Last night’s Taste of Sunnyside event served as both a survey of the neighborhood’s dining options and a preview of the public plazas planned for the area. Sunnyside Shines, the local business improvement district, is currently in talks with the Department of Transportation to convert the dim parking area beneath the 7 train between 40th and 46th streets into a more welcoming space. Given the crowd that gathered in tents set up for the festival, which reflected Sunnyside’s diversity through a range of strong and inventive dishes, this corner of Queens is pushing beyond its identity as a sleepy family-focused community. Here, we take a look at the spots that doled out some of the best bites from the evening.
Salt & Fat, 41-15 Queens Boulevard, Sunnyside Salt & Fat brings sophistication to a stretch of Queens Boulevard otherwise dominated by old school Irish pubs (not that there’s anything wrong with those). A meal there, true to the restaurant’s name, starts with complimentary popcorn cooked in bacon fat. The menu proceeds with decadent, Korean-influenced small plates, as crafted by chef and owner Daniel Yi, who grew up nearby. At the event, staff painstakingly assembled smooth slabs of pork terrine topped with salmon roe and grain mustard, the most elegant sample of the night.
Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar, 44-07 Queens Boulevard, Sunnyside Venturo is the most recent venture in a trio of restaurants from co-owners Giuseppe Falco and Leo Sacco, and executive chef Michelle Vido (the other two are Vesta and Pachanga Patterson, both in Astoria). The menu is heavy on farm-fresh produce, and Tuesday the team served up black and green lasagna made with eggplant, kale, and béchamel sauce, excellent veggie comfort food. For dessert, there was Baby Jesus cake, a spice cake drizzled with toffee and cream, also a popular item at Vesta.
De Mole, 45-02 48th Avenue, Woodside Perennially underrated De Mole was on hand to prove that Mexican cuisine need not rely on meat for flavor: The seitan with vegan mole had the same boldness and complexity as the standard stuff. We hope that dish makes the regular menu, which includes other tasty choices for vegetarians, like squash blossom quesadillas, as well as plenty of satisfying meat dishes like tinga de puebla and barbacoa tacos.
Nita’s European Bakery, 40-10 Greenpont Avenue, Sunnyside Despite the dozens of samples on offer, we wanted to go back for seconds from this family-owned Romanian bakery. Of the three savory pastries Nita’s served, the best was the cheese, encased in a perfectly flaky puff. It would pair beautifully on a weekend morning with a coffee and some of the sweet offerings. And we hear a good bet for a child’s birthday is the establishment’s chocolate cake, baked in the shape of a hedgehog.
The Dog and Duck, 45-20 Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside Sunnyside’s first gastropub has a menu that leans British and French, with items like a full English breakfast, a goat cheese and onion tarte tatin, and moules frites. Last night, it threw its version of fried pickles into the ring, and despite the omnipresence of this bar snack throughout the city, The Dog and Duck’s stands out. Topped with a smoky mayo, it would go well with a pint from the pub’s rotating draft list.