Tag Archives: Vernon Boulevard

LIC’s Alobar petitions for outdoor seating


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

With summer just around the corner, Alobar in Hunters Point is seeking permission to serve patrons outdoors.

The popular restaurant at 46-42 Vernon Boulevard is not allowed to offer its customers backyard seating as a stipulation of its liquor license.

Alobar’s owner Jeff Blath said when customers see his outdoor seating area, they often request a table there, but he has to turn them down. According to him, the business loses thousands of dollars when the weather is nice.

“I have to tell them no, and customers will usually respond with, ‘We’ll go somewhere else’,” he said.

Community Board 2 granted Alobar its liquor license. CB 2 Chair Joseph Conley said the board has previously had to deal with establishments whose backyard seating caused disturbances to neighbors and the community.

He cited Lounge 47 as an example. After years of neighbors’ complaints about excessive noise during late hours, the establishmen closed. It was located at 47-10 Vernon Boulevard.

“By and large, from past experience, people do not want them because they are a negative impact to the way of life,” said Conley. “It is very clear the community has spoken about this. Residents that live there are opposed to it.”

However, Blath maintains Alobar has been a good neighbor and will stay that way. His petition has gained 438 signatures from neighbors and customers.

“Now that I’ve been around, I’ve proven myself to be a good neighbor. I welcome speaking to neighbors and hearing from them,” Blath said. “I want to be able to go to the community board with a good number of people to show it’s what people want.”

Blath plans to make the case that Alobar is a quiet restaurant. There will be no speakers to play music, he has built 11-foot-high walls and set up an awning to muffle noise.

If CB 2 approves use of Alobar’s backyard space, the restaurant will stay open until 10:30 p.m. Blath considers that a reasonable time compared to some other establishments, which stay open past midnight.

“I’m asking for less than everyone else,” he said.

The next board meeting is on May 2. Conley said he welcomes Blath to come and bring his proposal.

“Based on the facts, there could be something unique,” Conley said. “Each case is looked at individually.”

 

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The Who gifts sound system to Sandy-struck venue


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TheWho.com

When an LIC music venue’s set was cut short by Sandy, it didn’t expect the sound to be turned back on by a group of rock legends.

Music icons The Who gifted the besieged LIC Bar with a brand new sound system after the Vernon Boulevard favorite was inundated by seven feet of water, wiping out its entire cache of electronic equipment.

LIC Bar, known for hosting mainly local live acts four nights a week, has previously held impromptu gigs for bigger acts like Violent Femmes and The Fleshtones and holds a major place in the music landscape of New York City.

The internationally known band heard about the venue’s plight when LIC Bar patron Robert Basch alerted members of The Who’s record label about the damage endured by the establishment during Sandy when they stopped in Brooklyn during their “Quadrophenia” tour in November.

“[Basch] had this crazy idea of ‘I’m going to approach The Who,’” said LIC Bar talent booker Gustavo Rodriguez of the gutsy guest. “He told me he was going to do it and I thought he was kidding around.”

According to Rodriguez, Basch’s original intention was to see if the group could do a surprise performance at LIC Bar. With a tight schedule of performances, the band did the next best thing, hooking the venue up with gear from Shure Microphones and Peavey Electronics, the same state-of-the-art equipment The Who uses at their shows.

“It’s definitely much appreciated,” said LIC Bar owner Brian Porter. “Who knows what could come from it. It’s a true blessing.”

Porter said it looked unlikely that the bar’s insurance would cover the nearly $75,000 in damages from the storm. The bar spent the first three weeks after Sandy cleaning up and finally reopened in late November.

“We’re up and running, thank God,” said Rodriguez. “Everything seems to be normal again. People were glad to see us open. We definitely have a following.”

Rodriguez, who is a longtime fan of The Who, said he expects the gear to arrive at LIC Bar sometime this week.

“This gesture from The Who is a godsend,” said Rodriguez.

 

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Cuba comes to LIC with Madera


| editorial1@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Madera

A sincere passion for food is the driving force at Madera in Long Island City. Staying true to her family’s Cuban roots, owner Miriam Porto has established a significant customer base through her genuine appreciation of her culture, culinary roots and an eye for detail.  Each dish at Madera is carefully designed and created for the customer. Filled with slow cooked meats, savory tender vegetables and brilliantly flavored seafood, the menu at Madera is truly magnificent.

“Before the opening of the restaurant, I had my chef stay in the kitchen with my mother for two years, watching her cook, learning,” Porto said as she explained the history behind the cuisine.

Hailing from a creative, culinary-inspired family, Porto decided that she would open Madera and give customers the same quality she would expect in her own home.

