Tag Archives: restaurant

Mexican restaurant Tacuba opens in Astoria


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tacuba

Mexican-style restaurant Tacuba Cantina Mexicana, opened Tuesday in Astoria—just in time for Mexico’s Independence Day.

The restaurant, located at 35-01 36th St., is the seventh eatery for chef Julian Medina and partners Louis Skibar and Brian Sobhan, and their first outside of Manhattan.

Tacuba, named for a section in Mexico City, is a cantina-style restaurant that features a 3,400-square-foot dining room with custom-made Mexican lanterns, reclaimed wood, lights strung overhead, spacious booths and a bar.

The restaurant’s menu includes Mexican favorites such as tacos with homemade corn tortillas, various flavors of empanadas, guacamole and peruano, to name a few dishes. Take a look at more of the menu at We Heart Astoria.

Since cantina-style restaurants are known for having a lively bar scene, Tacuba offers an abundance of tequilas, mezcals, margaritas and cocktails.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

LAST COURSE: Patrons say goodbye to Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Rosanne Aliperti celebrated one wedding and 23 birthdays at Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant.

And 84-year-old Nathan Boland sometimes made the trip twice a day, rain or shine, for a good chicken Parmesan.

Thousands of diners like them left with full stomachs and empty hearts Sunday on the beloved Italian restaurant’s last day in business.

“It was like one big family here. It’s a shame,” said Maspeth regular MaryAnn Papavero. “It’s very depressing to think this is their last day when it was such a great institution.”

The neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park served hungry diners from across the city and Long Island for nearly 70 years. It opened in 1948 under Joe Abbracciamento and was later taken over by his sons, John and Joe Jr.

But after working in the restaurant since they were teenagers, the brothers plan to retire.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling, seeing the thousands of people who showed up today,” John, 60, said. “It’s a tribute to my father and my family, and it will be an everlasting memory.”

The decision to close was heartbreaking until the last hour, said his wife, Marie, after embracing customers — some who had grown into close friends.

“It’s very emotional for us,” said Marie, holding back tears. “We really don’t want to say goodbye to anyone. It’s going to be very hard to leave the people.”

People like Aliperti, 45, who walked into the restaurant on her wedding day on April 7, 1990 and essentially never left.

“I’ve spent every special day here — my wedding, every birthday, bridal showers, every anniversary,” said Aliperti, while wiping away tears. “They’re a part of our lives. I’ve had every beautiful moment here.”

The last day was also bittersweet for 86-year-old Mary Schmalenberger, who associates decades of happy memories with the longstanding corner eatery.

The senior has trouble walking and had not left the house in months, but made the trip from Middle Village to say goodbye.

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said. “There will never be another Abbracciamento.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Logan’s Cafe at LeHavre on the Water celebrates successful first year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Logan’s Café has only been open for one year, but it already has a loyal fan base. 

“The food here is excellent, and the environment is nice and comfortable,” said Irwin Hodes, 75, a daily customer. “I don’t know another place that has food as good as this.”

Dozens of diners, and several more in the summer, have flocked to the small Whitestone diner at LeHavre on the Water every day since it opened last Feb. 18, said the restaurant’s operator Logan O’Connor.

“It’s exciting,” said the 20-year-old entrepreneur from Whitestone. “I met a lot of people here and learned a lot of things about being a business person.”

O’Connor saw a notice seeking a new café concessionaire at LeHavre last November, when he was visiting his grandparents.

“I was always interested in cooking and always wanted to own my own restaurant,” he said, leaping at the chance and landing the poolside eatery.

O’Connor often finds himself jumping from behind the grill to the counter, manning all posts at the restaurant, with no fear of burning out.

“I do everything, seven days a week,” he said. “I don’t get tired. It’s fun.”

Logan’s Café is located at 168-68 9th Ave., in the LeHavre clubhouse.

To celebrate the eatery’s first milestone, O’Connor is giving out free cupcakes Tuesday.

“It’s a get-together place,” Hodes said. “We’re all happy he’s here.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES:

New owner looks to end unlucky streak at former Patrizia’s of Bayside site


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The new owner of a luckless Bayside restaurant site is determined to end a streak of bad breaks at the locale.

