Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Christina Lee's Whitestone, Queens
Christina Lee balances a playful style and old-school technique—the first, showcased at Recette, where she has served as Jesse Schenker's pastry chef since the restaurant's early incarnation as a Harlem supper club; and the second, learned from her training at the French Culinary Institute and years of work at Per Se and Falai. She's old-school in more ways than one: she lives in the neighborhood where she grew up, in Whitestone, Queens, where her parents still call home. But Whitestone isn't just diners and Italian joints anymore, says Christina; as the demographic changes, the food scene has begun to grown and expand.
Pizza: Cascarino's does really great New York-style pizza: crispy crust with a little semolina on the bottom. The spinach and tomato pie is packed with veggies, and delicious.
Burger: There's a Five Guys that has great burgers, and you can get all the toppings you want. Gotta have mushrooms, onions, and jalapenos with A1 sauce. I love the fries there, especially the Cajun fries.
Bagel: On Saturdays and Sundays, the line at Utopia Bagels is down the block. The bagels are really fresh and delicious. I like the everything flagel with scallion cream cheese.
Delivery/takeout food: King's Chef is your average Chinese place, but it's pretty decent for delivery or takeout. I like their chicken with eggplant and garlic sauce.
Ice cream: There's a Ralph's Italian Ices that I like to go to in the summer. They have an Italian ice and soft serve combo that's an icy, creamy treat. I like to get the black raspberry Italian ice with vanilla soft serve.
Latin: There's a Mr. Pollo, which is a Peruvian roasted chicken place that's really good. I get the roast chicken with rice and beans, and the avocado salad.
Baked goods: Stork's Bakery is a really old-school place that's been in the neighborhood forever. It's what I grew up with, and sometimes you just want a little taste of your childhood. When I was in elementary school, my mom would buy all these pastries for us from there as a treat. They make really good cookies, strawberry tarts, strawberry shortcakes, etc. My favorite thing is these jam cookies: they're really crumbly and buttery cookies filled with apricot or raspberry jam.
White tablecloth: Verdi's is a really nice Italian place that's very traditional. They do a good chicken parmesan, and their spaghetti is great. It's the only nicer place to go out to dinner in the area.
Can't-miss neighborhood spot: Cherry Valley has awesome sub sandwiches with creative names. They do all different crazy combinations of meat and gravy. They're open 24 hours, so if you're hungry after work, you know you're gonna get a really filling, tasty sandwich. My favorite is the SOB: it's roast beef with a spicy barbecue sauce, gravy, and onions. It's a really messy, fatty sandwich that's really good.