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Dec 7, 1997 10:40 AM

Italian Flushing Find (Allan?)

  • l

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 .....

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  1. 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.

    8 Replies
    1. re: allan evans

      Agree with you on Caffe Itaiano. I've eaten there twice
      and the food has always been delicious. Do you teach @
      St. Andrews ? My wife is a substitute teacher there.
      Have you tried the new Mezzaluna in old Whitestone ?

      1. re: J.Knoesel
        Lisa Antinore

        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???

        1. 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.

          1. re: J.Knoesel
            Lisa Antinore

            Igraduated St.Mels in 1986. I still go back and visit all of my old teachers!!! When I'm feeling particularly Catholic, I go to 12:45 Sunday mass (very infrequently I'm ashamed to admit...) I bet I know you!!! Such a small world. Let me know about Mezzaluna when you go...

          2. 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.

            1. re: ali

              Caro Ali,
              Questo é un Forum per cucina, non politica. A
              proposito, ci puoi offrire qualche suggerimento per
              la bella cucina Ottomano?

              (Dear Ali, This is a forum for cuisine, not politics.
              How about some suggestions for the luscious cuisine
              from your heritage?)

        2. re: allan evans
          Lisa Antinore


          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.....

          1. re: Lisa Antinore
            Lisa Antinore

            I couldn't remember the name before, but here it is- one of the loveliest books about the seasonal foods and celebrations of Sicliy- "The Heart of Sicliy- Recipes and Reminiscences of Regeali, A Country Estate" by Anna Tasca Lanza

            It's really beautiful....