“We’re going to bring it back to its original glory,” said George Makkos, whose newest restaurant, Vivaldi, replaces Patrizia’s of Bayside.

The 201-10 Cross Island Parkway building had been a revolving door of new management since the popular Caffe on the Green closed in 2009.

Valentino’s on the Green took over after that, but was soon followed by Patrizia’s. Patrizia’s shut down after less than a year in business.

Vivaldi is set to open for dinner in the first or second week of June.

“I don’t want to compare myself to anybody,” said Makkos, 51, of Manhattan. “I cannot speak for anybody else. I can only speak for what I stand for, and I stand for quality, perfection, impeccable service and attentiveness to the customer.”

A Parks Department spokesperson said Makkos has a record of running successful upscale restaurants. The president of 123 Restaurant Group, he operates several wedding venues and catering halls in Queens, Manhattan and Long Island, including Battery Gardens and the Venetian Yacht Club.

Makkos said the menu will feature homemade dishes cooked to original recipes concocted by Caffe’s former executive chef. He added that Vivaldi will use the finest ingredients on everything including brick-oven pizza.

While the menu and prices have not been finalized, Makkos said there will be “gracious portions for a value.” Food options will also change to refl ect the season, with lighter dishes in the summer.

Vivaldi is in the process of obtaining a liquor license. The restaurant will be open seven days a week. After the June launch, it will expand to offer lunch and catering along with dinner.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

 

BBQ restaurant to replace shuttered Douglaston sports bar Strawberry’s


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Order up!

Queens foodies looking to pig out on a slab of ribs need go no further than Douglaston.

Smokin’ Aces Championship BBQ is slated to open in the first week of June. It will replace Strawberry’s, a popular sports bar at 42-15 235th Street that abruptly closed last October.

“Everything just kind of fell into place. It was a really good opportunity,” said Tricia Capodagli, the smokehouse’s sole owner. “When the universe puts everything in front of you and you’re set up to succeed, you might as well do it.”

Capodagli is an accountant and an independent business manager for more than a dozen Manhattan restaurants. She said the venture marks her first foray outside of Manhattan. It is also the first restaurant she has owned.

“This would be a good start for me. It just worked out very well,” said Capodagli, 39. “I’m seeing a lot of development in Queens. I’m seeing it really being built up.”

The family-friendly barbecue joint will offer fried pickles, pulled pork sandwiches, nachos, chili, mac and cheese, burgers and buckets of sides to share.

With Queens prices and healthy options, Capodagli said diners will not have to break the bank or their belts.

“We’re trying to keep everything under $25,” she said. “These will not be Manhattan prices.”

Strawberry’s Sports Grill — the brainchild of the Mets’ and Yankees’ four-time World Series champ, Darryl Strawberry — was only open for two years before it shuttered up.

Sources close to the eatery told The Courier poor management ran the popular dive to the ground.
Locals said the restaurant’s remote location by the Douglaston Long Island Rail Road station, which gets minimal foot traffic, could have been a factor as well.

Still, Capodagli is optimistic she will have a different fate than her predecessor.

“It’s like everything — if you’re getting a good meal and good service, then it’s not out of the way and it’s worth it,” she said.

Before the grand opening, Capodagli said she must obtain certificates from the city’s Department of Buildings and pass a health department inspection scheduled for later this week.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “You never know where life takes you.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

EXCLUSIVE: Strawberry’s closes suddenly this weekend


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A New York baseball legend’s sports bar shuttered Sunday after poor management ran the popular Douglaston dive to the ground, the Courier has learned.

Strawberry’s Sports Grill — the brainchild of the Mets’ and Yankees’ four-time World Series champ, Darryl Strawberry — had only been open for two years before the prominent restaurant struck out, having to suddenly shut its doors for good this weekend. News of the closure came out of left field to employers and upper management, sources said.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Michael Strawberry, Darryl’s brother, who helped run the Queens hotspot but did not manage its day-to-day operations. “I am very sad. Rest assured it had nothing to do with my brother and me.”

