New York rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Fresh Falafel Favorites Around Queens

janie’s falafel of choice comes from Hapisgah, a kosher steakhouse whose sprawling menu also ventures into Italian and Middle Eastern territory. Always made fresh, the falafel are a bright herbaceous green on the inside and served with killer hot sauce. Also recommended: Greek-style eggplant salad, Persian-style chicken kababs, and house-made hummus (try it with mushrooms).

Naomi’s feeds the Queens College crowd with crunchy falafel–six of them in a pita for just $4. Nonstop lines, especially at lunch, guarantee that they’re fried fresh.

In Sunnyside, Turkish grill and pizzeria Mangal also turns out freshly rolled falafel to order and folds them into sandwiches with a smear of hummus. Be sure to pay the extra $1 for house-baked pide bread otherwise you’ll get only a lame pita.

Others recommend the falafel at two spots in Forest Hills: Pahal Zan, a hole-in-the-wall next to the LIRR overpass, and On the Grill.

Hapisgah [Kew Garden Hills]
147-25 Union Tpke., between 147th and 149th Sts., Kew Garden Hills, Queens

Naomi’s Kosher Pizza [Kew Garden Hills]
68-28 Main St., between 68th Rd. and 68th Dr., Kew Garden Hills, Queens

Mangal Kebab [Sunnyside]
46-20 Queens Blvd., between 46th and 47th Sts., Sunnyside, Queens

Pahal Zan [Forest Hills]
106-12 71st Ave., just north of the LIRR tracks, Forest Hills, Queens

On the Grill [Forest Hills]
98-102 Queens Blvd., between 66th Ave. and 66th Rd., Forest Hills, Queens

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Any Good Falafel in Queens ??

Pizza Outside the Box at Layla Jones

The pizza at Layla Jones defies easy categorization, but hounds aren’t letting that keep them from enjoying it. “Not what I consider your typical New York pizza,” says Nehna, who describes a pie that’s square like a Sicilian, yet also thin and crispy in an un-Sicilian way. Whatever. The crust is tasty, the sauce thick and delicious, the toppings fresh and well balanced (winning combos include sweet sausage-caramelized onion, meatball-roasted pepper, and artichoke-roasted tomato). The result, concludes BGRose, is “a definite step up from your typical neighborhood pizza joint.”

Takeout and delivery orders don’t fare well, possibly because of the thinness of the crust. BGRose brought a pie home, a trip of just a few minutes, “and even though I saw it come fresh from the oven, the whole thing was a soggy mess.”

Besides full-size pies from the oven (dubbed “Brooklyn Classic”), they make personal pizzas on a charcoal grill (no reports yet on these). And beyond pizza, look for decent pressed sandwiches–grilled chicken, goat cheese, arugula and tomato is a standout–and better-than-average pastas such as pappardelle with spicy shrimp, feta and spinach.

Layla Jones [Cobble Hill]
formerly Campobello
214 Court St., between Warren and Baltic, Brooklyn

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New pizza place on Court St–Layla Jones

Black Pearl Resurfaces; and Other News

Black Pearl, a New England-style seafood house that enjoyed a brief but promising run in 2005, is back. The difference is that in its first go-round, it shared space–somewhat uncomfortably–with an East Village bar. Now it has its very own dining room on 26th Street.

Early reports praise seafood chowder, deftly cooked clams and fries, and a terrific wild blueberry crumble. Lobster rolls, as before, are unorthodox–just lightly seasoned and buttered chunks of lobster with little or no mayonnaise. The menu–longer than the 2005 version–also includes salads; a raw bar; lobster pot pie; fried, steamed, or roasted seafood; and clam, shrimp, or oyster rolls.

In other news, two neighborhood landmarks have called it a day. La Rosita in Morningside Heights, a Cuban hangout beloved for lechon (roast pig), hearty breakfast plates, and cafe con leche, closed at the end of December when its chef-owner retired. And Jade Mountain, an old-school Chinese joint that had dished up chow mein, egg foo young, and other Cantonese American classics to generations of East Villagers since 1931, shut its doors in mid-January. “End of an era,” laments mshpook. “It was like stepping back in time.”

In Nolita, casual Cantonese spot Jazzi Wok has changed hands and re-emerged as Funky Thai Cafe. No reports yet on the chow.

Black Pearl [Chelsea]
37 W. 26th St., between Broadway and 6th Ave., Manhattan

La Rosita [Upper West Side]
2809 Broadway, between W. 108th and 109th Sts., Manhattan

Jade Mountain Restaurant [East Village]
197 2nd Ave., between E. 12th and 13th Sts., Manhattan

Funky Thai Cafe [Lower East Side]
formerly Jazzi Wok
176 Mott St., at Broome, Manhattan

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Looking for Update on The Black Pearl
The Black Pearl
Cheap eats in SoHo
Central American Food–Where’s Breakfast?
Please help me introduce my girlfriend to NYC style Chinese food!

