Time for School Vouchers

The mayor announced the elimination of the Gifted & Talented program, which gives a step up to our most promising students.

This decision by the mayor has been a long time coming, and is a last-ditch, scorched-earth policy before he leaves office that burdens the rest of the education system.

The ever growing gaps in a failing system will get wider. The numbers over the last eight years of the de Blasio administration are abysmal.

Roughly 22 percent of the 1.1 million children in the public school system can pass one of the statewide test in math and English. In the Bronx, there are some schools that have a 4 percent passing rate.

When are the parents of this city going to wake up and demand a proper education for our students?

Your tax dollars fund the school system to a tune of over $32 billion a year and growing.

I am a staunch advocate for private vouchers, which gives parents a choice of where to send their child and not be subject to sending a student to a failing local school.

As of 2021, New York City spends over $27,000 per student. My plan is to give $15,000 vouchers to parents for private school education, redeemable to the city comptroller by the schools.

This would save the city $12,000 per student and drastically reduce classroom sizes, allowing students to get the attention they deserve and actually learn something.

The best part of having a choice in where your child goes to school is that you can shop around and make a decision that is best for you, not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Another benefit to this system is saving any of the voucher not used for tuition for college. Student loan debt is one of the biggest gripes for graduates.

We can hope that better minds prevail in a new administration and our children’s educational future.

Thomas Zmich is the Republican candidate for Queens borough president.

Tallest office building in Brooklyn opens

Last Tuesday morning, 1 Willoughby Square opened its doors in Downtown Brooklyn, officially making it the tallest office building in the borough.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, representatives from JEMB Realty Corporation, and officials from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) attended a special ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the milestone.

“The opening of 1 Willoughby marks a huge turning point in our recovery,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the event. “Over a year ago, as the city shut down to save lives, we could have only dreamed of celebrating the opening of a brand-new office tower.

“We got knocked down but we got back up,” he added. “Here we have positive proof that New York City is open for business. ”

“We are confident that it will add to the growth of Downtown Brooklyn,” said JEMB representative Morris Jerome. “As we are coming out of this pandemic, it is our sincere hope that the tenants of this building will help local small businesses emerge from the pandemic.”

The building is 34 stories and offers approximately 500,000 square feet of office space. The building is the work of architecture firm FXCollaborative, who first proposed the project in 2014. The firm is also moving 100 members of its own workforce into the completed building, making them the property’s first tenants.

The space includes a gym, locker rooms, showers, employee lounge, and private outdoor space for tenants. In the future, the building will include a 332-seat public elementary school on its first six floors.

FXCollaborative’s proposal for 1 Willoughby Square originally included an ambitious underground parking facility and public park space. However, both of these elements were abandoned during construction due to a lack of funding.

Rendering courtesy of FXCollaborative.

Photos by nycmayorsoffice on Flickr.

Bodypainting Day in New York

The eighth annual Bodypainting Day was celebrated in Union Square over the weekend. The event was hosted by Brooklyn artist Andy Golub and his nonprofit Human Connection Arts (HCA), and featured a number of 26 artists painting 45 nude models.

The year’s theme was resilience, as well as a focus on body positivity.

“I think it’s important to show that New York City is getting better,” said Rocket Osborne, a New York City-based architect.

For four hours, models of all shapes and sizes served as human canvasses, as bystanders took photos and video.

After getting painted, the group marched to Washington Square Park for a photo shoot at the iconic arch. The group then took a double-decker bus to an afterparty at HCA in Greenpoint.

Golub is known for his human canvas paintings, often painting numerous models and then arranging them for an even bigger piece of art.

“We painted a whole bunch of people and it’s going to look like an Andy Golub at the end because he’s going to go over with his black lining,” said Tom Sebazco, an Astoria-based artist.

BEST PLACES TO CATCH A GAME

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As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, every once in a while here at “BEST OF THE BEST,” we take a look-see around town so as to catch up on some terrific places to take in a sporting event or two. With baseball behind us now, and football front and center, we thought we’d share with you a couple of our recent faves. Here we go again, folks, “BEST PLACES TO CATCH A GAME” – Round Three!

Rego Park

ERN’S PLACE

67-63 Woodhaven Blvd

(718) 830-6226

Looking for something with a little bit of old-fashioned home-iness to it? ERN’S PLACE on Woodhaven Boulevard is just such a place, what with its oh-so-charming red and white checked tablecloths and its merry band of regulars. Not only that, but in addition to a number of Monday Night Football beer specials, make sure you get yourself an order of Chef Danny’s delectable wings (especially his Jack Wings). Tender and tasty, they are very much worth the trip, and you should also ask about a couple of their other flavor varieties as well. By the way, a tip of the cap as always to your personable and friendly hosts Ern and Felicia, and to the fact that all year round, the burgers here are just the way we like em, smokey and charred, and juicy and flavorful through and through.

