Italian Flushing Find (Allan?)
Allan, Jim's told me you're from the neighborhood.. I'm wondering if you've ever been to Cafe Italiano (a spiced up pizzeria basically) in the Rockbottom Shopping Centre on Northern Blvd at 156th Street. I've gone there for a bunch of better-than-average lunches with teachers from school, however last night I took my family there for an early,quick,local supper (we were feeling Asian-fooded-out). We usually don't go out for Italian because nothing can (we're a bit immodest, I suppose) beat the Italian peasant dishes we've been cooking at home forever and we usually spend the whole meal thinking we could have done it better at home. Even though we could have easily replicated any of the dishes we enjoyed last night, I thought them to be extremely fresh, well prepared and incredibly low-priced. I had a Swordfish Milanese that was delish, my Dad had grilled porkchops with rosemary and olives in a wine-accented sauce and my Mom had a very nice shrimp fra diavlo (nice sized, crisp shrimp) We ordered baked clams that were excellent, an order of broccoli di rape that was sweeter than most , and a plate of calamari (I've had more tender, but still pretty good). Everything came with a mediocre house salad (I'm not a huge fan of iceberg...) The place was packed and when we left there was a line outside. The best part was they gave us a nice portion of the delicious assorted pizza-breads they put on the tables to take home because my Mom liked them so much!! It's no Felidia, San Domenico, or Cucina, but its pretty good .....
Lisa, Yes we live quite close to the
pizzeria/restaurant. We've only sampled pizza there,
usually the custom-made order our 5 year old
conoisseur son insists on: white pizza- onions,
rosemary, salt & olive oil, no cheese or red sauce.
They obliged and we found the oil to have been of
poor quality, the onions flaccid and the herbage
than the desired rosemary. Perhaps someone arrives
at night to do the chef's task. Your menu sounded
quite good, but we too hate eating out when we have
such Italian culinary expertise living here (my
wife is from the little known Marche region). We
find that the pie MArino's concocts, pizza bianca,
is quite fine, and far better than the Cafe's
version. I spoke to the pizzaiolo who refused to
speak Italian but said he came from Frosinone, in
Lazio. Not exactly Napoli, but he had good hands,
yet poor ingredients, often the bne of most
pizzerias. We would love to interrogate your
Sicilian family about dishes. Are you Eastern or
Western Sicilian? The Western enjoys a North
African influence, the East is linked to Greece. We
have several excellent tomes on Sicilian cuisine in
By the way, how does one eat at the various places
along Francis Lewis Boulevard? We noted that San
Marino is shut. Were they from the hilltown? This
could mean an enclave (usually auto workers) here,
and Romangola cucina.
re: allan evans
At the moment I WISH I were a teacher at St. .Andrews!!!! Just had a particularly bad discipline day at JHS 189 where I am an ESL teacher.. I haven't been to Mezzaluna- I've passed it after many a Storks trek and thought about going but something else alwayscame up. Tell me what's good... I love new places. Have you been to that relatively new huge Chinese place on Northern called Golden Gate? If so, how is it???
re: Lisa Antinore
I haven't been to Mezzaluna yet but we are going before
the month is over. The owners son is in my daughters
3rd grade class at St. Mel and they promised us the VIP
treatment. I'll have a report soon.
Now, I defy anyone to tell me that Stork's cinnamon
jelly donuts aren't the BEST in the universe. The
cheese strudel isn't too shabby either.
re: Lisa Antinore
Avete in manuna dei piu
sanguinosi terroristi del secolo...Vogliamo che
Abdullah Öcalan, che e responsabile dell morte,in 15
ani, di 30 mila persone di cuila maggior parte donne e
bambini, venga consegnato alla repubblica turca,
perche possa dare il conto dei suoi atti malefici eper
dimostrare a tutto il mondo che nessun problema puo
essere disolto con attidi terrorismo.
Questo e un deblitto storico,
perche l Italia e il popolo italiano dimostirino
laloro fedelta ai valori umani e moderni.
Apo per 15 anni ha condotto in
Turchia una guerra fondata sulla crudelta malvagia.
Il popolo turco e riconoscente
all italia per la cattura del nemico principale alla
sua integrita.Con la sua restituzione, questi
sentimenti di amore e grantitudine saranno eterni.
Aspettiamo dallo stato
italiano oun passo che, al di sopra di qualsiasi conto
politico. serva gli ideali di giustizia e pacedell
umanita. Ci auguriamo che tutti i cittadini ed enti
italiani creino sul potere decisivo, un opinione
pubblica che serva questo ideale.
re: allan evans
My Grandmother's family was from Agrigento and Torreta and my Grandfather's family was from Taormina and Campo di Fiori. Unfortunately both of my beautiful grandparents passed away this Spring. You would have loved to interrogate THEM!!! Although they were born here, they were a wealth of information of all things Sicilan and fantastic cooks as well. We continue to cook all of the same dishes but nothing tastes the same without them here.
I can't think of any Sicilan/Arabic culinary terms at the moment. Cucuzza is the first thing that pops into my head as well, although I know there are DOZENS more. I had an Egyptian boyfriend for quite some time and he recogized many words when I would describe my lengthy dinners to him. We use a lot of saffron pignoli, and raisins in our cooking- all legacies of our Arab conquerors...There is also a definite lack of pork in the Sicilan repertoire (I personally ADORE pork!!!!) of my home and the homes of all my neighbors.
If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend a book about Sicily by Mary Taylor Simetti called "On Persephone's Isand" It is wonderful and as she laces so much of her prose with Sicilan dialect she also discusses the Arabic roots of so many of the words and customs. You will love this book. It's a bit difficult to find but I filled out a request for it at the Auburndale Library (across from Holy Cross H.S. on Francis Lewis) and they had it brought in for me... Give it a shot.
As for San Marino, I haven't been there in YEARS... I haven't been to Ernestos for a while either but I suspect that they are doing poorly as they have introduced a few All You Can Eat pasta nights.. Francis Lewis Blvd. is NOT the culinary hot spot at the moment, I guess.. Although I do think the cheese and parsely sausages are quite good at M&S (not as good as the Corona Heights Pork Store, but close if you can believe it..) and the gelati was fantastic at the pool hall that used to be Ethan Allens. Unfortunately that closed last summer and became a Korean billards club..My personal favorite Francis Lewis spot is Deli Biz (the 24 hour deli in the little shopping center that always hosts what seems like a zillion trucculent, loud teenagers late into the night) The owners are Egyptian and make a rice pudding that is seiously FANTASTIC (a touch of rose water, I think...) If you get it make sure they scoop you up a piece that has the cinnamon-accented top- it's a thick, creamy skin and tastes soooo yummy... Every thing else is standard deli from the lotto tickets to the doritos. But that rice pudding- WOW!!!
Since we're kind of neighbors, let me in on some of your favorite spots...
Ciao e buonna notte.....