The rapid rise of dining in Brooklyn is impressive, but for a resident of Queens like myself, it highlights the shortcoming of Queens dining. Outside from a few ethic Chinese, Korean, and Thai restaurants, we don’t really have many destination restaurants that would make people from the other 4 boroughs hop on the 7 or F train. Try finding a nice restaurant to have a business luncheon or dinner, you’re better off going further East into Long Island. Romantic restaurants? You can almost say fuhgeddaboudit.
I say almost, because a few years ago a work acquaintance took me to Parkside Restaurant. The restaurant sits right in between two subway lines, conveniently beyond walking distance. It features no famous chefs who you can name, no twitter account, no OpenTable. In fact it feels as if it’s stuck in the 80s with the old styled decor and waiters wearing bow ties.
That’s precisely the beauty of this restaurant. Maybe I don’t want every restaurant in New York to look like an industrial complex with waiters dressed in jeans and sneakers, and I’ve had it with every restaurant serving what’s popular now, not what the chef’s good at making. At Parkside you get hearty portions of Italian fare, classic dishes with fresh ingredients, and everything taste just like grandma (if you’re Italian) used to make because the owner/chef never went to culinary school.
Despite the massive size of the restaurant, 2 floors plus a greenhouse covered balcony expansion, on most nights you would not find a table without a reservation. While personally I prefer the bustling atmosphere of the first floor, the 2nd floor “Marilyn Monroe Room”, with a larger than life portrait of Ms. Monroe on the wall does have its unique classic charms.
Having tried many of the dishes on the menu on multiple visits, I’m a huge fan of the white wine steamed clams for appetizer. Plump and juicy clams soaked in a white wine broth, it would make a meal on its own if you give me a loaf of bread to dip in. The crab cake is also quite good. Unlike most restaurants, this cake is packed with crab meat, mixed with some mango, and not battered nor fried.
At a traditional Italian restaurant like this, you ought to do pasta for the entree. My personal favorite is the Seafood Combination Parkside Style, which is a whopping 8 oz. Lobster Tail, Shrimp, Clams & Mussels on a bed of Linguini. In fact most of the protein choices here comes with pasta, so make your choice accordingly. On one visit I had a steak, and to be honest that was quite good as well.
As the restaurant world embraces visual presentation and delicate flavors, Parkside keeps the portions large, and satisfies with plates full of sauce laden pasta at affordable prices. That’s the charm of this place, and that’s what keeps me coming back.
From the notebook: It’s probably closer to get here from the 7 train. The restaurant features valet parking, though neighborhood parking is abundant. If you’re like me, you’ll have enough left-over for lunch tomorrow.
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