Woodside

SEAN OG’S

60-02 Woodside Ave

(718) 899-3499

The crowds at one of Woodside’s most well-known watering holes are what watching sports together is all about. At once feisty and friendly, SEAN OG’S has an incredibly loyal following that makes for a rather fun time overall, especially on weekend afternoons or Monday Night Football. But what makes the place really stand out is how long and spacious the bar is, the first thing you notice upon entering. And now that owner Jimmy O’Sullivan’s also got the WOODSIDE CAFÉ’S kitchen attached at the hip next door, you also get to avail yourself of some pretty darn tasty food in the meantime, like one of our absolute favorites, their Woodside Burger.

Ridgewood

GOTTSCHEER HALL

657 Fairview Ave

(718) 366-3030

Hey, why settle for burgers and wings when you can dig into some Spaetzle and Potato Pancakes and Krainer & Kraut! Did you know, folks, that The Tap Room at GOTTSCHEER HALL hosts a free buffet every football Sunday at 4:00 pm? That’s right. And how ‘bout this, if you show up on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, your first beer is just a dollar so long as you’re ordering food. What can we say, there’s a coziness and an old world charm to GOTTSCHEER HALL that has definitely made it one of our favorite neighborhood bars. (And they’ve even got some terrific local musicians now and again, so make sure you check out www.GottscheerHall.com from time to time.)

Glen Oaks

TAVERN 18

265-11 Union Turnpike

(718) 347-4846

Love, love, love the cozy lounge area just around the corner as you enter TAVERN 18, off of bustling Union Turnpike. Even if there were no game on, just to immerse yourself in those dark brown leather chairs for a moment… quite a relaxing way to unwind after a busy day. Anyway, there’s a high-definition television screen up above, and if you’re smart, while you’re sipping your draft beer, you’ll already have ordered some Lobster and Shrimp Spring Rolls – or even better, their Kobe Beef Sliders. TAVERN 18 boasts some top-of-the-list hearty fare, and if the game gets a tad “one-sided,” shall we say, we definitely urge you to slip into the dining room for a steak. (Closed Mondays by the way, sorry.)

Greenpoint

RED STAR BAR

37 Greenpoint Avenue

(718) 349-0149

RED STAR BAR is without question one of our new favorite sports bars. For one thing, the place is absolutely huge – two floors even – and still manages to get pretty packed on any given Sunday. With more than a dozen draft beers to go with their dozen or so Vizio flatscreens, what really makes RED STAR BAR’s reputation is the artistry with which Executive Chef John Manzo concocts his fabulous chicken wings. By the way, if we mention the figure of 1000 pounds of chicken a week, that might impress you, no? “Yeah, chickens all across the country are quaking in their cages when they think about RED STAR,” says General Manager Eric Hall with a wry grin. And given that Sundays are all about the pigskin anyway, make sure you complement same with Manzo’s fantastic Pulled Pork Sliders, served with B&B; pickles and cheddar cheese sauce, and easily the best we’ve ever had!

Forest Hills

MARDI GRAS

70-20 Austin Street

(718) 261-8555

Since this seems to be pretty much the year of the New Orleans Saints at this point, what better place to cheer on Drew Brees and company than at MARDI GRAS, an authentic-looking little bistro right on Austin Street where you can definitely “laissez les bon temps roulez.” Beer specials abound here on football Sundays, and the food is both delicious and reasonably priced. Just as they do in The Big Easy, they’ve got a terrific Muffuletta here, but what we can’t help craving whenever we’re in the area is one of their exceptional Po Boys (Fried Catfish or Blackened Chicken especially). Hey, by the way, during the week MARDI GRAS also has a really cool French Quarter Lunch Menu you’ve got to check out – with entrees for as little as $5. Now, how can you beat that?

Got a favorite spot of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!

BEST PLACES TO GRAB SOME BREAKFAST

Sure is weird having that early-morning daylight back again, isn’t it? Kind of makes you want to cram even more activity into your already-busy morning (knowing the darkness that lies ahead at the other end of the day). Well, folks, for that you’re going to need energy… which is why you’re hereby advised NOT to skip the most important meal of the day, and one of our personal favorites – breakfast!

