BY TRONE DOWD
Jamaica has quickly become a neighborhood for those with the taste for finer things. Luckily for those people, the neighborhood has began to reflect that.
Those diving into the restaurant business are starting to take advantage of this interest in Jamaica by offering some of the best eateries this side of the borough. Here are just a handful of restaurants setting the Jamaica and the greater Southeast Queens area aflame with their originality, creativity and delectable eats you can’t find anywhere else.
Pa-Nash Eurosoul and
Restaurant and Lounge
(5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wed-Thurs, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fri-Sat, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday-Tuesday)
One look at this establishment and you’ll know that you’re in a different type of restaurant entirely. Located in Rosedale, just 15 minutes away from Jamaica Center train station by car or cab, the mood set by the unique decor screams upscale Manhattan, all while offering the type of cuisine exclusive to the popular dinner spot.
“Folks are always drawn back when they step in here because they no longer feel like their in Rosedale or in Queens, they feel like they’re in Manhattan,” restaurant owner Anette Runcie said. “That was the intent of Pa-Nash. We bring upscale dining to this area, where there’s no other place that exists like this and provides this level of quality in Queens.”
The restaurant specializes in a very different, eclectic mix of culinary styles, resulting in something wholly unique to Pa-Nash. This fusion, Mediterranean with Caribbean and soul food influences, creates something both familiar and equally delicious to many in the Jamaica area, mixed in with the very natural and organic styles of Eastern European cuisine.
Runcie said that the unorthodox mix came from her own background and the desire to make it a little less taxing on the health of those in the community.
“I come for Caribbean descent, and of course many of the people in the community are Caribbean,” Runcie said. “A lot of folks are also southern, soul food kind of folks. But I’ve always liked some of the healthier parts of the Mediterranean diet. I was specifically Morocco that drew my interest as far as its food and diversity.”
Runcie said that since opening in November 2013, reception to the food has been great overall. But out of all the varying options available on the menu, three dishes have kept customers coming back for more.
“Our signature appetizer has been our fig glazed chicken wings, which is our top selling item that you can’t get anywhere else.” Last October, the sweet poultry dish served with a side of chili sauce was featured in Long Island Pulse Magazine’s “18 Things to Eat Right Now.”
On the entree side of things, Runcie said that the Pistachio Custard lamb chops and the Coconut and Almond Custard Salmon have been the restaurant’s top selling dish.
City Rib Bar-B-Que
(4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon-Tues, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wed-Thurs, 11:30a.m. to 2 a.m. Fri-Sat, 1p.m.-10 p.m. Sun)
Located along Parsons Boulevard and 89 Avenue, City Rib has quickly become a staple of the Southeast Queens community. It has been the location of many special events in the area since its opening in 2013, and a spot to wind down after work, enjoy a drink or two and eat some of the finest barbequed dishes offered in Jamaica.
“I didn’t grow up in Jamaica, but I’ve lived here for about five years, and the area is great,” said restaurant owner Danielle Odom, who had plenty of positive things to say about Southeast Queens. “I think the area gets a little bit of a bad wrap because of the name, but yet we have so many wonderful restaurants and activities to do, events that go on in different parts of Jamaica and its neighbors like St. Albans and what not. Between Jazz festivals and music events, the two Performing Arts Centers here right in the area, working here is great.”
Odom said that the bustling interest in culture and the fine arts has been something that as benefitted the restaurant greatly, both in the clientele that it brings in and the hospitality that has been thrown their way.
“It’s very nice,” Odom said. “Sometimes people come in, very thankful that there is a place like City Rib where they can come in and enjoy themselves.”
Odom called City Rib authentic, from both an aesthetic standpoint and from their smoked selection of fresh off the grill dishes.
“We smoke everything in house, we make everything fresh to order,” Odom told the Queens Tribune. “It’s a very nice restaurant to come to to enjoy fresh barbeque food and enjoy some entertainment.”
Local musical acts including professors and students from York College just four blocks from the restaurant have been frequent musical guests providing live shows for the eatery’s many patrons.
Just last week City Rib hosted a huge retirement party for world famous Olympian Bob Beamon, who participated in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and won gold for his world record-breaking long jump.
According to Odom, the stand out dish for City Rib has been their barbequed spare ribs.
“While anything smoked here is really good, definitely our spare ribs have been the stand out with customers.”
O’Lavrador Restaurant and Bar
(10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week)
While CityRib and Pa-Nash have added something to the area within Jamaica’s renaissance in the last five years, family owned Portuguese restaurant O’Lavrador has been in the area for 34 years, becoming a succulent culinary landmark for longtime residents and a worthy find for new patrons.
“We are one of the oldest places in the neighborhood,” said restaurant owner Edgar Ferreira. “We are a staple here, all of the neighbors know us.”
Ferreira, who owns O’Lavrador along with his sister Manuela Henriques, took over the restaurant in 2010 from their parents. Throughout the years, O’Lavrador has kept true to its more down to Earth theme. The restaurant is run as a group effort from all sides of the family.
Ferreira describes the O’Lavrador as a rustic family owned restaurant that is open and honest to its customers. The restaurant has a very laid back relaxed vibe that introduces patrons to a soothing and comfortable rural setting for fine dining, a stark contrast from the often times break neck Manhattan style speeds of the Jamaica neighborhood.
“Our dining room is a little more classical European with some stone work and a fireplace. We’re not a very formal place, we like to keep things casual, and I think it’s what keeps people coming back,” Ferreira said.
The top dishes of O’Lavrador happens to be their selection of fresh fish and seafood. In particular, Ferreira cited their Mariscada en Salsa Verde, a seafood combination plate that includes lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scallops covering in a creamy parsley sauce with a side of rice as a particularly popular dish at the establishment.
Ferriera said that he was happy to be serving the community for as long as he and his family has.
“It’s great,” he said. “it’s family all around. We have a lot of regulars who have been coming here for many years. It’s a pleasure working here.”
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly.