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Long forgotten restaurants in Flushing, Queens

  • m

I, too, remember Old Roma. Not because I ate there (my family was adverse to "western" foods), but because it had its own parking lot in the middle of downtown Flushing!! So, as a child, it seemed pretty fancy to me.

Other Flushing Italian's, now long gone: Bacigalup (on Main, across from the library) and I-Forget-Its-Name (on Main, just south of Franklin). Anyone remember those?

Last, but not least, is Gloria’s Pizza (on Main, next to McDonalds). After school, my mates and I would always go for a slice. Is it really as good as I remember?

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  1. Yes, Bacigalup, there's a blast from the late-'70s past. On Main St., right near where the Jahn's used to be, if I remember correctly. As I recall the food was quite good, the place more up-to-date than the stodgy-feeling Old Roma. In mid-1979 I moved out of the area for a while, don't think it was around when I got back in '84. Or was it?

    Don't think I remember the other restaurant you mentioned, but didn't someone else post here recently about Gloria Pizza?

    12 Replies
    1. re: Helen
      s
      Steven Stern

      Oh yes, Baciagalup (thanks for the name: I was thinking about it and couldn't remember and it was driving me crazy) was definitely something a bit different from the standard Queens Italian-American. I remember it as dark and cave-like, and my 13-year-old self thought it tremendously classy. There was a big antipasto table, which was the source of my first frittata (I was amazed that cold eggs could taste so good!), and what I recall as really fine roasted eggplant. I remember rich, winey sauces, but what I remember most of all was "Stretch," an extraodinarily tall, thin waiter, who achieved a certain degree of fame for the grace and speed with which he lit patron's cigarettes. I think the restaurant's matches had a caricature of him, lighter in hand, in mid-leap. We moved out of the neighborhood in '79, too, and I think it might have closed by then. It didn't last long; it was too "real Italian"," or at least too "Manhattan," for its surroundings, most likely. We only went a few times; I think my parents thought it was pretentious or intimidating or something.

      The place near Franklin was called "La Gioconda." We lived next door and got take-out from there all the time. I don't remeber much about the food, other than the veal or chicken "Cordon Bleu," an immense crunchy fried cutlet filled with ham and cheese and served with lots of lemon wedges. The restaurant was a narrow space with booths along both walls and a few tables in the middle. There was a bar up front, and when I was waiting for our orders, the bartender would give me a ginger ale and I would sit and eavesdrop. So, while not necessarily a food milestone for me, this is definitely the place where I developed a taste for hanging out alone at bars...a good ten years before I hit drinking age.

      1. re: Steven Stern

        Too funny! I remember my first time at Bacigalup was on a date at the age of 16. That classy place made me feel so sophisticated! :-P

        When I brought a cigarette out of my purse there was the waiter with lighter and flame in hand. Boy, was I impressed!

        The place stayed opened until about 1990...I think.

        1. re: Maria

          WOW! All you folks are from Flushing? How come I never
          saw you while I was waiting "under the clock"?
          Flushing High, class of '64

          1. re: steve
            r
            Richard Halpern

            Well, you never saw me because I graduated from JHS 185 in 1977 and then moved out of the area.

            Here's another long forgotten (but not by me) restaurant in Flushing: Lums, on Northern Blvd. Great old-fashioned Chinese food!

            1. re: Richard Halpern
              l
              Lisa Antinore

              Lums!! I still dream about the BBQ beef squares that my family would begin all of our meals with.....

              1. re: Lisa Antinore

                And my family always used to have Lum's King
                Crab Soong on special occasions (after the
                egg drop soup and egg rolls of course).
                I'd pay a lot to duplicate that meal now.
                What great restaurant memories!.

                1. re: christina z

                  My worst dining experience probably to date (for the embarrassment I caused to my parents). While having Sunday dinner at Lum's, I insisted on ordering duck.
                  If you all remember the dining room was pretty dark. And even at 10 years old I couldn't quite make out what I was eating. But, I put a large chunk of pure duck fat in my mouth. EGADS....I don't remember if I was hustled out or we we're asked to leave.(Probably the later).I don't think we ever went back, my parents we're too embarrassed.

