Tag Archives: Dining

Kati Allo offers classic Greek cuisine


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alex DiBlasi

After 13 years in Bayside, Kati Allo is the neighborhood go-to for classic Greek cuisine just like your yiayia used to make. The quiet atmosphere lends itself to a romantic date night or even just a special occasion out with family. Takeout and delivery options give locals the chance to enjoy good Greek in the comfort of their own homes. Whatever the event, Kati Allo is the perfect place for a Greek feast.

The tiny tavern’s menu offers everything from freshly caught seafood to mouthwatering gyros to incredible, authentic appetizers. We started our culinary tour with the haloumi – a white sheep’s milk cheese, grilled with lemon wedges. The thick slices of tangy cheese were complemented by the tart lemon and the char of the grill. We sampled the loukaniko, a Greek-style pork and lamb sausage, spiced with orange zest oregano and wine and completely unlike anything we’d ever tasted.

For our first entrée, we selected the broiled filet of sole — a simple recipe of fresh fish baked with lemon and olive oil and a well-deserved nod to the Mediterranean staple of quintessentially-effortless seafood dishes. The broiler adds the right amount of crisp to the top of the fish while underneath, the flaky, delicate meat awaits. Kati Allo offers an arsenal of souvlaki options as well, including pork doner, lamb and beef. We also ordered a combination entrée of the grilled chicken – marinated in lemon and olive oil – and the roast pork doner. The well-seasoned heaps of tender pork were perfectly scooped into crispy pita bread and topped with a touch of homemade tzatziki. The hot-off-the-grill chicken was artfully cooked and filling – just like great Greek poultry dishes should be.

While we sadly didn’t save room for dessert, Kati Allo offers sweet options like forever faithful Baklava and Galactobouriko – a custard-filled phylo dough pastry topped with light honey syrup.

Kati Allo’s owner said the eatery is in the process of undergoing a few menu changes to highlight the new season and some competition that’s recently entered the neighborhood. We think they’re perfect just the way they are.

Testaccio Ristorante Italiano: Roman cuisine comes to Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Almost everything is homemade at Testaccio Ristorante Italiano in Long Island City.

As soon as you sit down, the staff is welcoming with a bottle of Pellegrino and a basket of bread. The rustic bread, homemade focaccia baked by the restaurant’s pizza maker, is served warm, the better to mop up fragrant olive oil.

For a good brunch dish, try the Uova Soffici al Pesto, or pesto poached eggs. The pesto sauce that pours over the perfectly cooked eggs and onto the focaccia croutons is of just the right texture and all its components have just the right flavoring. Made with fresh basil, it carries small hints of garlic and walnut. The oozing yolk from the poached eggs adds to the refreshing taste and texture.

The sliced potatoes are pan-fried and a potato-lover’s dream. They give you a cup of ketchup, but it’s an option at best. These potatoes have enough going for them as is. On the outside, they’re just crispy enough that they won’t flop on your fork. But at the center, they give almost a feeling of the home cooked potatoes that dad or mom would make on Sundays. You don’t need to put any salt on them or worry that they’re too greasy.

The last component, and a personal favorite, are thick slices of prosciutto di Parma, packed with seasoning and flavor. The best way to really enjoy this is a cut piece with a few leaves of fresh spinach that serves as the bed for the entire meal.

The large brunch menu at this Roman-style Italian restaurant also includes creative, homemade pizzas, pastas, appetizers and main courses of veal, fish, chicken and beef. For those with simpler appetites, there is also a list of panini. There are also substantial lunch and dinner menus and a number of daily specials.

Overall, Testaccio Ristorante is a great place for a weekend meal whether with friends or stopping in for a solitary dish to clear one’s head and at a reasonable price.

Testaccio Ristorante Italiano

47-30 Vernon Boulevard LIC

www.testacciony.com

Hours:

Sunday to Thursday noon to 11 p.m.

Friday & Saturday noon to midnight

Saturday and Sunday brunch

Call for reservations 718-937-2900

All major credit cards accepted

Free delivery

Weekday special: free Roman apperitivo from 4 to 8 p.m.

Shopping and dining in Flushing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Sky View Centerw

BY MELISSA MOTT

The diversity of food in Flushing brings credibility to one of its many nicknames: “The Food Capital of Queens.”

