Photos by Tracy Wang
The delectably artful spread of small plates laid out at Queens…A Taste of the World was fitting for the borough that bills itself as the most ethnically diverse county in the country.
Raw oysters, pulled pork and sushi—among many other traditional and reimagined American and international dishes—graced the plates of foodies, as about two dozen Queens restaurants and budding food businesses served up their best culinary creations at the ninth annual tasting event on May 10 at Citi Field, the home of the Mets. The event was sponsored by the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
Leo’s Latticini, better known as Mama’s of Corona, tempted visitors with sandwiches stacked high with peppered ham, salami, freshly made mozzarella, roasted pepper and mouthwatering marinated mushrooms. The meaty sandwiches—secured with speared green olives—practically burst through the slices of semolina bread.
Hungry attendees quickly snapped up the spice-seared filet mignon carpaccio from Valentino’s on the Green, of Bayside. The translucent slices of raw beef, topped with black truffle vinaigrette and served with a mixed green salad and a Parmesan crisp, were surprisingly flavorful, despite their diminutive, sliver-thin appearance.
“Nobody else does it quite like this,” said Valentino’s cook Michele Rizzatti. “Each flavor really compliments each other.”
Mulan, of Flushing, offered eel salad wrapped in smoked salmon and a second dish, mushroom-stuffed chicken. The salmon, though not particularly impressive on its own, perfectly complemented the delightfully tangy and citrusy fish salad.
The famed Ottomanelli Brothers, which opened in the year 1900 and now has six locations in Flushing and Manhattan, had five flavors of mini burgers on display. The plump, juicy spinach and cheese burger was heavy—yet pleasantly peppery.
Strawberry’s Sports Grill, in Douglaston, dished up shredded pulled pork and championship chili, a barbecued smoked brisket and ground beef simmered with beans and tomato chunks.
The coconut shrimp and the flan from Cocina Latina Bar & Grill, in Kew Gardens, were also hits. The shrimp, coated with shredded coconut, was tender and sweet without being overbearingly saccharine. The flan was creamy and buttery and literally melted in our mouths. The thin layer of shiny caramel on top set off this tasty treat.
All sorts of sweets and cookies covered Cascon Baking Company’s table. The Whitestone bakery offered up cookies, including a tricolor version lined with a thin layer of smooth chocolate, and four types of cheesecake. The Oreo cheesecake, studded with cookie chunks, was creamy, tangy and oh so good.
London Lennie’s, a longtime family institution in Rego Park, set up a raw bar, complete with delectable, slippery oysters from as far away as Canada’s Prince Edward Island, gangly cooked snow crab claws and plump, pink shrimp—a spread that made our seafood lovers swoon.
“Oysters are all special,” said executive chef Jeffery Baruch lovingly, while his staff shucked the mollusks behind the restaurant’s display table.
The plátano relleno from Elmhurst’s Pop Diner packed a delicious meaty punch. The sweet plantain was stuffed with moist, tangy, seasoned ground beef.
“We try to accommodate everybody,” said general manager Angel Almonte of the restaurant’s Latin American and Caribbean cuisine.
The mixed vegetable sushi roll from Two Steak and Sushi Den, of New Hyde Park, was refreshing and crunchy, stuffed with asparagus, cucumber slivers, avocado, yamagobo (pickled burdock root) and daikon (Asian radish).
As East Elmhurst-based Pavilion Grille’s executive chef, Phillipe Cruse, offered delicate mustard seed-crusted scallops, served in a cantaloupe sauce with applewood-smoked bacon, he noted that the dish’s flavors reminded him of youthful summers spent on eastern Long Island. This refined yet all-American dish evoked warm-weather seaside memories for him.
eXo, a new Greek and Mediterranean bistro in Whitestone, served up Greek deviled eggs stuffed with whipped feta, unstuffed grape leaves with Swiss chard and tzatziki sauce and homemade potato chips.
“We take the old-
The Caribbean salad from Riverview Restaurant and Lounge, of Long Island City, ended our night on a satisfyingly sweet note. Ripe morsels of papaya, mango, avocado and pineapple were topped with shrimp and a chili vinegar sauce that lent just the right amount of heat and tang to the tropical fruit.
Like many of the dishes we tried, the salad’s flavors were familiar but had an innovative, international twist. That combination, which sums up Queens’ effortless mix of cultures, is easy to love.
Additional reporting by Irving DeJohn and Tracy Wang