I'm embarrassed to say that in the 4 years I lived in Manhattan, I probably made it to Queens once, and Brooklyn twice. It is *hard* to make up for lost time once you move out... but I'm making an effort. Didn't break any new ground, but had some good food.
DIFARA (Brooklyn) – I had a near-perfect slice on this visit. Sometimes he goes overboard with the grana padano, and it dominates the flavor profile, but on this visit, it was the perfect amalgam of cheese, sauce and crust, with a more generous cutting of basil than usual. I ate the whole thing with my eyes closed. I say only near-perfect because the crust was a tad thicker than usual, but still… at the bottom of my food journal entry, after me waxing rhapsodic about the flavors lingering in my mouth long after the slice was gone, and the smoke clinging to my hair as a reminder of this One Great Slice, the words - “It was a staggering slice of heartbreaking genius.”
Of note: I thought Dom looked younger than before, and he seemed to be moving – could it be? Faster!
XI’AN SMALL EATS (or Famous Snacks)
OK, first of all, I give a lot of credit to the CH’ers who first started posting on this place. I’m used to the giant, clean, mall-like Asian food courts in California was disoriented to find myself in this tiny warren-like den of chow. I can speak Mandarin reasonably well and can read a little bit, and I was totally intimidated.
I wandered towards the back, confused as to where to order – luckily, one of the women (now probably used to people looking lost in search of lamb “burgers”) called out, “are you looking for the lamb jia mo?” It was good – heavy on the cumin, would have been better with more chile and cilantro, and less salt, though – very satisfying, at $2.50.
I’d passed a stall where a woman was rolling out dough for dumplings, so despite not being very hungry, I found myself drawn back to the stall, and ordered 12 small dumplings for $3. They were excellent – very flavorful pork, leek and shrimp filling – I inhaled the entire plate, then went back to my friend’s place on the UWS and slept for the rest of the afternoon. The stall name had the character for “Family” in it. That’s all I can say about it’s identifying features, other than the woman rolling out dough in front.
AKTI – I’d been eating a lot of meat on this trip, and was desperately craving vegetables. I met up with my (vegetarian) friend who lives in Astoria and we headed to Akti. I enjoyed it – everything we ordered had fresh, vibrant flavors. Portions were generous. I especially liked the eggplant dip and the salad with beets and hard-boiled eggs, but also enjoyed zucchini/potato fritters with yogurt/cucumber dip, Greek fries, and dandelion greens. I wouldn’t go out specifically to eat there, but it’s a good option if you’re in the neighborhood.
Golden Shopping Mall
41-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11355
Di Fara Pizza
1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230