“I do all the grocery shopping myself, up to five times a week,” she said.

We began our culinary adventure with stuffed green plantains and Cuban-style grilled shrimp. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, marinated in the chef’s secret recipe. Artfully presented, buttery, surprisingly light – a must try! The stuffed green plantains have lean meat marinated in garlic, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, olives, raisins and capers stuffed inside a plantain shell. I enjoyed the consistency of the meat, tangy mixture of the tomato and raisins, and most importantly, the overall fusion of ingredients.

The food isn’t the only thing that stands out upon entering this Cuban eatery. The atmosphere at Madera deserves an award in itself – rich mahogany, dim lighting, a distinctive ambiance heightened by brilliant artwork. Most of the paintings that grace the walls are courtesy of Miriam’s husband. His artistry is a truly distinctive contribution to the establishment, and it is more than obvious that creativity runs in the family.

The quality is blatantly obvious in the food as we begin our entrees – the “lechon asado con mojo criollo” presents succulent, slow roasted pork with a side of dirty rice. The pork is cooked for up to seven hours and melts in your mouth – truly delicious. If you’re in the mood for beef, order the skirt steak. Tender, flavorful, grilled, presented with lemon and chimichurri sauce, which is almost too good to eat, and can be added to anything for an instant burst of flavor.

The culinary marathon came to an end with the Chilean sea bass, served on a bed of jasmine rice with sautéed vegetables. An exquisite presentation, savory, cooked to perfection – one of the most memorable renditions of the dish I’ve tried thus far.

From appetizer to entrée each dish we tried was succulent, presenting an assortment of unforgettable flavors within a charming atmosphere. The entire meal was narrated by soothing strums of guitar and harmonizing vocals, as Madera offers live music throughout the week.

Located on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, this establishment combines authentic cuisine with a sincere passion for food, which is obvious to each and every customer that enters their charming Cuban eatery.

Madera Cuban Grill
47-29 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101
718-606-1236
Reservations, Delivery, Take-out, Full Bar

 

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Brooklyn Cupcake makes a new home in Long Island City


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Cupcake

The fluorescent Pepsi sign brought Brooklyn Cupcake owner Carmen Rodriguez to Long Island City.

Years ago, when the neighborhood was still in its early days of development, she journeyed to find the iconic neon insignia and stumbled upon Long Island City, instantly forming a bond with the unique sector of the city. After catering several weddings in the area, she began exploring the possibility of opening another storefront in her new favorite neighborhood.

Brooklyn Cupcake recently announced plans to debut a second location in conjunction with Uncle Louie G’s on 48th Avenue off Vernon Boulevard, to create a one-stop dessert shop.

“There are no other bakeries [in LIC] and everyone needs a local bakery,” said Rodriguez.

Brooklyn Cupcake’s Williamsburg location, which will celebrate its second birthday this July, creates confectionary dreams like Vanilla Raspberry, Guava con Queso and Red Velvet for adoring customers. The team uses real cream cheese and whipped cream in their baking, instead of butter cream, to give their cupcakes a rich, smooth taste and texture. However it’s the fans that set this bakery apart from other sweet shops. The New York Daily News voted them the number one cupcake spot in NYC and they scored a coveted Zagat rating of 27 out of 30.

“Cupcakes are the ‘in’ thing – the logical dessert option if you’re looking to be the hit of the party, dinner whatever the occasion,” said Rodriguez. “You can show up with 12 different flavors and be sure to please almost everyone.”

The Long Island City location of Brooklyn Cupcake will also offer ice cream, milkshakes, coffee, tea and cakes.
Rodriguez says the secret to a killer cupcake is adding just a little something extra.

“It is made with love, it will always taste good,” she said.

 

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Short-term parking announced in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Fed up with commuters using their neighborhood as a parking lot, residents and community leaders of Long Island City banded together with the Department of Transportation, (DOT) and announced the reduction of 12-hour parking meters.

The new meter regulation, which accounts for 39 spots where Vernon Boulevard meets Borden Avenue, one block from the No. 7 Train, will now only allow two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said that this new parking rule will keep commuters from hogging the spots while they work in Manhattan.

“Long Island City is not a parking lot,” said Van Bramer. “It is a thriving community where thousands have come to live and where we are seeing many businesses open every month. For Long Island City residents and businesses this is a welcome announcement.”

Businesses along the thriving Vernon Boulevard made numerous overtures for DOT officials to review the neighborhood’s parking regulations, making the claim that long term parking was hurting business and a short term parking plan more suited the area.

“Long Island City is not just a commuter stop on the way to Manhattan,” said Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a theater in L.I.C. “A lot of people come here to eat and to shop – these new regulations will help ensure that when people park here, they are spending their money here.”