Maspeth

GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY

69-25 Grand Avenue

(718) 457-2006

Folks, when there’s a line forming at the counter at 5:00 am, that’s got to tell you something, right? Regular readers of these pages already know how fond we are of the considerable charms of the GLENDALE BAKE SHOP. Early weekday mornings, you just might find us sitting there with our Coconut Custard or Walnut Strip, accompanied, of course, by a terrific cup of coffee. But lately, we have fallen for a new taste treat here – their 2 Egg, Pepperoni, Monterey Jack Omelette on a Kaiser Roll. (And you know how much we love melted cheese at “BEST OF THE BEST”!) The tanginess of the pepperoni, the silkiness of the melted cheese, the fluffiness of the Kaiser Roll – what can we say, this is one of the truly scrumptious ways to get us going in the morning, and we’re pretty sure you’ll feel the same way.

Forest Hills/Rego Park/Glendale

ESPARKS COFFEE

89-05 Metropolitan Avenue

NO PHONE.

Right on the triangle that borders Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Glendale (Cooper Avenue and Metro, to be exact) sits one of the coziest (and cleanest!) places you’re going to find for your morning cup of java and more. While the danish and pastry courtesy of Astoria’s LA GULI are definitely quite promising, what really wins us over every time here are the bargain-priced Bagel Specials they’ve got in the mornings. Our favorite: the Ham, Egg, and Cheese on a Bagel – brought to you fresh in a basket – which costs you just $2.65 and includes a pretty sizable “medium” cup of coffee! No matter what ails us, that kind of bargain always puts a smile on our face. Most of the times we’ve been there, it’s been the lovely Michaela or Leahan who’ve been providing the efficient and friendly service. And if you’re lucky, they’ll be there when you stop in, too.

Ridgewood

RIDGEWOOD EATS

903 Seneca Avenue

(718) 366-3287

If you’re thinking of RIDGEWOOD EATS as just a diner, then you’ve obviously never been inside. And if you’re thinking of it as merely a coffee shop, well then you just haven’t tried enough of their menu offerings, have you? Folks, what can we say, but this is where Ridgewood eats, and honestly, should they really head anywhere but? Service here is among the very best you’re going to find, and everything is oh-so-reasonably priced. Egg dishes, omelettes, pancakes, French Toast, even the more-than-we-could-handle “Lumberjack Special” (Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Ham, Sausage) are all standouts, and among the many reasons owner John Contemto’s seen the place thrive these five years and still going strong. But our favorite thing about the place: the all-American country cottage accoutrements all around you (very soothing as you linger before heading off to work), and that RIDGEWOOD EATS logo on our coffee mug is definitely a nice touch, too!

Woodside

WOODSIDE CAFE

60-06 Woodside Avenue

(718) 899-3499

I’m sure we’ll get a lot of grief for this – but folks, this is the best Irish Breakfast we have ever had (especially the Black Pudding and the White Pudding!) Not only that, but the WOODSIDE CAFÉ is just so darn attractive. Remember the days when your favorite coffee shop looked clean and tidy, with an emphasis on the kind of fun and eye-catching design that made 50’s and 60’s era diners so popular? Well, in a neighborhood with not all that much light thanks to the elevated 7 train thundering overhead, owner Jimmy O’Sullivan’s created an airy oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of a neighborhood constantly on the go. We’re even charmed by the aesthetic appeal of the very cups, dishes, etc. your food and drink are served in. What can we say, but please check this place out, you’ll be glad that you did.

Astoria

IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFE

22-26 31st Street

(718) 726-7700

The Panagiotopolous Family started in the ice cream business at this location (hence, the name), but at their patrons’ request began to offer a wider variety of menu items – burgers, sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, etc. And, folks, we are so very glad that they did! One of the brightest and most charming cafes you may ever encounter, pancakes and waffles are among the things they do the very best of here, as well as their challah bread French Toast. Fluffy, golden brown, buttery, syrupy – it just doesn’t get any better than this, people. We’re also big fans of their Breakfast Burrito or Breakfast Wrap (and those waffle-cut fries), especially for hot-to-trot Astorians on the go. To top it all off, the coffee is quite good here, too – lattes, cappuccinos, etc. – and always served with a smile. Eight years now and going strong definitely says a lot for the considerable appeal of this neighborhood favorite.

Williamsburg

GARDEN GRILL

318 Graham Avenue

(718) 384-8668

GARDEN GRILL is one of the top-notch diner/coffee shop experiences in our area. Not only do they offer a number of reasonably priced potato ’n’ egg breakfast combinations (with some truly noteworthy home fries!), but in our humble opinion, not too many do breakfast meats better – moist, not too dry, strips of thick bacon; and some of the juiciest, plumpest sausage around. But it’s really the service here that makes the place so very special. Stop in even just a few times, and that familiar face who’s always so attentive to refilling your coffee might even know your name by now. Hey, even if you’re just stopping by up front for a coffee and a cruller, we’ve no doubt you’ll be so pleased you’ll linger longer next time. Yes, father and son Chris and Gus Karasakalides sure do have a lot to be proud of here.