For Fans of O’Rourke’s Diner, a Heartfelt Good Morning

Finally, some good news for fans of O’Rourke’s Diner, a hound landmark destroyed by fire in August. Its chef and owner, Brian O’Rourke, is putting in breakfast shifts at the Coppertop, a year-old eatery a few blocks south of his gutted diner. For those who’ve missed Brian’s omelettes, breads, and unflagging positive vibes, he’s at the stove from 7 to 11:30 a.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays.

O’Rourke’s was not insured, which has complicated its recovery from the fire. But its hungry supporters have been raising money to rebuild the place, and they’re aiming to reopen sometime in summer. For occasional progress reports, check out the fan website.

Coppertop Bar and Grill [Middlesex County]
344 Main St., between Court and Washington, Middletown, CT

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RIP O’Rourke’s

Levain – Oatmeal Scone Paradise on the Upper West Side

“Heaven,” suggests Dave Feldman, “is a warm oatmeal scone at Levain.”

Levain Bakery [Upper West Side]
167 W. 74th St., between Amsterdam and Columbus Aves., Manhattan

Levain Bakery [Suffolk County]
354 Montauk Hwy., Wainscott, NY

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Fruit & Nut Scones

Bewitching Yogurt at Likitsakos on the Upper East Side

The stuff of dreams–that’s what ballulah calls the rich, creamy Greek-style yogurt at Likitsakos Market. Sweetened with honey, flavored with fresh fruit (pear, berries, apple, nectarine, and passion fruit, among others), it’s premium priced at $3 for 8 ounces, but well worth the splurge, ballulah swears.

Likitsakos Market [Upper East Side]
1174 Lexington Ave., between E. 80th and 81st Sts., Manhattan

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Symposium–UWS Greek

Liuzzi’s – Cheese Lovers’ Destination in North Haven

For the best cheese at Liuzzi’s, Louis is your guy. “Ask him about anything in the case,” urges gardencub. “He loves folks who love good cheese and are willing to try.” Ricotta, mozzarella, caciocavallo and basket cheese, among others, are produced in house. Ravioli made with Liuzzi’s smoked ricotta flat out kills, gardencub adds. Alongside the house cheeses is a wide selection of imports. And beyond the cheese department, hounds recommend olives and house-cured meats.

Liuzzi Cheese [New Haven County]
322 State St., between School Ln. and Sackett Point Rd., North Haven, CT

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Good cheese east-of-the-river?

Tacos Jaliscos – a Sure Thing at Belmont

Belmont Park has the ponies, but the smart money is on the truck. Tacos Jaliscos, which parks across Plainfield Avenue from the racetrack, turns out nicely seasoned beef, chorizo, chicken, and al pastor tacos, just $1.25 apiece, reports profjmm. Add-ons include beans, onions, cilantro, and two salsas, a green one and a killer red one. Also on the menu: burritos and refreshing agua fresca.

Tacos Jaliscos [Nassau County]
Plainfield Ave., north of Hempstead Tpke., Elmont, NY

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taco truck in elmont

At Devin Tavern, Waffles and Other Brunch Bites

Sunday brunchers can enjoy a near-perfect waffle at Devin Tavern: slightly fluffy, slightly browned, with time-delay deliciousness in the batter. “If it were a wine,” writes kathryn, “you’d say it finished well.” It comes with an exceptionally fresh fruit compote–raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, green apple, pineapple, and melon are a typical combo. Also: perilously luscious strawberry butter. “Be careful, it eats like ice cream,” the waiter warned, and kathryn happily agrees.

Other recommended brunch bites at this comfortable upscale joint: sweet/smoky pork maple sausage, crisp yet juicy thin-sliced bacon, and a breadbasket highlighted by moist, agreeably dense blueberry muffins.

Devin Tavern [Tribeca]
363 Greenwich St., near Franklin, Manhattan

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Devin Tavern Brunch

Corn-Blueberry Muffin Bliss at Tempo Presto

Look for moist, flavorful corn and wild blueberry muffins behind the takeout counter at Park Slope sandwich shop Tempo Presto. “Slammin,’” raves redgirl–and a deal at $1.85.

Tempo Presto [Park Slope]
256 5th Ave., between Carroll St. and Garfield Pl., Brooklyn

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Any great muffins in Brooklyn?