According to Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, the high population density area, especially downtown, is “definitely known for the food.”

“We have a new name,” he said, “food, fun and Flushing.”

Hungry diners — including celebrities and tourists from all over — travel far and wide to visit Flushing’s award-winning Joe’s Shanghai at 136-21 37th Avenue. The restaurant, with two other locations in the city, is widely recognized for its New York favorite, soup dumplings.

The downtown neighborhood also boasts a number of diverse and reasonably priced restaurants, Yu said, and Main Street is a hub of restaurants and shops.

Flushing also has the second biggest Chinatown throughout the boroughs, according to Yu.

“We have Chinese supermarkets, which have farmers’ markets and regular sections [full of] fresh produce, fish and Asian products,” he said. “It’s fun to shop in Flushing.”

However, there’s more to Flushing than unique food experiences, Yu said. The neighborhood offers a variety of stores to meet any shopper’s needs at very reasonable prices.

Shoppers can find Macy’s on Main Street, and only a short distance away — at 40-24 College Point Boulevard — Sky View Center stands as the newly built regional mall. The area’s largest mixed-use, multi-level shopping destination hosts stores such as Target, Old Navy and Bed Bath and Beyond.

“Not many people know it, but this is the place to be,” Yu said. “We’re the diamond in the rough. Not everyone knows how good we are, but the people who do won’t go anywhere else.”

Baby Ray’s: Classic comfort food


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

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Baby Ray’s is a quaint, old-fashioned establishment popular with locals that serves homemade classics. The dining area at Baby Ray’s is divided in two, with a bar area which becomes busy at night with locals and sports enthusiasts. The dining room is covered in wood and classic floral prints, complete with a fireplace and antique décor.

Trapped in time, this hidden culinary gem believes in consistency and comfort – granting customers the opportunity to escape the busy streets of Queens and enjoy quality food and a warm atmosphere.

Begin your meal with an appetizer. Choose from the baked clams or wings baked with blue cheese and a zesty hot sauce. Far from your average bar joint, Baby Ray’s combines traditional pub classics with a truly distinctive setting and fusion of classic American dishes that keep customers coming back weekly.

Baby Ray’s focuses on American classics such ribs slathered in tangy BBQ sauce or the porterhouse for two.

Utilizing only a handful of ingredients, and a genuine admiration for classic American cuisine, the chef aims for consistency and authenticity. The steak is tender, draped in sautéed onions and flavorful mushrooms. On the side, my guest and I sampled the macaroni and cheese — delicious comfort food. If you’re not much of a meat eater, sample the fish served with vegetables and mashed potatoes.

The locals know that dessert is just as important as the meal, especially with the chocolate mousse cake served up at this cozy eatery. The chef describes the dessert as his “favorite.” Layers of chocolate mousse, served with whipped cream and hot coffee are the perfect way to end a meal.

Tucked away in College Point, Baby Ray’s stands alone in a neighborhood flooded with pizzerias and bakeries.

BABY RAY’S

13-46 127th Street, College Point

917-563-53528

Hours: Tue – Thu noon, to 10 p.m.; Fri., Sat, noon to 11 p.m.

Parking: Valet on weekends

Bourbon Street: Like eating in the Big Easy


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Situated a quick walk away from the Bayside LIRR station, Bourbon Street has everything. Though located in northeast Queens,it gives one a feel of a bar and eatery in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

At the well-stocked bar, one can enjoy a drink, watch a game on one of the many TVs and enjoy the lively, well-spirited atmosphere. Separated by a small glass wall, Bourbon Street contains one of the coziest dining rooms in Bayside.

As one waiter noted, anything on the menu is great, and he is not joking. The menu is filled with some of the most unique and eye-catching items, including an assortment of appetizers that take you out of Queens and into the Big Easy.

For a hearty starter, he recommended the blackened chicken nachos. The towering platter is packed with flavor. Atop the bed of crisp nachos is a layer of lettuce, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, mouth watering, seasoned chicken and cool, soothing guacamole. The chicken was blackened and spiced to perfection. When scooped up with a jalapeno, some lettuce and warm nacho cheese, your taste buds will not know what hit them.

To give these super-loaded chips a little kick, the Bourbon Street hot sauce spices things up a bit.

