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The King of Corona

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Lisa Antinore Aug 17, 1998 08:13 AM

Here's the latest review for all you insatiable chowzers who send me sweet E-mail.... Enjoy the rest of your summer, I'm off to Miami for a bit of R&R.....

The King of Corona

*Picnics on the beach. Big bowls of iced Bing cherries. Mr. Softee’s song.
Ripe, juicy tomatoes fresh off the vine. Kids splashing in icy water hydrant
sprays. Fireflies. No socks. Wet hair. Sun-kissed cheeks. Summer’s
pleasures are endless and one of the season’s greatest joys is joining the
masses of people queued up outside Ben Faremo’s stainless-steel,
flourescent-lit corner shop on a sweltering summer night.

*In their hit, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” Queens natives
Simon and Garfunkel declared an unknown Rosie the “Queen of Corona.”
Perhaps. However Peter Ben Faremo is its undisputed and beloved King.
For over half a century his Lemon Ice King of Corona has been dispensing
twenty-nine flavors of homemade Italian ices to hordes of adoring fans.
Everything from cantaloupe, bubble gum, licorice, and tangerine to
chocolate, vanilla chip, watermelon, and of course the renowned lemon.

*The ices served at The Lemon Ice King of Corona aren’t your standard
sugary, artificially-flavored confections. No Siree Bob. Those are actually
seeds in your cantaloupe ice, mint leaves in your mint ice, and crushed
raspberry in your raspberry ice. Peanut butter ice, one of three flavors Mr.
Ben Faremo doesn’t sell wholesale to pizzerias, has achieved cult status
among its many devotees. Chunks of chopped peanuts and peanut butter
chips stud the creamy, tan mixture and an extra-large serving ($1.50) is the
perfect antidote to a humid evening. Heaven in a cup.

*Met fans fresh from Shea games, black-clad nonnas, and nearby Italian
social club members stand in line with neighborhood kids, trendetti on their
way to the Hamptons, and folks who have long ago moved to Long Island’s
burbs but want to share a sweet taste of their childhood with their children.
Everyone has come to this venerable Queens institution for a lick of the
perfect Italian ice.

*When the moment you’ve been waiting for finally arrives and you’re
smack up against the counter, chances are you’ll glimpse the King himself,
Peter Ben Faremo, holding court. Odds are he’ll be sitting on a plastic chair
in the rear of the shop silently overseeing his white-shirted, paper-capped
scoop-troops do their thing. The no napkins, no spoons, no mixing flavors
rules sometimes makes me think Manhattan’s Soup Nazi isn’t the only
gourmet despot, but after countless pilgrimages I’ve finally remembered to
bring my own napkins and it’s not such a big deal. The no-mixing rule is no
problem for myself or any of the others; we simply order a trio or more of
the flavors we’re interested in slurping and head off to the affectionately
dubbed “Spaghetti Park” just across the street.

*No visit to The Lemon Ice King of Corona is complete without a
leisurely sojourn in the tiny Spaghetti Park. Sit for a spell and watch a
heated boccie ball match among the older neighborhood men. Listen to the
music of the Italian dialects that are spoken by almost everyone. Sing along
with Al Martino, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Perry Como. Witness the
modern passeggiata- adolescent boys and girls strolling about eyeing each
other shyly. Take a lick of your beloved’s ice and kiss under the stars.

*Night time is the best time for the Ice King, however the biggest bonus of
a visit when the sun is high in the sky is the fact that the Corona Heights
Pork Store just around the corner (107-04 Corona Avenue
718-592-7350/Closed Sun. and Mon.)will be open. This is the shop with the
hands-down best sausage in New York. Sweet sausage with fennel is
fantastic as are links stuffed with broccoli di rape, however the thin, coiled
pork sausage with parsley and Pecorino Romano cheese is the winner and
my absolute favorite. Flavorful and generously “cheesed” it is celestial
browned on the barbecue with crusty Semolina bread and sauteed tri-color
peppers.

*My grandfather always spoke lovingly of Corona, especially during the
months before his passing. Born in Connecticut, his family moved to New
York when he was a little boy and Corona was the neighborhood in which
they settled. You could leave the doors open, walk around at all hours,
everyone looked after one another, everyone was poor but happy, it was the
best place to be in New York.... These are the things he would tell me. A lot
has changed since my Grandpa’s Corona days but with my Ice King cup,
sitting under the stars in the park, listening to Al Martino’s smooth
croonings, and watching the wrinkled men play their boccie ball I have an
idea of what my Grandpa felt. Guess what, I’d like to tell him. Some things
never change. Seventy-plus years later on a hot summer’s night, Corona is
still the best place to be in this big city.

Happy Eating!

Lisa Antinore

Ben Faremo- The Lemon Ice King of Corona
52-02 108th Street
Corona, Queens
718-699-5133

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    Frank Language RE: Lisa Antinore Sep 10, 1998 01:42 AM

    Oh, please do tell: what's the best way to get there by
    subway from the end of the E line (Jamaica/Van Wyck,
    actually)? I have no sense of direction in Queens, but
    I'm condemned to spend most of two weeks there, so I
    figure I'll take advantage of being in Queens and
    sample the wares.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frank Language
      m
      marshall RE: Frank Language Sep 10, 1998 07:07 AM

      What's so captivating in Queens? Strange place for a
      vacation, or is it? You did say condemned though.

      Is it even possible to have a sense of direction there
      if you don't have a car?

      What I want to know is what is the best place for
      dinner in Queens? Good cheap eats versus a warm
      romantic spot.

      1. re: Frank Language
        j
        Jeremy Osner RE: Frank Language Sep 10, 1998 03:33 PM

        Take the E train to Roosevelt Ave.
        Transfer to the Flushing-bound 7 train.
        Take the 7 to the stop after Junction Blvd. (I think
        it's 102nd but I'm not sure).
        Walk to 108th; turn south; walk to Corona Ave. The
        Lemon Ice King is on the corner, plus so is the park
        where they play bocce, and the Corona Heights Pork
        store is a few doors in from the corner, if you're in
        the mood for sausage. Oh and don't miss the Salumeria
        deli; they have excellent bread.

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