64-66 Dry Harbor Road
The thing that always impresses us about this neighborhood deli is how absolutely well they know their customers, even to the point of knowing how each and every one of them takes their coffee – and actually begin pouring it the moment they enter the store! It’s the kind of personal customer service and down-home friendliness that helps breed customer loyalty from generation to generation and just happens to be exactly the kind of thing we need more of in our neighborhoods, especially given some of the tough circumstances we’ve all been forced to deal with lately. A tip of the cap, then, to Louise Saieva and her staff – and a heartfelt thank-you!
69-07 Grand Avenue
Okay, it’s just a pizzeria, but there are far too many pizzerias in our area that pride themselves on gruff customer relations, almost to the point of rudeness. It’s probably what makes the upbeat energy and friendly smiles of JOEY’S PIZZA stand out, especially in a city with more than its fair share of pizzerias. (Of course, the fact that their sesame seed crusts – especially their Margarita Pizza – are to die for too, well that probably helps as well!) In any case, an outing at JOEY’S PIZZA is always a pleasure, and we probably should mention, since we’re talking about service here – as far as delivery goes, JOEY’S always manages to be prompt and get your pie there piping hot, something which continues to impress us every time!
106-12 71st Avenue
Ironically, one of the best places to find great service in Forest Hills is also one of the smallest. This cozy falafel house serves up some of the best kosher food you are ever going to enjoy (we love the Lamb Kebab Pita and the Turkey Shawarma Pita, by the way, as well as the Moroccan Carrots!). But it’s the way your hosts Barry and company give such personal attention to each and every order, keeping their lunchtime line moving, and making each customer feel as if they are the most important, as they put together your Pita as per your individual specifications… Cabbage? Hummus? Baba Ganoush? Hot Sauce? It’s the kind of experience that gets you to make a point of stopping in again and again and again.
89 Conselyea Street
Looking for a top-notch dining experience – but one that doesn’t require a trip to Manhattan? Regular readers of these pages know what big fans we are of the food at DESTEFANO’S, but it’s also the charm of the place and the bonhomie exhibited by husband and wife Joe and Eleanor Donatelli that makes family after family consider it their favorite restaurant. Whether you’re a former resident of Brooklyn, a current resident of same, or just an out and out fan of the Borough of Kings, count on DESTEFANO’S to provide you with an evening of anecdotal goodwill and old-fashioned neighborly hospitality. And as your Veal Chop arrives, or your Chicken Cordon Bleu, or your Porterhouse – all served with impeccable presentation by a waitstaff that doesn’t miss a trick – it’s hard not to keep thinking to yourself, “Wow, this really is the place to be!”
60-06 Woodside Avenue
Woodside can be a rather dreary neighborhood sometimes, what with the elevated 7 train blocking off the sun from so many establishments. But take a stroll inside the WOODSIDE CAFÉ some time, and enjoy a clean and bright oasis of calm that just happens to serve up one of the best breakfasts in Queens. We love everything about the WOODSIDE CAFÉ – the friendliness and attentiveness of the hostesses and waitstaff; the nice-looking upholstery that gives our booth some extra special charm; and the retro-futuristic dinnerware upon which our meal is served, but especially those coffee mugs. If you’ve never been to the WOODSIDE CAFÉ, make sure you linger over a cup of joe or an Irish Breakfast here some sunny morning. It’s the perfect way to start off your day, and you’ll be mighty glad you did.
KIDS FUN HOUSE
62-73 Fresh Pond Road
It’s not just that KIDS FUN HOUSE is a bright, clean, colorful environment for your kids to play in – it’s that it’s actually one of the few such establishments to go the extra mile to ensure their parents’ comfort, as well. Not a surprise really, given the hospitality background of proprietor Aga Dojlidko. While your young ones are frolicking about inside KIDS FUN HOUSE’s brightly colored indoor playground, or perhaps enjoying themselves on their fantastic triple slide, you actually get to relax and observe from any number of nicely appointed wooden tables and chairs nearby, even going so far as to enjoy a cup of what is some pretty darn good coffee, in our humble opinion. Raising kids is hard enough these days, but when the incredibly engaging and hard-working waitstaff make it a priority to make your experience here such a pleasant one, that certainly goes a long way towards making you a regular customer.
