Park Side Restaurant
I may not have been writing but I have definitely been eating. Many of the restaurants which I might have scooped, having tried them before word got out – have either soared or closed since my last foray into blogging. But the silent period is now fini. Too much great food, lovely experiences and spectacular dishes hither and yon have crossed my lips, it’s time to invite anyone along who is food curious and isn’t spent from reading everything else out there!
A little dining smorgasbourg to begin. I’ll slip in and out of time and start with the past, zoom into the present and go back and forth, weaving meals together until I eventually catch up with myself!
Going back a bit, I want to give a shout out (a lip smack?) to a fun birthday dinner two years ago at the venerable, much touted and for good reason – Park Side Restaurant in Corona, Queens.
I’m a Don Pepe girl but a little side bar for another glamorous old world red sauce Italian is always in order. There’s supreme comfort in a large menu filled with east coast classic Italian as I think of it. More Italian American than true Venetian or Roman. But it’s good. And there’s valet parking!
You start off with a complimentary antipasti that includes hunks of parmigiano, sausage bites and little tomato covered bruschetta. And…a bread basket that has become legendary for its prosciutto stuffed lard bread. It’s almost an avalanche of sesame bread sticks (just like you remember them), dinner rolls and the aforementioned stuff-them-in-your-purse-for-tomorrow meat bread. Everything is very generously portioned and somehow good enough if not the best you’ve ever had. Maybe because there’s heart if not spice and it’s served by bow tied waiters in tuxedo jackets.
It feels like you’re the star of a Scorsese film and for this dinner, your trip to the 1980’s is a big shouldered, married to the mob feeling blast from the past. Women who come here on a Saturday night were most certainly at the beauty parlor earlier in the day in preparation.
Just what you imagined. A smattering pictured here. Shrimp Fra Diavolo could use more devil but the shrimp were nicely cooked and the pasta was al dente. Veal Parm was apparently satisfying in the way that your favorite diner in NJ always pleases. And it does, doesn’t it? The sauce veers to the sweeter edge and there’s enough mozzarella to feed a family of ten. I’ll always vote the way of Clams Oreganata and a big stuffed lemony leafed artichoke. Whatever you do, get an order of the Hot Cherry Peppers and add them to each of your dishes. The zing will bring a smile to your face and when offered the complimentary Sambuca and biscotti at the meal’s end, they’ll reduce any fire.
Park Side still gets a celebrity or three and they proudly share a wall of photos.
There are three floors of dining including the Marilyn Monroe salon on the second floor and the Garden Room on the main level. Party rooms are available for a big shindig. There’s a long wooden bar to wait at if you are foolish enough not to make a reservation.
Park Side definitely has its fans and regulars. I really enjoyed being there but I couldn’t help comparing the food to Don Pepe’s and they long ago stole my Italian American craving heart. However, after dinner you can venture down the block to the illustrious Lemon King of Corona and watch the decades old rivalry on the bocce court just across the street – while you lick delicious icy-ness in your flavor of choice and cleanse the hot cherry peppers and time machine travel out of your system.
Park Side Restaurant
107-01 Corona Avenue
Monday-Saturday 12-1130pm, Sunday 1230-11pm