Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where We Gonna Eat???

A love of food comes with growing up Italian. As a kid I remember we didn't go out much. A visit to Sportman's Cafe on Fulton Street (a local pizza joint , or the Chinese restaurant on Pitkin Avenue was a big deal for us. I do remember my mother taking me to the Horn & Hardart "Automat" downtown Brooklyn. For those of you too young to remember this fabulous place, it was a cafeteria-style restaurant, but the fascination was getting your food from behind little glass windows after dropping the required number of nickels in the slot. I think the first time I saw the inside of a real restaurant was after somebody's funeral.

As I got older, we went out more. One of our favorite places was Salerno's, not in Brooklyn, but in Jamaica, Queens. This was a "prix fixe" ("fixed price" for non-French speakers) place decorated in the Italian style that gave you enough food over so many courses that you literally staggered out the door. They had a wandering accordionist that played Italian songs as you dined. My mother loved this place, and for that reason alone, it holds a special place in my heart.

Right around the corner from Salerno's was Jahn's Ice Cream Parlor (there was a Jahn's on Avenue U in Brooklyn too). Their specialty was whipping up big ice cream concoctions with names like Screwball's Delight, Pink Elephant, and of course, the outrageous Kitchen Sink...their ads said it was free if you could finish it. They gave you a free Sundae on your birthday too. Jahn's was a must stop after attending a double feature next door at the RKO Kieth's theater.

There were so many restaurants in Brooklyn, but I'll mention just one more...Lundy's. Located in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, Lundy's in its heyday was reported to be the largest restaurant in the United States, seating around 2500 people. After many successful years, the restaurant closed in 1977; a brief reprise came in 1997, not under Lundy family management, but the place just wasn't the same.
As my grandmother used to say, and I've taken her advice with great gusto: "Mangia".


Children's Craniofacial Association

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