Monday, August 4, 2008

August 2008 - Staten Island

First of all, my big news: Noshwalks was featured in am-NY on Tuesday, July 29th, in a nice article on page 13. I'll try to post it later today!

I'm in the process of finishing Issue #21 of Noshnews and am pretty excited about after many months.

In this post, I'm going to share some photos and previews of the issue.

"Little Sri Lanka" - Many foodies know that there's quite a bit of Sri Lankan food to be found in Staten Island, especiallly in Tompkinsville, not far from the ferry terminal in St. George. But this past week, a new restaurant opened, and three weeks earlier, a rather tattered Sri Lankan place re-opened with a new owner and much different approach to dining in this neighborhood, i.e., both new restaurants have a lot more seating and are decorated to attract a more upscale clientele. Lak Bojun at 324 Victory Boulevard and Dosa Garden, across the street at 327 Victory Boulevard, each will offer a much nicer ambiance for eating than has existed to date.
Sanjeewa Wickremaratne opened Lak Bojun (324 Victory Boulevard) in early July.

Dosa Garden was set to open on Saturday, July 31. I was leading a Noshwalk in Sunset Park that day so I didn't have a chance to go to opening day. But owner Mogan Chinniah has carved out a beautiful and fairly spacious eating area for customers. By the way, the restaurant canopy and menu describe it as an Indian place, but when I visited them as they were putting the finishing touches on the place two days before opening, Chinniah told me that it's both Indian and Sir Lankan. The menu looks great, with about 15 different types of doas and utthappam (crepes and pancakes), biryanis and other mouthwatering treats.

Meanwhile, I had an amazing lunch at Lak Bojun, with chicken curry, carrots cooked in cocoanut milk, eggplant and a chewy dried fish in a savory rice. It reminded me of the Indonesian dish nasi goreng, which combines textures and flavors. I hope both restaurants are hugely successful!

I can imagine, now that there are four Sri Lankan eateries within a block that foodies will "discover it" and flock there in big numbers, if they can convince themselves that Staten Island isn't a faraway country. (The other two places are New Asha, next door to Lak Bojun at 322 Victory Boulevard, and Colombo Cafe at 12 Cebra Ave., around the corner. New Asha has been around for a pretty long time and is known to NY Noshers. Colombo Cafe was known as Lakshmi's until about a month ago. I think the new name is better, and the food is great, but the space needs improvement.)

Besides the Sri Lankan places, this neighborhood also has several Albanian shops. The three food venues include Chuck's Pizza (which, like many NYC pizzerias is owned by Albanians), Rey's pizza (next door to Dosa Garden) and Emil's Halal Meat Market and Groceries. Chuck's and Emil's are owned by the Dedovic family (340 and 342 Victory Boulevard). Chuck's -which opened earlier this year, in a really beautiful space - also serves bureks, the delicious fillo pies filled with cheese, potato, meat, spinach and, sometimes, combinations of these. Check out the menu, because admidst all the typical Italian dishes are a number of Balkan specialties.

Elez and Emil (Chuck) Dedavic pose together with a pan of fresh-baked burek! They're at Chuck's Pizzeria at 340 Victory Boulevard not far from the ferry. You can get there on the S61 or S62 bus, which takes 5 to 8 minutes to zip up Victory Boulevard to Cebra Avenue.

There are tons of Mexican places on Victory Boulevard, but my favorite by a long shot is Tulci-Mex Cafe at 104 Victory Boulevard. Owner Marcelo Farciert (whose surname is French, but he's 100% Poblano from the city of Tulcingo)was doing so well serving up Mexican dishes in the back of his market two storefronts up at 108 Victory Boulevard that he took over an old 99-cent store and made a successful restaurant. He offers four different types of tamales. Everything I've had there has been delicious.

Marcelo Farciert has operated his market on Victory Boulevard for about 15 years, but opened the cafe within the last couple of years.

I have LOTS more to say about Staten Island, but you'll have to get Noshnews #21 to read it. It will be done later this month. Check for more details!


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