33-07 36th Avenue
Former truffle-purveyor Riccardo Romero calls the restaurant he and his wife run a café, but make no mistake, there is some big-time restaurant flavor here, and worthy of any size venue for that matter. Still, it’s the coziness of the place, and the pride of ownership the Romeros so clearly demonstrate, that makes you feel like you’re one of the family the moment you walk in. Especially when a nation’s cuisine just happens to be new to you – and when a place like the AREPAS CAFÉ serves such a tremendous variety of savory dishes! – it certainly helps to have someone as avuncular as Romero to serve as your guide as you decide between the Catira Arepa (shredded chicken with cheese) or maybe the Cazon (baby shark) or maybe even the Mami (Venezuelan roast pork, avocado, and cheese). Then again, sometimes that turns out to be a list you’re compiling for a return visit!
65-07 Woodhaven Boulevard
Ordinarily, a 7-ELEVEN is probably not an establishment you would single out for great service. Which is probably why this well-run Rego Park incarnation stands out all the more. Three things definitely stick out in our minds – one, the place is always clean and tidy; two, the lines always seem to move pretty efficiently, regardless of whether one or two registers are open; and three, the coffee counter is freshly stocked, organized, and incredibly clean, no matter the hour of the day. (Which, when you’re open 24 hours, is definitely saying something!) Bravo, bravo, bravo to a hard-working staff who probably never get shown any appreciation.
Painter, Home Interiors
(516) 424-4061 (cell)
Need a painter? Call a "Carpenter," that's what we say here at "BEST OF THE BEST"! No job is too big or small for this enterprising and accommodating young craftsman, and for years now, we've been impressed at not just his expedience and efficiency but also his tremendous attention to detail, which is exactly what you want when it comes to making your home look great. By the way, Andrew's schedule tends to fill up rather quickly, but if you're looking for the best, plan ahead - it's well worth it!
73-01 Austin Street
You’re not likely to find a salon with more upbeat energy than MICCICHE no matter how hard you try. Lorenzo Micciche and staff are out and out artists when it comes to hair coloring, blow outs, and their unique thermal relaxation technique for hair straightening. And their spa services – facials, waxing, Swedish body massage, and more – will so impress you, you’ll forget you’re still in the heart of Forest Hills. Where MICCICHE truly shines, though, is how capably they cater to bridal parties, anywhere from styling and highlights to make-up consultation, all in the interests of making your special day as special as you’d dreamed it would be.
64-56 Dry Harbor Road
Look, what can we say, there are a lot of bartenders around town who do their utmost to make their employers your favorite watering hole. And there’s a whole host of folks at DANNY BOY’S who definitely give the Middle Village pub the kind of charm that’s made it a local favorite for years. However, we’ve got to give particular props to one of our favorite barkeeps there, George Gibbons, who’s as quick with a self-deprecating quip about his beloved METS or the latest neighborhood happenings as he is with your Stella or Hoegaarden or your Wednesday night wings. It’s the kind of fun and friendly vibe that makes regular patrons of us all, and truly calls to mind that familiar “CHEERS” theme, “You want to go where everybody knows your name.”
GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY
69-25 Grand Avenue
We’re definitely big fans here of the friendly and neighborly staff at the GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY. For a business that actually opens to the public before dawn, it certainly goes without saying that employees at GLENDALE BAKE are some of the hardest-working in our area. And yet, no matter the hour of the day, customer service here is always at a premium, with lines moving pretty briskly, and most patrons on a first-name basis with the hard-working ladies in those bright red aprons. Combine that with some incredibly tasty pastry offerings – we like their Coconut Custard and their Apple Turnovers the best – as well as an ever-changing variety of lunch-time sandwich specials, and you’ve got yourself a pretty nice little café to call your own. (And one which we can’t help feeling merits at least a trip or two a day – especially if one’s office just happens to be right nearby!)
