New York Take-Home Meals—As Old As the Television

Down the street from me is an Italian grocery store, Pastosa Ravioli, that also sells ready-to-eat lasagna, meatballs, chicken cutlets, grilled vegetables, salads, etc. When I don’t feel like cooking dinner, a quick stop at Pastosa hits the spot. I take the food home, usually breaded chicken cutlets and broccoli rabe, warm it in the oven and without any real work on my part, I have an excellent meal in minutes.

I figured take-home meals were a modern phenomenon, certainly no older than my parents are. But perusing New York Times archives for unrelated information about an old Italian restaurant, I came across this:

Ready-to-serve foods that may be picked up on the way home, heated briefly if need be, and served without any further bother are apparently popular with a good percentage of the city’s housewives. It was in response to demand, at any rate, that Schrafft’s started such a service in its restaurant at 13 East Forty-second Street.

The date on this article? June 24, 1946.  Continue reading

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Saveur Gives a Shout Out to Staten Island Food

Saveur magazine, Staten Island

Saveur magazine just published its 20th annual list of “the 100 most mind-bending, eye-opening, and palate-awakening dishes, drinks, ingredients, people, places, publications, and tools” it could find.

No. 74 on the list: “the most unexpectedly exciting part of New York City for culinary discoveries,” our own Staten Island:

Here, in the most bucolic of boroughs, Italian families tend kitchen gardens framed in squash blossoms, Mexican farmers till fields of papalo and epazote, and fishermen set crab pots and reel stripers from the surf. It’s a world of wild abundance where you can hike 25 miles along forested Greenbelt and then sate your hunger with some of the city’s most fabled pizza.

As the county with the country’s highest percentage of Italian Americans, we’re well-known for our Italian food, but as the article points out, we’re also home to large Mexican, Sri Lankan and Albanian communities—each of which has its own neighborhoods of markets and restaurants.

This tribute to the food of “New York’s most rapidly diversifying borough” gives shout-outs to Joe & Pat’s, Lee’s Tavern, Denino’s, Basilio Inn, Royal Crown Bakery and its neighbor Royal Cucina, Monte Albán Supermarket, Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn, Lakruwana and My Family Pizza.

I could add to the list a handful of other worthy restaurants, along with our St. George farmers’ market, which includes a vendor that grows all of its produce on the Decker Farm, New York City’s oldest continuously operated farm. It’s no secret that we Staten Islanders enjoy our food.

For those not familiar with Saveur, an unrelated entry in the same issue describes for me what makes the publication unique among other food magazines: The stories are “less about food than about cooking, and the people who cooked, and the context in which the food was cooked … Saveur wasn’t selling you anything—it was inviting you into a world.”

And now the editors have invited their readers to the unique world that is Staten Island.

What Does NYC Look Like on the West Coast?

Brooklyn Girl, San Diego

The hype of Brooklyn has reached San Diego, bringing to the neighborhood of Mission Hills a new representation of New York City.

This quiet neighborhood of historic homes and independent businesses sits a few miles above downtown San Diego. On frequent trips to Lefty’s Pizza, at Fort Stockton Drive and Goldfinch Street, I have always been intrigued by the restaurant across the street, Brooklyn Girl.

Who is trying to capitalize on the now-ubiquitous brand that is Brooklyn?  Continue reading