The latest book obsession over at Q’Stoner is Queens: A Culinary Passport by Astoria-based food writer Andrea Lynn. The book is an awesome guide to eating in Queens, highlighting more than 40 diverse restaurants and food stands throughout the borough. There are also recipes inspired by Queens dishes, interviews with chefs and local foodies, and suggestions for under-the-radar grocery stores, markets and delis.
We spoke to Andrea about her experience writing the book, tips on navigating unfamiliar dining scenes, her top restaurant recommendations and more. You can purchase her book online on Amazon or in person at Astoria Bookshop.
Brownstoner Queens: What neighborhood do you live in and how did you end up there?
Andrea Lynn: I live in Astoria. My story for arriving into the neighborhood isn’t super original: I already knew a handful of people in Astoria, plus it was close to Manhattan for an easy work commute.
BQ: Where did the idea for a Queens-based food book originate?
AL: Well, I think Brooklyn gets a lot of hype for its trendy food scene, as does Manhattan, of course. Queens has such a fabulously diverse food culture which doesn’t get the merit it deserves. While specific Queens restaurants certainly get a bit of buzz, I felt the borough as whole doesn’t get the culinary love it deserves. So I had the idea to showcase the irresistible, ethnic food of Queens.
BQ: How would you describe the food scene in Queens right now? What was most important for you to capture in your book?
AL: I live off of 30th Avenue in Astoria, and it kind of blows my mind the amount of trendy restaurants and fancy cocktails in Astoria versus when I first moved here seven years ago. Same for Long Island City. But as far as the book, I wanted to capture a slice of the ethnic variety. A Culinary Passport isn’t just a catchy title but in Queens, you really feel like you’re traveling and experiencing so many other cultures.
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, operating out of Maspeth since 2012, has signed a lease on a warehouse space in Ridgewood. Bridge and Tunnel was an extremely small endeavor in Maspeth — just a nano brewery brewing 1.5 barrel batches. The much-expanded space in Ridgewood will allow for more beer production as well as a bar serving those beers. Here’s a snippet from the announcement on Facebook: “With the nano system operating in all of 150 square feet, this new space will allow for more production, as well as a brewery that you all can actually come by to visit, have a beer, shoot the shite, etc.”
Beers made by Bridge and Tunnel include a dark German style wheat beer, a brown ale, a milk and oatmeal stout, and a chipotle porter. Currently you can drink them at places like MP Taverna, Open Door, The Queens Kickshaw and Claret (here’s the full list of bars). There’s no exact opening date for the brewery yet, but the owner has roots in Ridgewood and hopes to get things moving in the neighborhood in the next few months.
The owners of Bareburger, the successful mini-chain that started in Astoria, have special plans in the works for the old Athens Cafe space at 32-07 30th Avenue. Athens Cafe closed earlier this month, with lots of rumors surrounding what would replace it. But this week, We Heart Astoria, Astoria Post and DNAinfo have all shared the exciting news that the Bareburger is planning an “exciting new concept” here. Here’s what they told WAH: “The Athens cafe location has been an iconic part of the Astoria community for years. Bareburger group saw an opportunity to inject some new life and an exciting new concept into a space abound with possibilities.”
There are no specific details yet, as they are very early in the planning process. All we know is that this will be a totally new venture for the Bareburger folks in Astoria. GMAP
Just last week, the owners of Bia67, on South 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, signed a deal for an expansion to Long Island City. Bia67 is taking over the commercial space at 23-10 Jackson Avenue, the old Quiznos located between Pearson and Davis Streets. (The Quiznos closed earlier this year.) The owners of Bia67 plan to build out a Vietnamese restaurant and bar this winter. The Brooklyn menu includes dim sum, noodles, banh mi sandwiches, pho and more.
