Laurent Kalkotour's culinary career has had him crisscrossing New York working for the likes of Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse. But since 2005 this French-trained chef from Aix en Provence has called the small enclave of Middle Village, Queens, home. Kalkatour, who is the chef of Atrium in Dumbo, met his wife when they worked in the same restaurant, and soon after, they settled on Middle Village to be closer to her family. Kalkatour shares his favorite spots in Middle Village—often with his two children in mind.
For the family: We go to Pio Pio and get a whole roasted chicken, yucca fritas, and mojo sauce. The meat is juicy, the skin is crip, and there's always a line—it'scrazy. The neighborhood used to be more Italian but now it's becoming more Latino.
Pizza: Close to us we have a little pizzeria: Steve's Pizza Place. The pizza has simple crust that's very thin with a nice tomato sauce. It's very well-seasoned and has some cheese on top. We go there a lot for the kids and go to the park afterward.
Sandwich: We go to Italian Village Gourmet on Elliot Avenue. It's all Italian. They sell some pasta, some sandwiches, and some food to go. I take ciabbatta bread with a chicken paillard rolled in bread crumbs, fried, and put between the two slices of bread with tomato, mayonnaise and lettuce.
Coffee and Bagel: Right next door, we have Andy's Delicatessen. Same thing on Elliot. It's where I get a toasted bagel with a coffee. Just a plain bagel with butter.
Fine dining/date night: Sometimes just the two of us, to get a little fancy, go to Danny Brown Wine Bar and Kitchen in Forest Hills. It has a Michelin star and it's pretty good near the neighborhood. It's very nice to have some fine dining in the area out of all those Italian spots around; every time I go the menu changes often. It's a small restaurant with an open kitchen. It's something more refreshing, more light, more refined, but still casual inside. A family runs the restaurant. You don't have to go with a suit and a tie.
Dessert: It's not really much. What we do is go into a little shop called Phillies on Elliot. It is a diner as well, but they have some nice cream. Sometimes we go after dinner or after a barbecue. It's usually very straightforward like vanilla, coconut or strawberry. We love it.
Italian: We have a place next to Juniper Park called La Bella Cucina. It's at the end of the park, and they have a beautiful terrace. When I go there, I always get the linguine with seafood—clams mostly—with a nice glass of wine to relax.
Argentinian: La Fusta. I love it. I get the parrillada, the mixed grill. It comes with sweet breads, ribs, and a ton more; the meat's always fresh . I usually order a side of potatoes;
The meat is very fresh. I order side of potatoes. They serve these on a little grill on a little table.
Kid-Friendly: California Pizza Kitchen. We usually go there when we go to the theater. It's nice and very easy to share since everything comes on a big platter. It's nothing really special, but we like to sit down there and order some pizza, a little salad, some pasta. It's great for the kids.