If you’re looking for a heart-healthy lunch like this reporter, there’s the Bourbon Street’s turkey burger. Topped with grilled peppers, it’s an explosion of flavors that will leave you craving more. Served with French fries and coleslaw, this lunch is ideal if you’re looking for something warm and filling on a cool fall day.

Given the option for a cheese for the burger, opt for the Swiss, which not only holds the peppers together, but adds an extra burst of flavor to this one-of-a-kind burger.

Veslo’s captivating Croatian cuisine


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alex DiBlasi

Touting itself as one of the tri-state area’s only truly authentic Croatian restaurants, Veslo brings Adriatic classics, reminiscent of grandmother’s kitchen, to modern times. While many Croatian restaurants mix in touches of Greek or Italian cuisine – attempts to appeal to a broader audience – Veslo’s dishes keep with tradition and remain strictly Croatian.

The interior is rustic with coastal elements complete with a vintage-oar-decked ceiling and fishing net embellishments. The fully-stocked bar offers its own separate menu, key for those looking to snack while they sip.

The grilled octopus – the spot’s most popular item – is served incredibly fresh with the perfect amount of char. A simple dish of tender tentacles in olive oil, garlic and lemon is the epitome of an Adriatic amuse-bouche. The stuffed mushrooms, bursting with a traditional Croatian meat mixture with celery and carrots, are topped with melted Parmesan cheese in a saffron cream sauce. With the saffron adding just the right amount of intrigue, the rich dish was easily a “must-have.”

A traditional Croatian meal, Brodetto a la Adriatico, showcases the region’s food forte of treats from the sea. Combining shrimp, sea bass, scallops, mussels and clams in a tomato and white wine broth over pasta, the flavorful dish is known for its popularity in the coastal Croatian region of Dalmatia. The restaurant’s head chef said the dish was exactly like his mother used to make.

For diners with a major meat craving, Veslo offers a mixed grill platter, outfitted with filet mignon, lamb chops, pork skewers and veal cutlets. Each perfect cut is better than the next and the platter comes adorned with a red pepper, eggplant and tomato dipping sauce.

For dessert, Veslo offers a smattering of Dalmatian-style crepes filled with Nutella, fruit marmalade and cognac custard. The phenomenal blueberry strudel, made with fresh fruit and ricotta cheese, might be one of the best things we’ve ever eaten.

 

Veslo’s
32-11 Broadway, Astoria
718-728-0549

Vetro: Superior quality all around


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

photo

For a truly elegant dining experience, visit Vetro of Howard Beach. Exceptional service, an enormous menu, vintage wines and champagnes – all come together in a chic, modern atmosphere on the water.

Our waiter, Lance, was much more than a server, acting as a culinary “tour guide” through the menu that has established Vetro as the talk of the town.

Begin your meal with a glass of red wine, signature to the authentic Italian experience. The sangiovese is rich and full bodied. If you’re in the mood for white, sample the sauvignon blanc: citrusy, light, and pleasantly nutty. Complement your beverage with an assortment of appetizers, including the grilled octopus, which is delicately flavored with garlic, parsley, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you’re searching for something different, order the sushi Italiano – complete with raw sushi-grade tuna wrapped in layers of prosciutto, celery and white truffle oil.

In Italy, people frequently begin their meal with “primi piatti,” a small serving of pasta, anything from spaghetti to cavatelli. At Vetro, this tradition is upheld through the surplus of pasta dishes, available in appetizer portions and with various sauces. My guest and I sampled the lobster ravioli DeGeorgio, a signature dish from Chef DeGeorgio –fresh Maine lobster, draped in rich cognac and heavy cream, truly delicious. If you’re searching for something modest, order the Russo’s spaghetti garlic & oil – spaghetti dressed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, Gaeta olives and toasted walnuts: a charming rendition of “poor man’s pasta.”

The entrees at Vetro are perfectly portioned while successful at incorporating new and inventive concepts into classic Italian dishes. In the mood for fish? Order the Chilean sea bass served with plum tomatoes, garlic, shallots, seasoned breadcrumbs and white wine. If you’re a meat eater, the bistecca is for you: aged Sterling silver shell steak doused in a delicious beef broth with burro di Parma, a rich Italian butter.