Oren Friedman, of DY Realty Services, brokered the deal and has this to say about the restaurant’s arrival: “It will add some depth to the cuisine of the neighborhood and should make a nice lunch and after work spot for drinks.” Seems like a better addition to the neighborhood than Quiznos, that’s for sure. GMAP
This Thursday, November 20th, Woodside on the Move is hosting its third annual “Taste of Woodside.” The event will feature food samples from as many as 20 restaurants hailing from Woodside and Western Queens. Food will include American, Spanish, Turkish, Thai and Mediterranean cuisine; participating restaurants include F. Ottomanelli Burgers, La Adelita Restaurant and Takesushi.
The event lasts from 6 to 9 pm at the St. Sebastian School Auditorium. Tickets cost $25.
Armondo’s Italian Restaurant, of Jackson Heights, is planning to reopen after a five-alarm fire at the Bruson Building displaced the business this spring. DNAinfo writes that Armondo’s purchased Trieste, a longtime Italian restaurant located at 73-16 Northern Boulevard. The Armondo’s website shares more details: “We will be taking over the restaurant on January 1 2015. It will be undergoing a quick renovation and will be open for business on February 1, 2015. This is the plan.”
The owner of Trieste is selling the business due to health reasons. He has run it for 36 years.
Long Island City is getting its first Bareburger (the mini chain is based in Astoria) in just a few months. We Heart LIC posted an update on the under-construction space, located at 48-19 Vernon Boulevard. Turns out this location will get an updated menu, one that is now being used at the 31st Street Astoria Bareburger. It’s more vegetarian friendly, with a selection of four veggie burgers and six different salads.
Cranky’s/1682 French Louisiana previously occupied the space, and felt a hit to business after a nearby Dunkin Donuts opened. As We Heart LIC says, ” I don’t think Bareburger has anything to worry about when it comes to that.”
New York Times restaurant review critic Pete Wells spotlighted Dumpling Galaxy this week, awarding it one star. The Flushing eatery is the work of Helen You, who ran the cozy Tianjin Dumpling House for the past eight years. At Dumpling Galaxy, she offers 100 varieties of dumplings, ranging from cilantro with minced lamb, shrimp, scallops and crab meat to pumpkin and black sesame (for dessert). Wells praises many — but not all — of the dumpling varieties, as well as the Northern China, Hunan and Fujian entrees. Here’s a great quote from the review:
I’ve eaten entire meals that delivered less flavor than a single one of Ms. You’s dumplings stuffed with terrific little meatballs of duck and shiitakes. And if those hadn’t cheered me up, the fried dumplings would. Ms. You pours watery cornstarch into the pan, which bubbles and browns into a shatteringly thin, dumpling-studded pancake. Cracking that crust, I felt like the happiest guy in the galaxy.
This Friday night, beer and cocktail bar Sekend Sun is opening at 32-11 Broadway, between 32nd and 33rd Streets. We Heart Astoria reports that the owners come from Ba’sik bar in Brooklyn. Here, they’ll offer seasonal cocktails with fresh ingredients as well as beer and cider, with selections from Singlecut Brewery. The food menu includes snacks like hand-cut tater tots, buffalo-fried oysters, and main courses of pumpkin gnocchi and shrimp and grits.
From the photo, the interior design looks great — the owners promise whitewashed walls, exposed brick and lots of wood and metal. The bar’s up front with a dining room in back, and a back garden will open when the weather warms up. We Heart Astoria helpfully explains where the name comes from, saying it “references giving birth to their second bar (and both gentlemen happen to be the second sons in their respective families).”
Mundo, the popular Astoria restaurant relocating to the Paper Factory Hotel in LIC, announced its grand opening for Friday, November 14th. The black tie event will feature passed hors d’oeuvres, drinks and live entertainment. The event is free, but you must RSVP here by November 10th. Then the weekend follows with a special pre fixe dinner on Saturday and tapas and cocktails in Mundo’s lounge on Sunday.
The space inside the Paper Factory Hotel looks great and the opening (which was initially scheduled for this summer) has been highly anticipated. Here’s a word on the food, from Mundo’s Facebook: “Mundo’s menu highlights the best of earthy Mediterranean and unique global flavors with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients from local vendors and farms, and homemade dishes.”