                  1. re: steve

                    Oh yeah - you think that's embarrassing. My dad
                    let me have my first martini there. He didn't
                    realize that I was drinking it on a completely
                    empty stomach (hadn't eaten since the day before).
                    I passed out right there at the table. My face
                    literally fell into my plate. That was one time
                    I was glad they kept the room so dark.
                    PS: Now that I'm all grown up I've become a champion
                    martini drinker.

                    1. re: steve

                      Who could ever forget the bar and Harry the bartender...............what a place for crab with rice noodles

                      1. re: Ken

                        I LOVED LUMS. THE LUM FAMILY WERE WONDERFUL. THEY WERE FRIENDS WITH MY GRANDPARENTS BOB(HELMUTH) & IDA. WE WENT THERE EVERY EASTER SINCE I WAS BORN. THEY WERE SO KIND AND WE ENJOYED EVERY MEAL WE EVER HAD THERE. I HAVE MANY PICTURES FROM THERE. HARRY WAS GREAT AND MR.LUM AND EVERYONE THERE.... JUST WONDERFUL MEMORIES. I HAVE NEVER FOUND A CHINESE RESTAURANT TO BE PART OF MY FAMILY TRADITIONS EVER AGAIN.
                        I MISS THEM AND THOSE SPECIAL TIMES AND GREAT FOOD, TOO.

                        1. re: WENDY

                          Same here. Cannot find a decent sit down Chinese Restaurant anymore, only take out.

                          I remember back in the 60's and 70's when smoking was still allowed I Restaurants, one time the waiter came out with our food with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. I couldn't believe it when an ash dropped into our meal. He joked and said, no extra charge.

                  2. re: Lisa Antinore

                    lived in Astoria late 60s...Friday drive to Lum's takeout...Ten bucks,egg rolls,fried rice and steak kew...WOW it was great....Bobby

        2. Gloria's Pizza! Wow! You mean I'm not the only
          one who remembers them?

          cz

          2 Replies
          1. re: christina z

            You're not the only one. I remember them well.

            Also, Old Roma Restaurant.

            1. re: roncella

              I remember both. I loved Gloria's because they made their pizzas on a wire screen. the best! My Mom and I would eat at the Old Roma at least once a month. The owner Jean was friends with my Mom & Dad. I miss those days!

          2. s
            Steve Drucker

            Ah, Old Roma.

            Is it still there? I ate there with my family all thru the '60's. Does anyone remember Ruth--the daughter who managed in the evenings, and the son who was going to medical school?

            And how about those mysterious back dining rooms?

            The last time I ate there was alone on a damp cold late winter afternoon around 1972. It wasn't quite the crack years yet back then, but already you could feel the vampires hovering.

            I parked my grimy gray 4-door '64 Chevy Bel-Air on the street. Concern for my personal safety gnawed at me as I walked purposefully, knowing-as only a city boy can--that I was in a neighborhood where I didn't belong, up to Old Roma's door in the shadows of the housing projects which towered just across the street.
            * * *
            Back in its heyday, we always ordered the side dishes of pasta with the 'Old Roma Sauce'--an amalgamated chicken, meat and mushroom 'gravy', well worth the extra dollar or two charged.

            Chowhounds in training that we were, we knew that the food wasn't world class, but the price was always righteous, the portions humongous and the veal, chicken or eggplant parmesan perfect.
            * * *
            Now living in Atlanta, I come to the NYC area often on business, and try to schedule late afternoon returns from LGA so as to enable pre-flight lunch in Queens.

            A few weeks ago I took my wife to Parkside before going to LGA. Then hardcore, dessert for me at the Lemon Ice King, because for the last six months I've been telling her about Italian Ices, and the small pleated white dixie cups into which they were (and Halleluyah!) still are scooped.