Employees at the homerun food joint — who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution — said they suspected the neighborhood eatery was quickly going downhill early this week when the restaurant stopped placing orders for food and paychecks were being bounced.

“They gave us checks on Friday but said we couldn’t cash them until Tuesday because they said there was no money,” the employee said. “People may not be getting paid. They owe some people $600 to $800.”

According to sources close to the situation, the main manager who was responsible for the restaurant’s downfall recently jumped the sinking ship. They claim the majority of some 30 restaurant workers, who will be left jobless, and customers, were also not told of the dining hole’s doom.

Michael Strawberry did not fully confirm the accusations but said they “could be true.”

“Some of these things, I don’t even know. It was a beautiful experience. I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus,” he said, adding that upper management is now trying to close gracefully. “This is just something that had to be done here at this time.”

Employees said they do not hold either Strawberry brother responsible for the abrupt closure.

“Michael is a great, great man — probably one of the biggest role models I’ve ever met,” a staff member said. “It hurts him more than anybody to see that the place is closing.”

Ayna Agra brings India to Bayside


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

DSC_0004w

Ayna Agra is a diamond in the rough, bringing a refreshing cultural addition to Bayside. This restaurant combines traditional aspects of a typical Indian dining experience with a cozy atmosphere and warm wait-staff. From Marinated Chicken Fritters to Spiced Samosas, Ayna Agra offers an assortment of classic Indian-style appetizers, entrees and homemade desserts.

Appetizers include traditional dishes such as Samosas and Bombay Shrimp, yet incorporate chef-inspired specials such as Bombay Calamari and assorted appetizers. Inventive condiments are utilized with most dishes and include a delicious Mango Chutney and Raita, which combines chopped carrots and cucumber in yogurt. Other condiments include a mix pickle which is a mix of lemon, mango and flavorful Indian spices.

Along with condiments, warm Indian breads complement the meal. These include Papadum, which mimics a crisp waffle, hinting at flavors of lentil and cumin. Classic breads such as Naan are offered in a surplus of variations including onion, garlic and cheese. Roti, a multi-layered whole wheat bread is similar to the Paratha, which is also a multi-layered bread served with butter.

Most entrees include a meat complemented by a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and rich sauces. Classic Indian entrees such as Chicken Curry are served in a traditional home-style curry sauce and are savory, spicy and flavorful. Chicken Dhan Shag presents chicken cooked in creamy spinach, lentils and bits of pineapple – hearty with hints of many flavors. I tried the Beef Kurma – tender beef cooked with coconut milk and rich almond sauce. Unusual yet extraordinary, presenting the tender beef complemented by the rich coconut milk and nutty almond flavors.

Other entrees include Keema Peas Curry, which is a minced beef dish cooked with green peas in a home-style Masala. The Lamb Vindaloo combines lamb and a spicy Masala sauce, while the Lamb Shag is savory, combining tender meat with creamy spinach. All entrees include Basmasti Rice, Dhal and seasoned cabbage.

Ayna Agra also offers vegetarian and seafood entrees, appealing to all culinary audiences. In addition to these offerings, a signature menu is presented, including dishes such as Bombay Duck and Chicken Tikka Masala.

Before leaving this cozy restaurant, make sure to try one of the homemade desserts. Everything from the mango ice cream to the Gulab Jamun (deep fried cottage cheese dipped in rum syrup) is presented in an authentic, beautiful manner.

Ayna Agra offers savory-sweet breads, truly authentic entrees and innovative homemade desserts, all served in a warm, intimate atmosphere. Located conveniently off of Bell Boulevard in Bayside, make sure to visit this charming establishment and taste all it has to offer.

Taste of Sunnyside


| smosco@queenscourier.com

The Courier Photos

The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) joined forces for the 2nd annual Taste of Sunnyside event on Tuesday October 15.

 

The community came out in numbers to sample the best tastes from throughout the neighborhood.

 

As it was last year, this event was a wonderful showcase of the world’s premier food and drinks close to home in western Queens – guests tasted Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Filipino, Irish, American and much, much more.