Mike Del Rey, owner of Bricktown Bagels on Vernon Boulevard for five years, said that parking has been a constant headache for him and his customers since opening in the neighborhood. He said that these new rules will enable bagel buyers to run in and get a quick breakfast.

“L.I.C. needed this,” he said. “I’ve only been here for five years, and I’m sure we needed this long before then.”

Maura McCarthy, Queens Borough Commissioner of the DOT, said that the new regulations will be studied and reviewed, and more changes could be on the way.

“Adjusting meter regulations can go a long way toward increasing parking options for Long Island City residents, visitors and businesses,” she said. “We are glad to work closely with local elected officials to make parking easier.”

Van Bramer also announced short-term metered parking was being added and parking regulations were adjusted along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, making parking more accessible for motorists, especially to customers of local businesses lining the corridor.

Alobar opens in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo by Steve Mosco

Good food takes time.

Great food takes a lot of time.

Excellent food takes about six months.

Alobar opened on Vernon Boulevard after months of the usual batch of roadblocks faced by new restaurants in every corner of the city. During that tenuous time, residents would regularly peek in and examine the fully decorated space – cries of, “when, by God, when?!” could be heard as far as the Gantries.

The LIC community is one that craves originality. Run-of-the-mill joints like Dunkin Donuts or Subway can come in, stake a claim and probably do respectable business. However, such establishments will be ridiculed on blogs, roundly shunned by the majority of neighborhood regulars and criticized by know-it-all journalists.

We know what we want in our lives and in our gaping maws. We want effort, we want succulence, we want innovation – and at Alobar we get what we want.

The restaurant gives eaters something new and creative each and every visit, with quality ingredients that come from less than 200 miles away. The freshness is evident and that fact slaps you in the face the moment the first dish arrives.

Alobar’s Charcuterie comes as either a small or large plate – order the large, you won’t regret it. This appetizer revs the salivary glands with a veritable butcher’s list of choice cuts including spicy and sweet salamis, Virginia prosciutto, guanciale, duck rilette and foie gras with white truffle mousse. A word of caution: the guanciale, a cut from the pig’s cheeks or jowls, will make your knees weak.

Post-cheese plate, check out Alobar’s small plates. Of course “small” is a relative term here, as these dishes are huge in flavor and ingredients. In this section, the wise eater will grab the wild mushroom toast. This dish might become your favorite food – not your favorite item on the menu, but your favorite food, period. The toast is stacked and mingles perfectly with smoked ricotta, roasted garlic, red wine onions and topped with, of all things, a duck egg.

From now on, I propose we top EVERYTHING with a duck egg, as it adds a certain richness and buttery texture to this dish. Oh, and the toast is swimming in a bacon gastrique – it’s like a breakfast Einstein would have come up with.

Other small plates include pumpkin risotto, little neck clams and roasted bone marrow with snail butter – order it and find out.

Before the entrees come out, let’s examine the “Snacks & Sides” section of the menu. When you see the words Amish Pig Tails, you might think bite-sized morsels of chewy pig parts. Wrong. These tails are big, fatty and meaty – slathered in barbecue sauce, they taste like the greatest pork ribs anyway, anytime.

As for those entrees, Alobar’s menu features so many enticing options that choosing one might give you brain freeze. Don’t fret, order the roasted pig and reassure yourself that there will be many more visits. The roasted pig is a delicious cross section of dark and white meat, with a cap of fat and crisp skin. This succulent beauty rests atop cheddar risotto and is accompanied by Kentucky fried apples.

Other dishes to come back for include braised short ribs, braised octopus and oxtail, mac and cheese carbonara, smoked salmon filet, organic roasted chicken and a burger taken to a whole other level.

Alobar’s cocktails should be a constant throughout the meal, as they have something for lightweights to heavyweights and everyone in between. They also have an impressive wine list and a collection of beers that do not cater to the likes of Anheuser-Busch.

The restaurant is also open for lunch and brunch, featuring tweaked versions of dinner options, along with a few exclusive items. I already have plans for a weekend brunch visit.

Alobar is a top shelf restaurant with unforgettable food, wonderful décor and a staff of pleasant and knowledgeable professionals. Listen to this reviewer, follow your stomach and get yourself to Alobar for a meal among friends.