            I got not only my real lemon ice, but Debie's pictures of Corona streetlife, the bocci courts and the time machine pleated stainless steel Lemon Ice King storefront. Poor wife--she's on a diet, determined to get her body fat perfect, and forewent dessert.

            In the midst of all this bounty, we espied and marked for future reference the Corona Heights Pork store, said demarcation since reinforced by all the positive comments on this board about CPH.

            But that day in Corona I was really stuck: Even I couldn't manage lunch at Parkside, a sandwhich from CPH, and the Lemon Ice King for Dessert.

            Road warrior-wise, we've kind of settled on Corona for pre-airport lunch because its a straight 10 minute no-traffic shot back to the Hertz counter at LGA. We are, however, open to further suggestions...???

            BTW--all you fans of Parkside and CPH: there's an incredible Italian bakery right across 108th st from the Lemon Ice King. The cookies are sublime, and so is the sfogliatelle (even better than Calandra's of Newark and Fairfield NJ).

            And a LGA road warrior tip: If you get off the Grand Central at the main airport exit, then turn south towards Astoria Blvd, and go right (west) a block or two on Astoria Blvd, there's a decent (not great) pizza joint on the right, better by far than what you can get inside the airport. It's back door is opposite the Dollar Rent-A-Car lot on the avenue just north of Astoria Blvd.

            Does anyone know a better (that means very good or better) slice joint equally near LGA?

            10 Replies
            1. re: Steve Drucker

              That bakery across from Lemon Ice King is Baldi's which is also a neighborhood institution. If you can handle sugar shock try their cannolis which they fill while you're waiting. (Unlike most places that let filled cannolis sit snd get soggy). I'd match their cannolis against any other.
              The Corona Hts Pork Store is everything you've heard and more. Also a good choice for a hero would be Mama's Place a.k.a. Leo's Laticcini which is a few minutes away on 104th St.
              You have very good taste. You must be suffering in that white bread capital, Atlanta.

              1. re: buckeye
                s
                steve drucker

                thanks for the bakery name.

                You seem to know the area very well. Any good pizza places between there and LaGuardia Airport?

                Often, we just have time for a quick slice.

                1. re: steve drucker

                  I don't know of any pizza places there anymore. The area has become even more predominantly Hispanic so with the exception of that immediate area with the Parkside and the Lemon Ice King there aren't a lot of Italian places left.
                  By the way I hope you had your ices sitting in the park watching bocci. They taste better that way.
                  One more note about Baldi's bakery. My friend had a charlotte russe there that he raved about. I prefer to stick with the cannolis.
                  Nothing like that in Atlanta, is there??

                  1. re: BUCKEYE
                    s
                    Steve Drucker

                    Whatever the reason, Atlanta is a bakery wasteland.

                    re Italian ices, out of the blue about six months ago I started rhapsodizing to my Atlanta born wife about the pleated white cups, my favorite flavors etc...memory stuff, what couples and friends fill idle space with. I really didn't know if any of it still existed, except in memory.

                    But on a trip over July 4th, we found Italian ices from Sag Harbor to Corona, most pretty good, every one in those fantastic pleated white cups.

                    1. re: Steve Drucker

                      The Lemon Ice King does send their ices to other locations now since Peter Benfaremo took on a partner who was trying to modernize the operation (THEY WERE REPORTED ON THIS SITE TO HAVE SUPPLIED PEOPLE WITH NAPKINS AND SPOONS!!!!!!!!!!). I'll ask if they have customers in Atlanta.
                      I hope you ate the ices in the park while watching bocci. They taste better that way.
                      The first time I was at The Lemon Ice King they were located in the garage next door in the early 60s.

                      1. re: BUCKEYE

                        People! When conversation drifts, please re-title the thread! In this case, it should have been re-titled "The Lemon Ice King" two messages back (note: it's never too late for a respondent in a thread to change the title, so everybody please help out with this!).

                        Actually, when topic drifts, it's even better to simply start a new thread (so that it doesn't turn into one of those huge, spidery, ever changing monster threads that clog up our index and are difficult for those reading along to follow). Just post a reply of "see me in the 'XXX' thread on the 'XXX' board" to the thread you're spinning off from!

