Not Just For Mets Fans
The Original Cascarino's of College Point
14-60 College Point Blvd., College Point
Hours: Sun-Thurs 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 6:30 a.m. 11 p.m.
Credit Cards: Yes
New York City is every foodie's haven. Every section of this fair city has some treasure tucked away, waiting to be unearthed. This may be the only place on earth where authentic creations are found around the bend, and down the block of any non-descript street. Of all the selections to be had in the most diverse borough, I always feel especially happy when the choice is Italian.
The Original Cascarino's of College Point, operated by Rob Cascarino and family, has a leg up on the competition. There is no secret here because for more than two decades, this has been a neighborhood staple. The New York Mets have certainly taken notice, making Cascarino's wood oven pizza the official pizza of the team.
"I called the [Mets representative] to come here and taste my pizza," said Cascarino.
Whether you are in the mood for a panini, pizza or pasta from the heart of Calabria, Italy, Cascarino's will pique your interest.
My guest and I started out with what was essentially dessert. Looking to unwind after a long week, we both opted for a mudslide. For those of you who don't know what it is, it is akin to an adult milkshake. How can you go wrong with ice cream, liquor and chocolate syrup? I am considering making this a preliminary ritual to the start of every meal.
We were served fresh focaccia, baked in house. I fancy myself a bread connoisseur and I must say it is delish. I would go to Cascarino's merely for its bread. After the bread, a bevy of dishes made their way to the table - Caesar salad, crispy calamari, penne alla vodka, chicken stiano, lasagna and margherita pizza.
I was really impressed with the calamari. A part of me was quite happy that my companion is allergic, which meant I had my fill. I dunked the lightly breaded rings in marina and hot sauce.
The penne alla vodka was creamy and rich. My date gave the thumbs up on the pasta coated thoroughly in the sauce, and once I had a bite I knew we were going to fight over the leftovers.
We joined the Cascarino's faithful that swear by the chicken stiano. The dish is a pan-fried chicken cutlet cooked in a red Marsala wine sauce topped with prosciutto, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella. Now I know why it's so popular.
As for the lasagna, the cheese and the sauce stretched across the plate creating a precarious stringy bridge, with flavors dancing across my palate on every bite. The margherita pizza was a worthy exclamation point at the end of the hearty meal.
Sure, we may have eaten the meal backwards, but at Cascarino's, there's no wrong way to do things - and there are no wrong choices. Go; you'll be happy you went.
Cascarino's also serves breakfast until 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant also does catering and has a party room that can accommodate up to 100 people. Got a birthday coming up? Make a note.
"When people walk out of here they are happy," Cascarino said. "By the way, mama still makes the meatballs."
— Sasha Austrie