63-88 Woodhaven Boulevard
LONDON LENNIE’S is without question one of the absolute best restaurants in the borough, and one whose success is based not just on a loyal following from generation to generation, but also on a customer service and attention to detail that rivals some of the finest restaurants you’d visit in Manhattan. The right mix of casual but classy is always the best recipe for a broadly appealing restaurant, but LONDON LENNIE’S does it better than just about anybody. It’s equally suitable for a night out with the kids as it is for a first date or a special family anniversary. And whether it’s fish and chips you’re having or their delectable Pan Roasted Monkfish “Osso Buco,” the combination of the smartly attired waitstaff here and the classic American-bistro décor lets you know that an evening at LONDON LENNIE’S is definitely a special one.
79-22 Eliot Avenue
Yes, yes, it’s just a pizzeria – but a much-beloved pizzeria at that. The thing about Andrew that makes him stand out with his loyal patrons is very simply this: he greets you with tremendous familiarity and enthusiasm the moment you walk in the door. (And by the way, if you’ve only been there once before – he will already have remembered you by the occasion of your second visit!) ‘Course, all of that means nothing if the food isn’t good. But oh, ladies and gentlemen, the food here is very good. Fantastic eggplant parmigiana heroes, tangy red-sauce pasta dishes, and yes, some of the best brick oven pizza around. Stop in and check out what Andrew and company have built for themselves here. We’ve no doubt you’ll be making a return visit again soon.
71-54 Yellowstone Boulevard
Sure, dusty cluttered hardware stores have a ton of charm, and are a dying breed, we’ll grant you that. But that doesn’t really help you find what you need, does it? Which is why we’re such fans of the bright, clean, airy aisles at YELLOWSTONE HARDWARE. Now, you still may be as clueless or as lost as ever as you trot down that aisle looking for God-only-knows, but the point is, at least the place makes you feel like you’re going to find it! And by the way, we really have no idea why you would pursue said search on your own, because you’ve got an unbelievably friendly and knowledgeable staff right up front here to help you in that regard. Really… just ask them…
IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFE
22-26 31st Street
Don’t let the name fool you, folks – this is way more than just an ice cream café. (It’s just that ice cream is how the family first got into the food-purveying business.) Make no mistake, their Sundaes, Shakes and Floats are truly to die for, but it’s really comfort food that makes this place such a neighborhood hot spot – Paninis, Wraps, Burgers, Salads, and some fantastic Pancakes and Waffles – as well as the fact that the restaurant is so clean and bright and spacious. Credit their success these many years to the dedication of its ownership, The Panagiotopolous Family, who live around the corner and who figured out long ago that personal service and attention to detail are the keys to any successful neighborhood enterprise.
You might not find two more charming or outgoing hostesses than the young ladies we like to think of as “rhyming cousins” (their names are Athena and Nina) at South Williamsburg’s BRIDGET. Ostensibly a wine bar and the urban outlet/tasting room for Long Island’s Bridge Vineyards, BRIDGET seems to us to be so much more, as it’s also one of the coziest cafes you’re going to encounter for brunch, with some fantastic artisanal coffee options and an ever-evolving weekend version of the tapas-style menu that populates their evening offerings. Perhaps most importantly, though, BRIDGET is somewhat of an epicenter for all things green, by virtue of its association with the Southside CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and Brooklyn Food Coalition, among others. So if it’s kindred spirits you’re looking for, this is absolutely the perfect place to let the cares of the work-week melt away, or to linger over a languid weekend brunch.
Got a favorite merchant of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!