                        The Management

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          the place is "the Lemon Ice King of Corona" in Corona, Queens on the corner of 108st. and 52nd ave. I recommend the almond flavor but all are good.

              2. re: Steve Drucker

                Just another note- If you ever watch THE KING OF QUEENS TV show on CBS you'll see a scene at the Lemon Ice King in the opening credits. The stars are getting ices and as he turns around he drops the ices. Knowing Pete Benfaremo (I hope he was there when you and your wife went) he didn't offer to replace. Hell, he still doesn't have napkins.

                  1. re: Steve Drucker

                    Amore in strip mall next to Whitesting bowling alley.. you remember that place, don't you?
                    It is as good as Gloria's ever was. Hot pies come out of the oven every three too minutes...
                    I live on the west coast and when I found this place 15yrs ago I was in gastro-heaven.
                    Trust me you- will love the slice.. no more than 5 min to LGA.

                  2. s
                    Steve Plotnicki

                    Back in the early '60's there was a pizza place on Graham Avenue off of Scholes Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (near my grandmothers) that made pizza in the Gloria style and as far as I know they were the originators of the style. In the late 60's and early 70's, I'm not sure if it was the same owners or people who worked for them but, pizza places based on the same style pizza (sweet sauce) opened on Jamaica Avenue near 165th Street and then Main Street, Flushing(Gloria). The only other place I know of that made that style of pizza is the place in the Pathmark shopping center off of Linden Place. That place was originally opened by an ex-Gloria employee. Unfortunately, it was nowhere as good as the real thing. I'm not sure if they still make pizza in that style there.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Steve Plotnicki
                      s
                      Susan O"Grady

                      What is Gloria pizza? Just sweet sauce? I've heard of Grandma's pizza, but never Gloria....
                      Ah the joy of being a Chowhound....your education never ends!!
                      SO

                      1. re: Susan O"Grady
                        s
                        Steve Plotnicki

                        Susan-Gloria Pizza was on the west side of Main Street just south of Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens. It was there throughout the 70's and part of the 80's. I'm not sure the exact date of its demise. Its exact location was next door to the ill-fated Wendy's that had that terrible shooting earlier this year. Gloria was unique in that it had sweet tasting sauce, a thin crust and was not overly cheesy. Since it was in such a busy location (first subway stop), they always had a fresh pie coming out of the oven and reheated pizza was a rarity.

                        It was one of the few pizza places I knew of that sold the ingredients seperately and I made many a Gloria pizza in my house in Queens.

                        1. re: Steve Plotnicki

                          To Astorman: is this what you spend your workday doing? Thinking of days gone by hanging out in Flushing, getting a slice or two at Gloria's Pizza? I do have to agree though that Gloria's pizza was the best. If you are looking for good pizza in Queens, you may want to try Brothers on Horace Harding. Beats food at Zum Stammtish anyday.

                          : )

                          1. re: Steve Plotnicki

                            Yes, always a short line to grab up every slice as it came out of the oven.

                      2. Gloria's Pizza is now reincarnated in Forest Hills right next to the Midway Theater on queens blvd.
                        by the way.... does anyone recall the name of the pizza place that was next to the Prospect movie theater - that was on Main Street just past the el at Roosevelt Ave
                        Thanks!
                        Ronnie Glick
                        shaived@aol.com

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: RonnieG

                          I go to Amore when passing by and still enjoy it as an excellent slice joint. I do not remember Gloria's though I probably passed it, and Gertz on my way to..............

                          The Holly Inn on Holly and Kissena. Great old Italian tavern restaurant. Long and rectangular, split in half with a bar on one side and restaurant on the other. Seats along the wall divider or the other side with the windows. Excellent pizza and sandwiches with pitchers of beer. Was a bodega now a Shabu Shabu restaurant. The place where I learned to love the "parmesan" hero, toasted bread.

                          1. re: RonnieG

                            Ronnie the pizza shop next to the prospect movie theater was the triple nickle