Maspeth

FAME DINER & RESTAURANT

69-67 Grand Avenue

(718) 478-4674

There’s a distinct energy to FAME in the mornings, a “hustle and bustle” if you will, that lets you know that you are in one of the neighborhood’s premiere gathering places. Quick and reliable service from waitresses who know you by name at this point is the hallmark of this establishment, not to mention a great cup of coffee and a wide variety of egg dishes and omelettes. We’re also really fond of their Corned Beef Hash and their Irish Breakfast, as well. Your food always comes piping hot, which not everyone this popular is able to pull off. Best thing about FAME, though? It’s so reasonably priced, we’re sure you’ll be a regular before you know it.

Middle Village

MATSON’S DELICATESSEN

64-66 Dry Harbor Road

(718) 894-6307

Anthony Saieva’s been a Yankee hater all his life (all thirteen years of it, anyway), which is probably why during this long winter, he’s going to need to fortify himself with more than a few of the very distinct creation he concocted for mom Louise at MATSON’S DELI in Middle Village. The “Anthony Wrap” is a perfect blend of three eggs, pastrami, and pepper jack cheese – with just a dash of ketchup to take the edge off the pastrami – and is absolutely one of our favorite pick-me-ups in the morning. Top that off with one of the best cups of coffee you’re going to find anywhere, and that makes MATSON’S DELI just about the perfect place to pop in and grab something in the morning before you trundle out again for your long and busy day.

Rego Park

ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI

63-56 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 507-0839

Whether you’re “Guy The Writer,” “Wally B.S.” or any of the cops, firefighters, doctors, lawyers, etc. who might stop in here, everybody who visits ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI gets called “Boss” – but with a tremendous sense of affection and respect. It’s a great place to come for quick and great service, and their bagels – proudly on display right before your eyes the moment you enter – are always fresh. The other thing, they really know how to melt butter here, and any toasted, buttered bagel – Salt, Onion, Everything – always puts a particularly sunny smile on our face. It should be pointed out that ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI is open 24 hours, and while some of their other breakfast offerings (like the Big Bite on a Roll!) are pretty great, so too are their heroes and paninis like “The God Father,” or their “Here’s The Beef.” Not only that, but it’s also the perfect place to pick up a newspaper while you’re waiting!

Ridgewood

MIKE & MARIA’S DELI

62-04 68th Avenue

(718) 386-1988

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Regular readers of these pages know what big fans we are of MIKE & MARIA’S sandwiches, and breakfast-time is no different. Our two favorite things about the place in the morning – their rolls, and their expertise in melted cheese (a “BEST OF THE BEST” staple!) Whether it’s the M train you’re headed to, or maybe the Q-58 or the B-13, you’d do well to stop in here first and grab a Bacon, Egg and Cheese, or a Ham, Egg, and Cheese on a roll, because considering how little money you’re going to spend on it, you’re going to get a whole lot of satisfaction for it. Which is really how every day ought to begin, no?

Long Island City

NEW YORK DINER

49-09 Northern Boulevard

(718) 626-8857

Remember when your favorite diner was shaped like a railroad car? You probably thought there weren’t any more of those around. Well, get yourself over to Northern Boulevard then, a stone’s throw from BEST BUY, and check this one out for yourself. Besides incredible ambience – booths on the left, counter on the right – you’ve got some of the best potato ‘n’ egg breakfast dishes in Queens here (and so reasonably priced!) as well as some fantastic pancakes and waffles that are sure to make you a regular. But our favorite thing about the place really is the way patrons are greeted upon arrival and welcomed as if they’ve just entered your home. Now, there’s something you don’t see too much of anymore. And you know what, it makes a difference!

Williamsburg

THE BAGEL STORE

247 Bedford Avenue

(718) 218-7244

Well, this is absolutely the largest bagel emporium we ever did see, what with its expansive seating area, and huge cathedral-style two story windows looking out onto Bedford and North 3rd. But more importantly, this is an establishment which prides itself on even bigger flavors. The bagels are top-notch, chewy, doughy, tasty, but it’s the spreads where they excel here: Pumpkin cream cheese, Cake Batter cream cheese, Cannoli cream cheese, in fact, more than you can even take in at first glance. And then there’s this unforgettable creation – their French Toast Bagel, which is best enjoyed with, yep, butter and syrup. Our favorite thing about the BAGEL STORE, though? The way the congenial woman at the cash register tells each and every patron, “Enjoy your bagel, have a nice day!” Hey, every little bit helps, right?

