The Corner of Park and Pasta

June 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm 3 comments

Some thoughts on the has-to-be-an Italian restaurant on the corner of 70th Ave., opposite McDonald Park one way, the post office the other. The location is unbeatable in its potential for a civilized and romantic meal, and I have sweet memories of eating a dish of pasta and drinking a glass of cheap red by myself on a mild summer late afternoon, my newborn daughter asleep by my side, while father&son caught some action across the street in the park with chess-playing representatives from myriad countries.

This is not to say that Positano (or any of the other names it has gone by over the past decade—I’m drawing a blank on this right now) had memorable food. But for sure, it had continuity. Every two years, like some bi-annual event without fail, the place closed and then reopened “under new management,” i.e., a new name and a reconfiguration of the tables/chairs. There was also the unchanging presence of a certain slow-moving older gentleman—owner? bartender? waiter? does anyone know?

Positano closed up yet again, unexpectedly, a few weeks ago, but this week it will be reopening as Casa Positano under fully new management and with a purportedly new vision. At least, that’s the word from Tom, the new owner who has 35+ years of restaurant experience under his belt. I sat down with him and his son (Tom Jr.) for a few minutes’ respite from the sweltering heat to chat them up on what exactly is going to be new on this corner of Forest Hills.

The two “themes” I came away with were a focus on the quality/taste of the food and the desire to create a warm atmosphere that customers can relate to. Both father and son kept reiterating this with sincerity, and not in a pushy, slick way. Tom Sr., who was born in Sicily and still carries his thick native accent, is throwing his heart and soul into things. He was all set to retire when he decided that he simply couldn’t, so perhaps his latest life chapter will bring good things to our eating landscape.

I took a quick peek at the menu, which seems solid enough (standard Italian fare; nothing newfangled or “gourmet” going on, and definitely no cheeseburgers), and this father&son also let me know that while they will not be serving alcohol, BYOB is fine but there will be a small cork charge although they couldn’t yet tell me what that will be. There’s also some hope that the place will once again serve brick-oven pizza. Over the various changes of hands and decor, the wood-burning oven was truncated at the back and the counter that made pizza-making possible was pulled out, probably to fit in another table to two. It was a real loss for those in who live in the Parker/Gerard Towers area and can’t always get over to Nick’s. But Tom, who has a pizza pedigree two boot, is already pondering how he can get that stove back up and running

Casa Positano opens this Thursday, with a lunch special and dinner. Reviews posted on this blog will be very welcome!

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Entry filed under: Forest Hills.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Laura  |  June 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    As a Parker/Gerard Tower dweller, here’s hoping! I’ll be sure to try it ASAP…especially since Bonfire Grill hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations. And I’m ecstatic that they’re going BYOB – given the wine selections of places like Bonfire Grill, I would prefer to bring my own wine, anyway!

    Thanks for the update!

    Reply
  • 2. Queens Central » Early June news roundup!  |  June 10, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    […] McDonald Park-adjacent Italian restaurant most recently known as Positano is changing hands. Again. The new name, purportedly, will be “Casa Positano.” Creative! The […]

    Reply
  • 3. Tommy Tune  |  June 12, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Re: “Park and Pasta Corner”………
    …..it has reopened as Casa Positano as of last night
    Weds, 6/11. I’m told these are “new owners” but I
    would be highly surprised if the old owner (who owned
    the joint when it was Il Pescatore, NOI 70 and Positanos)
    is totally out of the picture. Even with these past name changes,
    it was always that a “new owner” or “new manager” was
    on the scene…..and lo and behold, the same cast of characters
    would reemerge from the kitchen giving me serious flashbacks.

    The genteel old man who was omnipresent was a friend of mine named Giustino. I hear that his health is failing and I hope
    that he, if no-one else, reappears at the latest incarnation at
    the corner. Giustino is a throwback professional who had
    many stories to tell about all the celebs he feted in places over the years in Manhattan.

    Let’s hope that this reincarnation restaurant flourishes in an otherwise dead Forest Hills. It IS a fabulous location that has
    so much promise with the right mix of ambiance, good food,
    reasonable pricing, and better than funeral parlor keyboard
    accompaniment. Also, re: the influence of the Bukharan
    shrine now towering over Positanos, it can not necessarily
    decide the fate of this corner singly. I just hope that the new
    neighbor doesn’t see fit to build yet another one of those
    ghastly concrete block fortress edifices totally devoid of any greenery….with the obligatory cheap plastic awnings that
    line more and more streets in Forest Hills and Rego Park.
    Ye olde English Tudor architecture is become quickly passe
    with the local zoning commission and City Councilor Melinda
    Katz obviously on the Bukharan payroll at this point.

    Here’s to hope for a good restaurant at Park and Pasta corner!

    Reply

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