Painted in shades of deep red and warm gold, and featuring brilliant tableware, rich drapery and light fixtures, the décor upholds a high standard of sophistication. While enjoying the atmosphere, order an espresso and the dessert sampler. The crème brulee was flambéed at our table, a divine combination of custard crème topped with caramelized sugar. My guest sampled the Opera Trio – layered vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut mousse over devils food sponge, glazed with milk chocolate: decadent, flavorful, sweet.

Vetro is the perfect place to spend a night with friends or your loved one- excellent food, a hospitable, informed wait staff and chic atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to host your next event or an innovative culinary adventure, visit Vetro of Howard Beach…you won’t be disappointed.

Vetro by Russo’s on the Bay

164-49 Cross Bay Boulevard

Howard Beach, New York 11414-3444

Tel: 718-843-8387

info@vetronyc.com

Hours:

Monday – Saturday noon – 11 p.m.

Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Parking: Private lot, valet

Attire: Dressy

 

Queens Restaurant Week a boon for local biz


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Bourbon Street

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week, where local eateries offer special menu deals, just wrapped up.

Running this year from October 8 to 11 and 15 to 18, the event is not just a celebration of the borough’s food; it is also a way for restaurants to bring in new customers.

It’s because of those new faces that many restaurants continue to take part in Queens Restaurant Week and new ones join the list, which grew to over 100 participants this year.

“They think it’s a good opportunity to reach out to the surrounding community and beyond, and connect to their customers, especially a customer that might not have considered them,” said Laura Altimari of Components of Fine Taste.

Her company does marketing and advertising for two Queens Restaurant Week participants: Bourbon Street in Bayside and Austin’s Steak and Ale House in Kew Gardens.

Both restaurants have been taking part in the promotion since it started.

Each year, said Altimari, the potential for repeat customers grows as Queens Restaurant Week gains popularity.

“They’ve definitely seen an increase from when it first began to now,” she said.

“It’s a good deal and we’re trying to attract a lot of new customers, said Bruno Dauti, manager of Mexican restaurant Mojave.

This year was the first time the Astoria dining establishment took part in Queens Restaurant Week.

The event’s suggested three-course prix-fixe menu price was $25, not including tax and tip, but restaurants were free to create their own specials.

Mojave offered an appetizer, entrée and a Sangrita cocktail for $25. Normally a customer would pay $35 for that meal, said Dauti.

He saw several new customers during Queens Restaurant Week and is hopeful that they’ll return.

“They also checked the regular menu. I was very surprised actually,” he said.

At Tony Roma’s in Bayside, staff saw about a 10 percent increase in customers, some of which were new faces.

“[Queens Restaurant Week] gives us a chance to give back to the community, to the local guests who come in and dine with us,” said general manager James Connaughton.

In this economy, he said, the customers “still manage to support us and keep doors open.”

More restaurants sign up for final days of Queens Restaurant Week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

Queens Restaurant Week kicks off its second week and will through October 18.  Many of the restaurant involved offer a special prix-fixe menus at $25 for a three-course meal.  The week allowed residents to chance to try the wide array of cuisines the borough has to offer; from Italian to Indian, Croatian to Cajun and many more.

Check out the map and list of participating restaurants below. You can search by restaurant name, neighborhood, cuisine or special.

 

Tapas for everyone


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

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At Saffron, a restaurant/tapas bar in Howard Beach, the menu focuses on traditional Spanish dishes and homemade delicacies while incorporating a surplus of heart-healthy ingredients. Traditional Spanish omlettes, homemade paella, a beautiful assortment of olives and cheeses – this establishment has a little bit of everything.

The menu at Saffron highlights traditional Spanish tapas – including seafood, veggies and meats. Tapas, or small dishes, are a staple of Spanish cuisine often served with aged wines and eaten with family or friends. At Saffron, something for everyone – oysters, sautéed shrimp, cornmeal crusted calamari, bacon wrapped scallops, lamb kabobs, olive tapenade – the list is never ending.

Order a bottle of wine, choose some tapas, and enjoy this authentic culinary experience that will transform the average Joe into a modern-day food connoisseur. If you’re in the mood for seafood, order the bacon wrapped scallions, served with a wild mushroom risotto. In the mood for something less traditional? Try the lamb kabobs served with tzaziki, cucumber and flatbread.

