Operation: Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to midnight

All major credit cards accepted

Private Party Facilities

Full bar and lounge

Handicap accessible


Magna offers an Italian feast

| vschneps@queenscourier.com

magna diningw

We all know that to get the best Chinese or Korean meal you go to Flushing, the new, bigger and better Chinatown. But hidden away on Farrington Street, just a block west of Flushing Town Hall, is Magna Ristorante, the Italian restaurant in the Marco Hotel.

It is owned by Tony Tecora, who has restaurants in Manhattan. I’ve eaten at Magna before, since it’s the perfect dining spot if you are going to see a performance at the professionally-run Flushing Town Hall. This time I went for lunch with friends and was as impressed as I was the first time.

The attractive, well-lit space with a large bar in the front serves the guests of the hotel for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The staff is professional and friendly too so it’s a pleasure to enjoy a relaxed meal.

The lunch menu is available until 3 p.m. We had the insalata di pomodorini made up of sliced and diced tomatoes with red onions in a delicate balsamic dressing. My husband had his favorite, a classic Caesar salad. It featured a bountiful topping of Parmihiano-Reggiano cheese. The real star of the salads was the insalata di pera. It was a unique combination of poached pear surrounding a large portion of arugula with crispy bacon and gorgonzola cheese crumpled on top of the greens. Delicious.

Then we went on to have meat tortellini in a chicken broth; it was a good-size portion for only $9. I had my favorite, grilled salmon, cooked exactly to my request. It was served with julienne vegetables. We were pleasantly surprised by the tender and tasty meatballs served in the traditional tomato sauce with a large portion of perfectly-cooked spaghetti.

Of course there is a bountiful dessert menu and we partook with a tartuffo, a dark chocolate crust surrounding chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Delicious! We also sampled the refreshingly-tart raspberry sorbet

Magna has private rooms available for catered events. They are open seven days a week.

Try it, you’ll love it.


Magna Ristorante

35-25 Farrington Street in Flushing (off Northern Boulevard in the Marco Hotel)



Open daily for breakfast lunch and dinner (7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.), featuring a full bar

Carry out and catering available

Hotel guests get a 10% discount
Magna Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Piccola Italia: Fresh from Forest Hills

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

In a world of dime-a-dozen Italian eateries, Piccola Italia stands out among the rest. The tiny restaurant is almost easy to miss, would it not be for the twinkling lights lining the storefront.

The interior is quaint and clean with paintings of the picturesque Italian countryside along the walls. A full bar with a wide selection greets you as you enter the Forest Hills restaurant. The tables are set beautifully, with a green and red color scheme reflecting the Italian flag. The crooning of Frank Sinatra can be heard faintly in the background.

The meal began with the Italian standard appetizer of bruschetta. It was light, topped with fresh tomatoes and a slice of buttery toasted bread. Doused with just the right amount of olive oil, the bruschetta was a wonderful amuse-bouche to commence what looked like a spectacular meal. The stuffed clams were a hit. These were topped with seasoned bread crumbs and baked in a light butter sauce. A touch of lemon brought out the flavor even more.

The chicken rollatini was warm and inviting, as it was homemade. Stuffed with gooey cheese and topped with a sweet and tangy mushroom sauce and served with a side of steamed carrots and green beans, this dish is the perfect meal for a cold winter evening.

Perhaps the star of the meal was the penne caprese, a simple yet flavorful blend of penne pasta, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. The sauce was seasoned to perfection, not too heavy and complemented spectacularly by a glass of pinot noir. Everything tasted fresh and authentic, as if from a Tuscan kitchen.

Piccola Italia is open from noon to 10 p.m. during the week and noon to 11 p.m. on weekends. There is live music on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30 until 10:30 p.m. The restaurant welcomes reservations for parties of all sizes and even allows private gatherings. Free delivery is offered to those within a three mile radius of the restaurant.

Piccola Italia
102-15 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Sun-Thurs noon – 11 p.m.
Fri & Sat noon – midnight
Free Delivery
Live Music Fridays & Saturday
Party Packages
Special Occasions
Full Bar
Reservations Accepted

Madera Cuban Grill and Steakhouse: Authentic in your mouth

| smosco@queenscourier.com

QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco. Each dish at Madera offers a genuine example of Cuban cuisine.

When done right, Cuban food is filled with flavors capable of transporting the eater to the cuisine’s land of origin. Queens is loaded with diverse restaurants, and one eatery in Long Island City continues to reach hungry residents with authenticity grilled over an open flame and served with love.

