Mr. Circo first unrolled the shady green awning on his Bushwick dolceria in 1945. Classic neon letters glowed through the night above the storefront, and the large windows glowed in the early morning as Circo prepared specialties for his early customers. In 1966, Nino Pierdipino moved from Italy to Brooklyn and soon joined Circo in his shop. Along with his sons Salvatore and Anthony, Pierdipino continues to carry out Circo's vision by waking the neighborhood each day with an aromatic alarm clock of fresh biscotti, pastachote, and cannoli. While shaping French and Italian pastries, Salvatore and Anthony not only call upon their father's trusted methods but also make use of their studies at the Culinary Institute of America. Their specialties can be ordered in large amounts to serve at weddings, birthdays, holiday gatherings, or for one college wrestler trying to move up a weight class.
At Cupcake Chica, bakers dole out a variety of petite pastries every day, delivering them to homes and offices throughout the city. Classic french vanilla and chocolate confections share billing on the menu with more whimsical concoctions such as coconut, dulce de leche, and mint chocolate chip. Customers can dive further into miniaturized desserts with cake and cheesecake pops or order custom full-sized cakes to celebrate birthdays or impending tax audits.
With a terrace and garden, it's a grand scene seemingly plucked straight from Greece, and one that continues in the luxurious dining room, which features exposed brick walls, lush drapery, and elegant chandeliers.
But as visually appealing as Cavo's décor may be, executive chef Rory O'Farrell does his part to ensure eyes can't look away from his food. Chef O'Farrell's artfully arranged dishes arrive at tables in the form of Greek specialties, such as pan-seared Chilean sea bass or moussaka, layers of eggplant, spiced meat, and baked béchamel, heirloom tomato watermelon and feta cheese salad and the Phillo Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with honey. To drink, bartenders pour specialty cocktails and imported beers for guests.
Had the butchers of Aaron’s Gourmet not been hired to prepare glatt kosher meats for delivery, they could perhaps have survived by manufacturing Russian matryoshka dolls—they have a knack for nesting. Supervised by Rabbi Israel Mayer Steinberg, Aaron's Gourmet's menu boasts many versions of poultries collapsed inside of each other, from turduckens—a hen inside of a duck inside of a turkey—to gooseduckenquails, a similar concoction that begins with a quail and ends with a goose. These creations join an encyclopedic list that includes exotic cuts of pheasant and oxtail, traditional slabs of Black Angus and smoked salmon, organic meats, and grass-fed roasts. Once Aaron’s processes an order, which can be made online, by fax, over the phone, or by smoke signal from an empty grill, the company generally ships the package overnight via UPS. Additionally, Aaron’s can cater for groups of up to 500 people, building holiday meals or barbecue-style cookouts from meats that can be prepared in American, Japanese, European, or Middle Eastern styles.
Il Bambino owners Darren and Melanie Lawless let their ingredients speak for themselves. The couple may spend a lot of time procuring top-notch produce, meats, and cheeses, but that’s where the bulk of their work ends. When Darren finally rolls up his sleeves in the kitchen, his goal is not to drastically alter his ingredients but to prepare them in simple ways that call attention to their individual flavors. Il Bambino has earned some serious praise for this minimalistic approach. The Huffington Post, for example, claims the restaurant has “the best paninis outside of Italy.” When crafting these paninis, Darren starts with freshly baked ciabbatina bread, which he tops with international ingredients such as apricot butter, porchetta, and sautéed luggage tags. These paninis—as well as the restaurant’s extensive menus of tapas and crostini—trace their inspirations back to Darren and Melanie’s travels throughout Europe.
By integrating Greek ingredients into American favorites, Pita Pan distinguishes itself from the dozens of other Greek spots that crowd Astoria. Witness the Mucho Meat pizza, which comes topped with beef, chicken, and pork gyros as well as bacon, ham, and Greek sausage. Or take the Greek burger, a sandwich of USDA prime beef, feta and kasseri cheeses, and tzatziki in a whole-wheat pita. Of course, there are also purely Greek dishes such as souvlaki chicken skewers and falafel plates. After finishing their meals, diners can cool their palates with a fresh fruit smoothie or soothe their sunburnt shoulders with a thick slathering of tiramisu.