Alobar

46-42 Vernon Boulevard

LIC, NY 11101

Tel: 718-752-6000

www.AlobarNYC.com

Alobar on Urbanspoon

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men

Cops are hunting for a group of men they say raped a woman on a dark Queens street early Sunday. The 20-year-old woman was walking near Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in Hunters Point when two men grabbed her and dragged her into a parking lot at about 3:45 a.m., police said. As the two suspects held her down between two cars, a third man — who is in his late 20s and about 5-foot-10 with blond hair and blue eyes — raped her, cops said.  Read More: Daily News

Queens rape victim was falsely imprisoned for robberies; now she sues city cops for falling for her attacker’s story

A QUEENS rape victim who was locked up for robberies she didn’t commit is suing city and Long Island cops for falling for her attacker’s “preposterous hoax” of a revenge plot. In a federal lawsuit, Seemona Sumasar claims NYPD cops protected her attacker, Jerry Ramrattan, because he was secretly funneling them information about other crimes while working as an informant. Read More: Daily News

Parents and officials say Department of Education has turned back on Jamaica High School

Even though the Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to close Jamaica High School was finalized in February, current students are still hoping for a quality education. Currently in the process of being phased out, Jamaica High School no longer accepts new students and is expected to close its doors for good in 2014. Read More: Queens Courier

At Top Public Schools, the Arts Replace Recess

All of this concentrated learning — activities parents commonly think of as enrichment — was taking place not after school hours, but during recess, the once-unstructured midday break that for some elementary school students is slowly being squeezed out of the day. Jump rope, freeze tag and the jungle gym have some new competition. At some of the city’s highest-rated public elementary schools, recess is now being seen by parents and educators as a time to pack in extra learning. Read More: New York Times

Giants, Mets Trade: New York Trades Angel Pagan To San Francisco For Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez

Walking across the hotel lobby, New York Mets manager Terry Collins smiled. “We rebuilt our bullpen in one day,” he said. In a rapid-fire series of moves at the winter meetings that took 1 1/2 days to put together and 1 1/2 hours to finalize, the Mets agreed to trade center fielder Angel Pagan to San Francisco for outfielder Andres Torres and pitcher Ramon Ramirez, and reached agreements with free-agent relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Read More: Huffington Post

Ex-corrections officer acquitted of attempted murder charges in Queens

A former correction officer who was facing up to 25 years in prison for shooting two men outside of a Queens bowling alley was acquitted of double attempted murder and assault charges. “His defense was one of self-defense,” said Michael Lavecchio’s trial attorney, Stephen Worth, after a jury cleared his client of all charges on Monday night. Lavecchio, 55, was working as a security guard at the AMF bowling alley on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights on February 6, 2010 when he asked Justin Donaghy and Gerard Hourigan to leave the building.  Read More: New York Post

MTA forgot about stranded blizzard train

The MTA’s subway boss admitted yesterday that transit officials got so overwhelmed during last year’s Christmas-time blizzard they “forgot” about an A train stuck on the tracks for nine agonizing hours with 500 passengers on board. Read More: New York Post

Deafening Noise After Incident At Queens Plant


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Two women shot in Astoria

Cops are on the hunt for a man who allegedly shot his wife and daughter inside of a home in Astoria on Monday morning.  According to reports, the two women were shot in the head and were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and are now listed in stable condition. Read More: Queens Courier

Teenage boy fatally shot by bus madman Damel Burton was a protector of neighborhood kids 

The mother of the teenage boy killed by her ex-con boyfriend minutes before he shot up a Queens bus said Saturday there had been no signs of trouble.  She fought back tears speaking of the bright future she had seen for her slain son, a senior at Queens Transition Center. Read More: Daily News

Deafening Noise After Incident At Queens Plant

A steam release at a power plant in Queens was causing a deafening noise on Monday morning.  The steam was released to reduce steam pressure at the TransCanada owned Ravenswood Generating Station at Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. Read More: MyFoxNY

Queens family of seven evicted in dispute with landlord over ‘dozens’ of violations 

A Queens family of seven is scrambling to find a place to live after their landlord served them with an eviction notice the day before Thanksgiving. Laura and Thomas Cavanagh said began withholding rent on the Broad Channel home after their landlord refused to fix dozens of problems — ranging from black mold under the sink to a rodent infestation in the attic.  Read More: Daily News

Postal Service Cuts To Lengthen Delivery Time

As financial problems continue to mount, the U.S. Postal Service is set to announce a series of unprecedented cuts today.  The estimated $3 billion in reductions will affect first class mail and likely eliminate the possibility of next day delivery for the first time in 40 years. Read More: NY1

St. John’s Visits The Motor City To Take On Titans, Honor Vitale

Head coach Steve Lavin’s new-look St. John’s basketball team (4-4) stays on the road in its final contest before breaking for 11 days for exams, taking on the Detroit Titans (3-6, 0-2 Horizon League) on Monday at 7 p.m. The second-ever matchup between the Red Storm and University of Detroit will air live nationally on ESPN2. Read More: Red Storm Sports