Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five Forest Hills Businesses That Should Expand

Red Pipe
1. Red Pipe Cafe
Forest Hills' only indie cafe is charming, delightful, delicious and cozy. And while the coziness is certainly part of its charm, a bigger space with more room to spread out wouldn't hurt one of the neighborhood's finest spots.

2. La Boulangerie
Our best bakery offers delectable eats, from sandwiches, to salads, to breads and soups. And the space, like Red Pipe, is authentic, cozy and inviting. But also usually crowded. It could easily double in size and maintain its French mystique.

3. Starbucks (71st Continental)
Why not? We're home to one of the tiniest Starbucks on Earth.

4. Mr Vino's Cucina
I recently had a sandwich from this tiny gourmet food shop on Austin St. and it was terrific—fresh and delicious. This shop has the potential to be so much more than just a gourmet food/craft beer emporium. I can see it as a sit-down lunch place with light casual top-notch sandwiches and salads, something our 'hood so desperately still needs.

5. Red Mango
See No. 3.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Bake Shop Coming to Austin St.

I believe this is in the former space where that little Mexican / Chinese food combo place used to be. Looks like it could be a cute little place...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Restaurant Review: OvoSodo

Oh, to keep up with all the restaurants now in Forest Hills! It's a full-time job these days. Yes, there are still a few old-time places that have bucked the trend—Portofino, T-Bone Diner, for example—and managed to stay in business despite all the new competition. But the fact is they are facing an uphill battle that gets more difficult every other month it seems as the next new place opens up. In just the past several years, so many new restaurants have opened in Forest Hills, the dining scene here has gone from one stuck in the mid-1970s, with maybe four or five decent, and I use the word decent generously, restaurants, to one that's overflowing with excellent choices.

Recently, I decided to pay another visit to one spot that hasn't gotten as much attention since the awesome places like Station House, Banter and Jack & Nellie's have opened. And that is the Italian diner/restaurant OvoSodo, located on Queens Blvd. just around the corner from Ascan.

OvoSodo is a very interesting place. It's half gourmet italian restaurant, and half diner. That's really the best way to put it. At different times of day you can get pretty much any kind of food you'd get in a good diner. For breakfast, there's your standard bacon and eggs fare, for example. At night, for dinner, it takes on more of an Italian restaurant feel.

And that is mostly because it's excellent sister Italian restaurant, Tuscan Hills, is located just a few blocks further down Queens Blvd., towards Kew Gardens.

And that's another element that makes OvoSodo so interesting. Tuscan Hills serves some of the same dishes OvoSodo does. But there are some differences. For example, while Tuscan Hills' pizza is to die for—some of the best in the City—OvoSodo takes the pizza experience further, offering a different style of pizza altogether (square slices, for instance) and a much broader variety.

At my recent visit, I had the Salsiccia pizza: Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and sausage. It was awesome. Light, not heavy like traditional NY style pizza, but overflowing with mouth-watering flavor.

OvoSodo's Salsiccia pizza, with mouth-watering sausage.
We also had the meat lasagna, also excellent.

So the food is terrific. But what I also love about OvoSodo is the atmosphere. Each restaurant feeds off its location. An establishment can't help but be influenced by where it is situated in this great big city of ours. And here, even within the confined borders of Forest Hills proper, where a restaurant is located influences its look, its feel, and its atmosphere.

By situating OvoSodo along Queens Blvd., that decision can't help but affect the overall feel, and purpose, of this particular restaurant. When we visited, during a weekend evening around 8p.m., we noticed it was only half-full. Since this place is a bit off-the-beaten path, it wasn't hard to imagine that the influx of weekend diners to Forest Hills had gotten so far as Austin Street and its side-streets, and then stopped there. OvoSodo is in a spot frequented by locals—and that's about it. There'd be no reason for visitors to find it, really. The fact is, the block it's on, along with most of that strip of Queens Blvd.—on both sides—has seen much better days.

And that's probably the reason we are starting to see such an interesting dining scene arise along Queens Blvd. now. The atmosphere—speeding cars, old apartment buildings, could not be more dreadful for a restaurant—but the new restaurants that are opening along the Boulevard are doing wondrous things with both cuisine and with the atmosphere inside their walls. You would not know you are eating at a place with multiple lanes of inappropriate-for-a-residential neighborhood traffic racing by outside.

And that's why there's been a spate of attractive new restaurants opening along these blocks of Queens Boulevard, and not Austin Street. The rents just gotta be a ton lower than along Austin, which a Shake Shack can probably easily afford (praise the lord!) but which an entrepreneurial restauranteur just cannot—at least in its early-going.

OvoSodo makes use of the urbanized atmosphere of Queens Blvd. by incorporating a dinerish feel; it's a place you can spend hours refilling that cup of coffee. It's not overcrowded like so many of the other hip new places that have opened in and around Austin Street. (Even, unfortunately, Red Pipe, which I love, but is a tiny spot and could benefit from a much bigger space.)

And that is what I love about OvoSodo—it's open, it's airy, it gives you room to breathe—and to delight in some awesome food to boot. Try it out if you haven't already.

Latest Video in Arson Case

The police have released another video of whom they think is the person responsible for setting the fires at construction sites in one area of Forest Hills, north of Queens Blvd. Other leads they had in the case have not panned out, including a photo of one man on a motorcyle the authorities had circulated as a possible suspect. He turned out to be a first responder. So the man in the video below is the current suspect in the case.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Chanukah!

Better late than never, for those of you who don't follow me on Twitter!

Seeking Holiday Photos and Pictures of the Day

Don't forget to send in your holiday decoration photos or just any cool pics you have for Pictures of the Day. Email them to

La Boulangerie's charming holiday decorations during Christmas 2013.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Film to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

A young local filmmaker, 16-year-old Forest Hills resident Harrison Dillingham, emailed me about his short film. It includes many beautiful scenes of Forest Hills and Manhattan during the holidays and a soundtrack that will really get you in the holiday mood as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Free Tour of Historic Forest Hills Today

FREE Historic Forest Hills Tour on Sun, Dec 6 from 2 PM - 4 PM. We will explore stately residential buildings, the business district, & the Forest Hills Gardens. We will meet at La Boulangerie at 109-01 72nd Rd. Please join Jeff Gottlieb (Central Queens Historical Association, President), Michael Perlman (Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair & Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park, Author), & Susanna Hof (Terrace Sotheby's Realty, Principal). Questions? Email &


New Photo of Suspect in Local Fires

The police have released this new photo of a suspect in the local fires. Another fire occurred at a home under construction last night...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Americans Films in Forest Hills Thursday

The TV show The Americans returns to filming in Forest Hills Thursday. A reader says filming will be "on the south side of Queens Blvd between the 76's and also Austin."