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Posts from the ‘Kew Gardens’ Category

Dani’s House of Pizza: Pesto Slice

Always the best part of getting my hair cut in Kew Gardens. @danishouseofpizza #queens4lyfe #pizza #queens #kewgardens

A photo posted by Krista Garcia (@goodiesfirst) on

Roughly every three months for roughly the past year I have Instagrammed a photo that looks almost exactly like the one above.

Dani’s slice is a fine slice. Of course it is a sweet slice (for the first time on this visit I noticed a female staffer in a t-shirt proudly stating #sweetsauce, yes, hashtag sweetsauce, so they are really owning it). But really I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the fabled pesto pie to make an appearance. One Saturday afternoon, the two teens in front of my got the last slices. I wasn’t mad. Other times I’ve been told it’ll be a 20 minute wait, and I always eat in, and eat slow, and I’ve yet to witness fresh pesto pie made or emerge from the oven.

dani's pesto slice

BUT this time as I was wrapping up, taking my last bites, having timed my beer perfectly, full, and needing to make it to the bus to Trader Joe’s before closing, out came the pesto. A big moon made of green cheese resting hot next to my arm.

I looked around, marveled that there were two women occupying the stools to my left, one who seemed lost and had traveled from the UES via the LIRR like a real journey on the way to a reading, which I did not know they did in Kew Gardens, the other in  a leather mini and a Hoegaarden with a glass who clearly knew what she was doing, and figured it was a sign. So, another slice, another beer, happy holidays. Soon we all had cheesy triangles speckled with basil and garlic, flopping on paper plates in front of us.

Dani’s House of Pizza * 81-28 Lefferts Blvd., Kew Gardens, NY


Dani’s House of Pizza

threeshovelDani’s is one of those institutions that also happens to be located in one of those Tudor buildings that still thrive in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens, lending it just that extra veneer of Queens charm. Brooklyn has classic pizza, too, obviously but not served in a corner Snow White cottage.

I’ve only come to know it recently after I’ve started getting my hair cut across the street at the suggestion of a young Montenegrin (or Macedonian? I always confuse the two) woman I met at a party last year when she learned I was moving to Jackson Heights. It’s great—the cut is only $25 (it’s double with a blowout, which is maybe more standard for ladies, but I don’t like them) and you can have a mimosa or cappuccino. It’s a salon not a barber shop.


dani's house of pizza slice

The plain slice is substantial. I originally thought I might wait it out for the pesto style I keep hearing about that wasn’t on display and never appeared in the 20 minutes or so I occupied a seat, but one slice was filling enough. The sauce is sweet, maybe too sweet for some tastes (counterbalance with an aggressive shake of chile flakes) and the mozzarella is laid on thick and melty, like kid pizza, you know, as if a grade school served pizza that actually tasted good.

dani's house of pizza beers

Pizza isn’t allowed in the dining room and the pizza operation itself isn’t more than a narrow takeout counter that happens to have six diner-style stools bolted down at the far end near the kitchen. The upside of snagging a seat is having more than soda with your slice. A pair of older women were nursing glasses of red wine, but beer is where it’s at. There’s a whole refrigerator filled with beers, most more exciting than what you’ll find at your local Queens bodega. A Gose brewed with coriander and sea salt from the Oregon coast? Sure, why not.

I wasn’t paying attention, but I’m pretty sure the slice and beer were $6. It’s hard to argue with that.

Now, I just need to go back and get that pesto slice. As soon as my hair needs a trim…

dani's house of pizza pete the dog

I referred to this handsome canine (that’s saying a lot coming from a cat lady) on Instagram as a pizza dog. It turns out his name is Pete. I don’t imagine his last name is Za, however.

Dani’s House of Pizza * 81-28 Lefferts Blvd., Kew Gardens, NY

Tu Casa

I’ve been posting these little what I ate missives for a decade now, and it took until August 2010 before Kew Gardens needed to be added as a category (I have been to Max & Mina but did not blog about it). Perhaps I should start focusing on the other lesser-knowns that I pass through, but never stop to eat: Homecrest, Marine Park, Maspeth and the like.

Unsung neighborhood dining usually goes hand in hand with another activity. The impetus for this excursion was finding a modern multiplex to watch a summer blockbuster without having to go to New Jersey to beat the crowds. An 11:45pm showing of Inception at Glendale's The Shops at Atlas Park would  hopefully do the trick.

But I also really wanted to eat Peruvian food and to branch out from the Jackson Heights usuals. I would hardly say the chowhoundy stretch of Roosevelt Avenue is overrun with foodie interlopers (Sriphrapahi being the exception); the area is always rich with unhyped possibilities. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to explore less concentrated patches of the boroughs even if they’re not particularly known for their cuisine.

I had my doubts about Tu Casa (do Latinos even live in Kew Gardens?) and they were not assuaged by the lackluster one-block strip of businesses amidst the brick co-ops, just beyond the Jackie Robinson Parkway offramp. (My low expectations were also why I brought my new point-and-shoot that I still haven’t mastered instead of the dSLR.) The outdoor seating (neither this tail end of Metropolitan Avenue nor its origin in Williamsburg feel ideally suited to alfresco dining) was completely filled, though. The two indoor rooms were also bustling. A good sign.

We settled into a two-seater (my only beef with the restaurant was that they were very strict about twosomes being put at small square tables. We always order for four, though, and it creates havoc. Just as I predicted, they ended up not being able to fit all the plates, bottles, glasses and pitcher on our table) just as band began setting up in the front window. I had not been expecting Stevie Wonder covers in Spanish.

Tu casa ceviche mixto

I bummed James out by requesting the ceviche mixto when he really wanted the salchipapas. The octopus, shrimp and fish dressed in lime juice (I always want to add fish sauce and more spice to make it Thai-esque) was my attempt at creating a mildly healthier meal.

Tu casa pollo a la brasa

We ordered the Lo Grande de Tu Casa, equivalent to the matador combo at Pio Pio, and the food turned out to be very similar to that rotisserie chicken chain, right down to the creamy green sauce that you can’t help but slather on everything. Here, you also get a plastic squirt bottle of a citrusy-garlic mojo sauce. It was the perfect condiment for my usual side of choice, yuca fries.

Tu casa yuca fries

I happen to love salty, savory pollo a la brasa, no matter which country it originates from. It was my benchmark, and Tu Casa excelled. Unlike at Pio Pio, though, you’re not relegated to this specialty. They also offer a variety of “Spanish” food including grilled steaks, stewed chicken and pernil, as well as Chinese-y Peruvian dishes like fried rice and the infamous French fry-laden salchipapas and lomo saltado. There’s always a next time, though it might be 2020 before I dine in Kew Gardens again. When we left at 10:45, the outdoor tables were still packed, a non-sleepy anomaly.

* * *

We arrived at the Atlas Park mall in time to grab at beer at Manor Oktoberfest, kitty corner from the theater. The only people up and out in Glendale after 11pm appeared to be under 30. Smoking and drinking at outdoors mall picnic tables feels odd, but you have to take your subway-less Queens entertainment where you can find it.

TheaterfeetI hate to be the crotchety old lady bemoaning the declining manners of today’s youth, but when did it become acceptable to take off your shoes in movie theaters and put your sock feet and dirty flip flops up on the chair in front of you?

Tu Casa * 119-05 Metropolitan Ave., Kew Gardens, NY