Italian Home Cooking
- Tom Sobczak
I tripped over a small bar and restaurant with a real
family atmosphere. The owner is Sal. He waits tables,
cooks and does all an owner should. His wife is Grace.
Grace cooks as well. In the kitchen is Josephine, the
cook. All three argue over just how to satisfy you.
At the bar is either Dee Dee or Sal's son Andrew. Both
are chatterboxes. Both make you a part of the family.
Sal has a handicapped son, Joey. Joey makes sure you
are happy. He nags the others to get your food and
drink fast and in quantities that let you take home
lunch for the next two days. Maria and Rose Mary
(Andrew's wife) wait on tables. This makes service
overkill. Next to and attached to the bar is a coffee
shop with Italian pastries, ices and ice cream. Behind
the coffee shop is a monsterous dining room that looks
out into an outdoor seating area with fruit trees and
the "God Father's" Fig Tree.
The place is populaterd by regulars who add to the
neighborhood flavor. Located at 47-18 Vernon Boulevard
in Long Island City. It is a three short block walk to
the #7 train. If you exit the mid-town tunnel stay
right and go right onto borden Avenue to Vernon.
I had fun and became part of the family. You get fed,
treated as special by momma grace, insulted by Sal if
you don't agree with his democratic politics and
generally fussed over. Most people I met there return
weekly. The new Queens West on the East River is one
block away. The secret called Cassino Restaurant will
be lost as more and more very upscale people show up to
slum and remain to party. Quiet Saturday nights are
getting quite noisey.
Silvercup Studios is nearby. Caruso from NYPD and
others drop in unnoticed. They seem to like it that
way. Would you believe Sal has pictures on the wall of
the current Mayor stopping by for pizza.
Manducati's, a true homestyle Italian restaurant.
Around 1975 I was a Bartender in Popeye's in Sunnyside.
At least once a week I ate with Vinny and his family
along with many of the patrons of Popeye's for the best
Freakin' homestyle Italian in Queens. I often pass by
on my to the expressway and say to myself, I have to go
back to say Hello!
My favorite now?- Piccola Venezia- 28th Ave. Astoria
manducati's can be VERY good (especially for the
suckling pork), but it's also VERY inconsistent.
Piccola Venezia's a good old fashioned choice (but
it's really pricy), I like the fuzi with grappa sauce
(fuzi's an Istrian pasta, and Astoria's crawling with
Istrians...in fact, it was Istrian/Italian long
before it was Greek).
My fave of all is Cono & Sons O'Pescatore, in
Williamsburgh at 301 Graham Avenue (corner Ainslie.
They do old fashioned Neapolitan cooking (so old
fashioned that you'll taste more pork fat than olive
oil, as per the old Neapolitan way).