Typical tapas plates are available on the menu, such as the spinach and artichoke dip, quesadillas, and plato de Quesos (a divine assortment of cheeses). The infamous “Plato de Chacuteria” is a customer favorite, which combines meats, marinated olives and toasted crostini.

In addition to the tapas, Saffron offers a “build your own entrée” option – in which customers select one main course, one starch and one sauce. Choose from: steak, baby rack of lamb, lobster, red snapper, pan seared salmon, chicken or fresh cut pork chops. Another option for dinner is the paella – choose from seafood, meat, or vegetarian.

Make sure to order the house sangria which has become the “talk of the town” – choose from the Wildberry Red (a beautiful assortment of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries all immersed in berry vodka and red wine) or the White Peach (Absolut Peach, peach schnapps, white wine, peach nectar, peaches, oranges and apples). An impressive cocktail menu is available in addition to beer, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Saffron is the perfect “after work” spot to grab a bite and have a glass of wine. Classic ambiance, a surplus of culinary options and an impressive drink menu prove for an unrivaled dining experience. Management at Saffron offers half price bottles of wine Sunday to Thursday, and a killer lunch menu. Try the parpadelle pasta with braised short ribs, pepper crusted pork loin or chimichurri steak. The prix fixe lunch menu offers restaurant-goers a four course meal for under $30 – complete with salad, tapas, entrée and dessert.

If you’ve been searching for an innovative dining experience, Saffron is the answer. Good food, helpful staff and homemade infused cocktails – Saffron in Howard Beach has stepped outside the box and created a dining experience that will transform “first-timers” into regulars.

Saffron Restaurant and Tapas Bar
161-50 Cross Bay Boulevard
Howard Beach, NY 11414
Phone: 347-392-4152
Email: saffronrest@aol.com
Saffronrestaurantnewyork.com

Hours:

Mondays: CLOSED
Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

 

Corner Bistro keeps it classic


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alex DiBlasi

New York burger connoisseurs know Corner Bistro – the West Village bar with the reputation for nearly half a century of beef and beer bliss. The downtown diner draws massive lines, filled with locals and tourists alike, seven days a week. In 2011, the Daily News named the spot’s cheeseburger the best in the city — an award that isn’t handed out to just any old burger joint.

In the fall of last year, the famed restaurant with the misleadingly upscale name opened a second location, smack in the middle of Long Island City. While the sister joint definitely echoes the original with insanely good burgers and a fully-stocked roster of brews, the Queens version includes dishes for a variety of diners.

Alongside the famous Bistro Burger – a juicy 8 ounce patty topped with melted American cheese and a sinful amount of crispy bacon – are new favorites, including a chicken salad with chunks of grilled chicken atop mixed greens with Swiss cheese, celery and tomatoes and a simple, gooey bacon-laden grilled cheese. The staff at Corner Bistro said the expanded menu is an attempt to appeal to its new family-friendly neighborhood. We think they hit it out of the ball park.

Another well-known dish – Corner Bistro’s homemade chili – is a hearty, tangy bowl bursting with fresh ground beef and topped with diced onions and cheese, just like mom used to make on game day. The bar is usually teeming with sports fans, hunkered down with a pint of whatever’s on tap with their eyes glued to one of the bar’s televisions. We’ll be there next Sunday with a piping bowl of chili and an icy pint.

If you’re not into the bar scene or you come toting a few hungry tots, Corner Bistro offers privacy in the confines of comfy booths. Regardless, get ready for one of the tastiest and delightfully messy burgers around.

Like eating with ‘Family’


| padler@queenscourier.com

Photo by Pearl Adler

After decades of serving the community in Forest Hills, The Family Restaurant has upheld its standards of quality and service.

I think they chose the name because they are so family friendly, but the day I was there for lunch several tables were filled with business people too. As you enter the spacious, attractive restaurant you are greeted by a pizza “bar” offering a dozen different toppings for the thin crust pizzas. It is a great beginning.

Then as you walk further into the dining rooms you find walls filled with oil paintings. You can also take advantage of the private room, perfect for those special occasions. The Family Restaurant offers a specially- priced four-course meal including wine or beer from $29 for parties.

There is also a bar with a well stocked choice of wine by the bottle or the glass.

They offer lunch specials beginning at only $7.95 and an early bird special from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday with four courses for only $16.95. It’s cheaper to go to The Family Restaurant than cook at home!

