Best entrance into David Letterman, ever.
I first started going to The Palm around 1996 or so. We would go after taking in the Knicks game. Nothing like a late night New York Strip at 10pm. 16 years or so later, my caricature was added to the wall at the Tribeca Palm. There’s a lot of meals in between those years, and a lot has happened. If you are a New Yorker, you are either “a Palm guy or you’re not.” Some opt for Lugers or Sparks- not me, I’m a Palm guy, always will be.
When Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened The Palm Restaurant in 1926, they had no money to decorate. Luckily, their location on Manhattan’s Second Avenue was in close proximity to the headquarters of King Features Syndicate and attracted a large clientele of cartoonists. In exchange for their meals, artists would often draw their own creations on the walls of The Palm.
Over the years, the tradition of decorating our locations with caricatures has continued as we’ve expanded across the country and internationally. Before a new restaurant opens, 200 to 300 local notables’ likenesses are placed on the walls, and new caricatures of regulars and celebrities are added regularly. Not surprisingly, the most in-demand wall space is at the original Second Avenue location, where only five caricatures are added each year due to space constraints.
Best entrance into David Letterman, ever.
Licensed to Ill changed my life. I was a 14 year old boy, alone, and angry. That album spoke to so many of us, growing up, living in NYC, and looking for something that resonated to us. It was also the same ago I started to drink on a near every day basis. That album had alot of influence on me. My first concert was the Run DMC/ Beastie Boys at Madison Square Garden. It was crazy. Fights, stabbings, white boys, black kids, it was an amazing first concert.
RIP #MCA, Adam Yauch.
Ali G interviews Newt
“It’s better sometimes, When we don’t get to touch our dreams.”
Going to Don Pepes tonight, my old hood Queens.
On Dec. 12, 1978, eight mobsters known as the “Robert’s Lounge Crew” stole $5 million in cash and $850,000 in jewelry from the Lufthansa Airline’s cargo compound at JFK. The Lufthansa Heist, as it would be know, was an inside job. News of the robbery was reported around the world, and it was part of the storyline in Goodfellas.
So what do you do with that much cash burning a hole in your pocket? You go to Don Pepe.
It’s arguably the best Italian restaurant in New York, but don’t look for it in any guidebooks. That’s because Don Pepe is a remnant of a New York that doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s in Ozone Park, Queens, five minutes from JFK. Until a few years ago, every name in the phone book here ended in a vowel.
The line starts to form about six most nights. It’s mostly families. Kids who grew up nearby, bringing their own kids back for a taste of “the old neighborhood.”
But about 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, the atmosphere starts to change. The lights dim, the smell of garlic hangs a little heavier in the air, and the ballads of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and Bobby Darin get a little louder. Men in $2,000 Italian suits and white silk ties held against gleaming white shirts with diamond tie tacks. Sliding into booths next to them are Marisa Tomei look-a-likes (think of her character in “My Cousin Vinny,” but with twice the attitude). Out front, their Cadillacs and Lincolns are double parked, the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition (Who’d dare touch ‘em?). This is the best time to come to Don Pepe.
Why does anyone come here? Partly it’s for the atmosphere. But mostly it’s for the food. And they’re rarely disappointed.
I always start with the house white and an order of baked clams. Fresh that day, the clams have just the right amount of breading. I could make a meal out of them, but I don’t because I know what else is on the menu.
The caprese salad (fresh mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes in a light balsamic vinaigrette and a hint of basel) is outstanding. If you order the zuppa di cozza (mussels), plop one of those big white lumps floating in the broth into your mouth. They’re not scallops, but garlic. And they’re squisito.
For entrees, the Veal Don Pepe can’t be beat. Lightly breaded with just a hint of lemon. The Scapariello is good, too. Chicken on the bone with sausage, onions, bell peppers and (again) whole garlic cloves. I’ve also had the shrimp in red butter and onion sauce and the Shrimp Luciano (named after a former patron) over linguine. In short, I’ve never had a bad meal here.
For dessert I recommend the lemon sorbet, served in a hollowed out lemon husk. And if you order espresso, you don’t have to ask for the Anisette. Like any authentic Italian restaurant, it automatically appears on the table.
And bring cash. They don’t take American Express (or any other credit cards) at Don Pepe.
Ironically, the Robert’s Lounge Crew never saw a penny of the Lufthansa money. They stole it, but the money soon disappeared - along with them.
The smart money says the bosses got the loot. But knowing that they had one of their last meals at Don Pepe, I don’t feel so bad for them. Do you?
Always a head of his time. Pure genius, George Carlin in 2005.
Born in the 7-1-8, currently in the 2-1-2