Madera Cuban Grill and Steakhouse creates an authentic visage in a popular restaurant that will leave you wondering if you are still in L.I.C. and not on vacation somewhere in Havana.

While the atmosphere that fills the dining space is an attention grabber, the real draw at Madera is undoubtedly the food – a fact which greets you the second your appetizers arrive.

Topping the list is the coconut shrimp, and Madera gives this appetizer a healthy twist by baking it instead of frying. The fresh shrimp is served at golden brown perfection with a delightfully refreshing mango-mint sauce. And don’t miss the Cuban-style grilled shrimp served atop a sweet plantain mash.

At Madera, no appetizer course is complete until you’ve tried the Montadito de Chorizo. These Spanish sausages are cut into quarter-inch slices and sautéed with onions, jalapenos and chimichurri. They are served with toasted Cuban-style bread — the perfect vehicle to drive the chorizo into your gaping maw.

You’d better still have room because it’s entrée time. The Sandwich Cubano is a requisite for a reason. Roasted pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard are as much fun as one can have between bread. But if you’d rather just focus on the meat, you can’t go wrong with Madera’s many beef offerings. The ropa veija, or stew shredded beef, is robust and flavorful, while their T-bone and shell steak has the carnivore punch to satisfy all meat eaters.

The pork dishes are the true standouts at Madera. Grandma pork chops, a marriage of pork, sherry and orange juice, plus generous amounts of garlic and herbs makes this a delicious Creole dish. And for a taste of Cubano classico, make sure you order Lechon asado con mojo criollo. This intensely succulent slow roasted pork is shredded and will melt in your mouth.

But since Cuba is an island, you mustn’t forget about Madera’s seafood. The Macadamia-crusted bass is a surprisingly accomplished dish — light, flaky, full of flavor and served with a unique citrus sour cream sauce.

Don’t forget about drinks, as Madera has the spirits to enliven your palate. A vast array of signature drinks will gladly take the edge off and leave you happily Cuban.

Madera Cuban Grill
47-29 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: 718-606-1236
Hours: Monday 4 – 10 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Takeout: YES
Reservations: YES
Full Bar
All major credit cards accepted.
Daily lunch and dinner specials.

Madera Cuban Grill and Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

La Bottega in Howard Beach

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

La Bottega may be considered a newcomer to the rivalrous row of restaurants on Cross Bay Boulevard, but it’s no rookie.

Since it opened up on the Howard Beach strip in June, La Bottega has become the neighborhood go-to spot for Italian gourmet. In fact, on a Friday evening, the restaurant is packed way before the dinner rush comes in by 5:30 p.m. — and for good reason.

La Bottega boasts an impressively large menu, with close to 70 different types of paninis and 26 salads — including avocado, roasted salmon and cajun shrimp.

Although La Bottega is a franchise, each restaurant is individually owned, giving customers the best of both worlds — a diverse and changing menu with a name they can trust.

Unique from other restaurants, this La Bottega offers a delicious selection of homemade, mouth-watering, rich and creamy gelato — made fresh every day — and irresistible sangria, courtesy of head server Fabio Urrutia. Comparable to the sangria served in Spain, Urrutia’s recipe keeps customers coming back. In fact, at least half of the tables in the packed restaurant were topped off with the delicious blend of Brandy, Merlot wine, sugar, oranges and grape pears.

As for an appetizer, to rejuvenate your taste buds, try the calamari arabiata. A dish for two, the arabiata is served with onions and hot cherry peppers over a delicious bed of fried calamari. It’s perfect for those who like spice, and for those — including this eater — who usually stay away from fiery foods.

If you’re having an understandably tough time choosing an entrée, try the restaurant’s newest dish, the tonno alla griglia — sushi-quality tuna grilled and served with a vegetable ratatouille, with a basil and homemade pesto sauce. The dish is only a little over a week old, but it has quickly become a best-selling contender.

Other crowd favorite entrees worth checking out include the ravioli d’astic con gamberoni — lobster ravioli sautéed with shrimp and crabmeat in a vodka cream sauce — and the veal gorgonzola, which comes with veal scallopini in a gorgonzola cheese sauce.

The Casella brothers — Salvatore, Jr., Gabriele and Sergio — owners of La Bottega in Howard Beach, said they stay on top of competition by putting in their own flair to the menu. Come for the sangria, for the gelato, the fine food or the friendly and attentive wait staff. The flair at La Bottega is molto bene!

La Bottega Bayside on Urbanspoon