Since I’m making lunch my biggest meal, like the Europeans do, we began with the appetizer combo plate, which included a perfectly cooked appetizer of fried oysters and lightly battered fried artichokes. They were the best I’ve had. There was also crispy fried zucchini that is full flavored and not sopping in oil.

We shared a small portion of pasta filetto di pomodoro cooked al dente. We followed that with a garden salad of crisp lettuce and juicy, ripe, deep red tomatoes. You name the dressing, they have it.

For our main course we chose tilapia and red snapper francese. The knockout broccoli with garlic was so good we asked for seconds! There are multiple fish and pasta choices and of course veal, steak, pork and chicken cooked anyway you want.

Peter, maitre d’ and decade long manager, walked among the tables to make sure everything was as the customer wanted. He made us all feel special.

No meal is complete without dessert and since we couldn’t make up our minds we had small slices of rum cake, homemade cannoli, chocolate mousse cake and not to be ignored, a mouth watering tartufo surrounded by a mound of whipped cream. It doesn’t get better than this.

Try The Family Restaurant for lunch or dinner for a delightful experience of great food. If you can’t be there, they have free local delivery.

Ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week offers good food, great deals


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

Queens residents will be able to sample a slew of borough restaurants — and it won’t take a bite out of their budget.

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week kicks off next week with many eateries offering prix-fixe menus at $25 for a three-course meal. The focus is on restaurants in the borough that are widely ignored during NYC Restaurant Week.

“Sure, you can get great meals all over the city, but if you want the real thing, the real flavors, the real country you come out to Roosevelt Avenue, or Astoria Boulevard or Jamaica, there’s great places all over,” said Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.

That diversity was highlighted at the kickoff event outside Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, October 2. Rain could not keep scores of foodies from sampling fare from restaurants offering Mexican, Cajun, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.

“The first thing I did was get some clam chowder from London Lennie’s,” Borough President Helen Marshall said.

As people lined up to get a taste of what was to come, many raved about the wide array of eats.

“The pulled pork mac and cheese was amazing,” said Jamaica resident Betty Bishop about Bourbon Street’s offering.

Queens Restaurant Week had humble beginnings, Marshall said, having only about 10 eateries the first year. That list has now grown to nearly 100 and the positive response has resulted in it being extended to two weeks — October 8-11 and October 15-18.

“Last year was our first year [participating], and we did really well. We got a lot of new customers who kept coming back,” said Patty Medina, owner of Uncle Peter’s in Jackson Heights.

Restaurants from every corner of the borough are involved in the event. For a full list of participating restaurants click here.

Restaurant Week is presented by the Queens Tourism Council and is sponsored by Melrose Credit Union, JetBlue, Resorts World Casino New York City, Restaurant Depot, Tequila Sunrise of Bayside, The Queens Courier and The Best of the Boro.

Cara Mia: Family makes it special


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

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At Cara Mia on Hillside Avenue, it’s all in the family. From the opening of the first restaurant in 1970 to present day, family has provided a concrete base for success and an authentic dining experience. With a menu constructed around typical Italian dishes, Cara Mia utilizes fresh ingredients, aged vinegars and tantalizing sauces.

An Italian dining experience is a marathon, not a sprint. At Cara Mia, this style of dining is encouraged through a surplus of appetizers, salads, entrees and sides. Begin your meal with the fried calamari – light and. In the mood for something truly authentic? Taste the eggplant rollatini – fresh eggplant rolled with ricotta cheese, baked in marinara sauce, topped with melted mozzarella.

Entrees include the traditional chicken parmigiana, francaise and Marsala. More inventive entrees include the Capri – breaded cutlets topped with tomato, onions, mescaline lettuce and fresh mozzarella cheese. One of the house specialties, pork chop Valdostando, presents a pork chop stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese, smothered in a Portobello mushroom sauce – truly delicious.

Pasta acts as a large portion of the menu at Cara Mia, combining classic dishes such as lasagna and baked ziti with homemade specialties such as gnocchi Bolognese, an aesthetic presentation of homemade potato gnocchi in a creamy meat sauce. Vegetable inspired dishes include the spinach ravioli marinara and spinach ravioli Portobello. This ravioli will bring you back to your grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon – fresh, textured, tasty.

Italian people take their seafood very seriously – and at Cara Mia, the seafood menu is nothing less than serious business. Mussels, shrimp, clams, scungilli, calamari, flounder and salmon – this is just the beginning to a mouthwatering, delightful Italian experience — complete with creamy garlic sauces, fresh mozzarella cheese and the family’s hearty marinara sauce. Share a variety of entrees and add some sides – perhaps the sautéed escarole or asparagus. Make sure to try the famous meatballs created by Liberata, the grandmother that inspired great success for Cara Mia— providing recipes, family support and an abundance of love.

Cara Mia separates itself from other Italian restaurants through its quality, homemade specialties and genuine love for food. From the small city of Brocastella, Italy to the streets of Queens, family recipes have stayed strong and quality ingredients have prevailed.

At Cara Mia, the mission statement is simple, to the point and admirable: “We cannot emphasize to you, our valued guests, our desire to make your dining experience with us the best you’ve experienced. We hope to have the pleasure of serving you at our establishment very soon.” Visit Cara Mia on Hillside for savory entrees, a pleasant dining atmosphere and a nostalgic visit to the streets of central Italy.

Cara Mia

220-20 Hillside Ave

Queens Village, NY 11427

718-740-9118

http://www.caramiarestaurant.com

Hours:

Tue-Fri 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sat noon – 10 p.m.

Sun 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Credit cards accepted

Full bar

Erawan: Great Thai on Bell Boulevard


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

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With the ideal combination of spicy herbs, sweet pastes and fresh ingredients, Erawan of Bayside has succeeded in bringing authentic Thai cuisine to Bell Boulevard. Thai food is a “vacation” from the heavy Chinese takeout we’re all so accustomed to, as it combines aromatic sauces, tender noodles, fruits and vegetables with tender meats and fresh seafood.

The menu at Erawan brilliantly fuses many Southeast Asian cuisines, utilizing ingredients such as soy, curry, sweet chili, lemongrass, lime and cabbage. A surplus of fresh fruits and vegetables is used in creating these Thai delicacies, and most dishes are paired with thick, flavorful pastes and spicy sauces. Lightly prepared, yet potent with flavor – my taste buds entered a foreign “culinary kingdom” of fresh seafood, spicy curry and tantalizing herbs.

Appetizers are traditional and a great way to become familiar with Thai cuisine. Try the Moo Ping- strips of grilled marinated pork in honey herbs. Searching for something spicy? Order the Tom Yum, shrimp or chicken in a spicy herbal clear broth, light – with hints of lemongrass, lime leaves, and mushroom. The Tom Kha combines coconut milk, galangal, lime leaves and chili with herbs to provide an eye-opening explosion of flavor – unknown, yet delicious.

Entrees range from the typical Pad Thai to pineapple fried rice to crispy duck. Entrees are centered around noodles, shrimp, steak, chicken or tofu. The noodles come in a large assortment of shapes, sizes and flavors – each granting a specific texture to its designated dish. The entrees at Erawan exhibit a flawless focus on traditional Thai cuisine with a delightful infusion of Southeast Asian ingredients, spicy thick curries and sweet homemade pastes.

Pair your entrée with the sticky rice or order the pineapple fried rice and share. If you’re a meat eater order the Nuer Katah – sirloin steak cubes, cilantro roots, scallion garlic and vegetables. In the mood for seafood? The lobster Pad Thai is a gigantic plate of seafood heaven – a one-and-a-half pound lobster stuffed with shrimp. Thai food is a wondrous break from your grandma’s heavy Italian sauces and mom’s fried American staples- it combines sweet, spicy, and sour flavors with fresh meats, vegetables and colorful herbs. You’ll be presently surprised by the light, aromatic, textured cuisine served at this local haven.

“We come here because we know it’s consistent,” said Michelle. “I come hungry and leave satisfied- not full, it’s a great dinner option for people watching their weight.”

Erawan of Bayside offers something for everyone – through an aesthetic local atmosphere, delightful wait staff, and brilliant menu. Whether you’re interested in trying something new, watching your figure or call yourself a “Thai fanatic” – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the food served up at Erawan.

Erawan

42-31 Bell Blvd

Bayside, NY 11361

718 428-2112

www.erawanthaibayside.com

Hours:

Monday – Thursday, noon – 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, noon – 11:30 p.m.

Sunday, 3 – 10 p.m.