Got a favorite spot of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!

BEST PLACES TO THROW YOUR PARTY

Wow, December already? That sure was fast. Holidays just around the corner, and you know what that means – it’s holiday party time! What can we say, it’s been a tough year all around, but haven’t we all earned the right to celebrate a little bit as it finally winds down. Anyway, there’s a whole host of places we kind of like here at “BEST OF THE BEST,” so we thought we’d at least share a few with you. But you’d better hurry, because time’s a wasting…

Ridgewood

GOTTSCHEER HALL

657 Fairview Avenue

(718) 366-3030

We love the cozy, convivial ambience here. And we love the authentic German cuisine, too – spaetzle, leberkaese, and more – not to mention the nice selection of German beers on tap. So if you’re looking for a little old-world charm to your holiday party, how about giving Will Osanitsch a call and considering GOTTSCHEER HALL? And if it’s your very first time, we’re sure it won’t be your last!

Maspeth

CONNOLLY’S CORNER

71-15 Grand Avenue

(718) 565-7383

One of the most spacious party rooms around – literally on the “corner” – this is the perfect place to have a private gathering for up to 70-80 people, with most importantly, an exceptional menu to go along with it. No doubt reservations are flying fast and furious, so you’d best contact Matt or Pat Connolly soon to book your gathering.

Rego Park

JOE ABBRACCIAMENTO

62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 478-6463

One of the best in the game, this catering hall can host quite a few parties at once, given how much real estate they’ve got right there on Woodhaven (including the site of the old Drake Theater). But more to the point, what you get here is exceptional service, and some of the best tasting Italian food around.

Floral Park

BOB’S PLACE

230 Jericho Turnpike

(516) 354-8185

BOB’S PLACE is absolutely one of our new favorite restaurants, and we’re sure it’ll soon be one of yours, too. As intriguing and eclectic as its design is, so too is their menu – a blend called New American that features combinations of flavors and textures that you’ll find as savory as they are impressive. With so many nooks and crannies to this attractive venue, count on Bob Manning to find the perfect location within for your get-together, and count on exceptional service here from the very moment you arrive.

Greenpoint

RED STAR BAR

37 Greenpoint Avenue

(718) 349-0149

We just can’t help loving the idea of a two-story sports bar – especially when you get to have the whole second floor to yourself! And with your own private bar! Looking for a place to host a big party, why not give General Manager Eric Hall a call and we’re sure he can hook you up. (And by the way, once you try the fantastic food here, you may never think of it as just a sports bar again!)

Ridgewood

KIDS FUN HOUSE

62-73 Fresh Pond Road

(718) 418-5437

Maybe your holiday party is going to be kids-oriented? Well, we couldn’t think of a better place than KIDS FUN HOUSE, a bright, splashy colorful event space that even has the grownups feeling well taken care of. Aga Dojlidko and her staff provide exceptional service and attention to detail to young and old alike, but where KIDS FUN HOUSE really shines is their theme parties, so please make sure you visit their website www.KidsFunHouse.com, or visit them in person to check the place out.

Forest Hills

PLASTER PARTY PLACE

96-09 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 263-0960

Speaking of kids, we’re also big fans of the world of Plaster Craft painting, one of the most enjoyable, inexpensive and easy crafts available. (And adults get to participate, too.) This is one of our favorite venues for same, and there are plenty of different party packages available, just give them a call!

Williamsburg

LA LOCANDA

432 Graham Avenue

(718) 349-7800

We really love what Cono and Maria Colombo have done with what was formerly their backyard here, in creating a charming and intimate party room perfect for a moderate-size gathering. It’s got the feeling of an outdoor Italian courtyard without any of the concerns that an actual outdoor site would involve. Not only that, but you get that fantastic LA LOCANDA cuisine arriving at your table piping hot, thanks to a separate entrance from the kitchen. There’s even a separate bar for your party’s exclusive use.

Maspeth

O’NEILL’S

64-21 53rd Drive

(718) 672-9696

Depending upon how large your party is, there are any number of spaces by which O’NEILL’S can accommodate you, but we can’t help admiring the newest of them, “The New York Room,” an elegant looking brick party room with a separate entrance on 65th Place. Portraits of New York from another era lend a bit of class to the setting, and whether it’s pizza, Porterhouse, or seafood you’ve chosen – rest assured, they’ve definitely got their act together here, and you can count on your private party to be as exceptional as the O’NEILL’S menu offerings you’ve come to love.

Astoria

STUDIO SQUARE

35-33 36th Street

(718) 383-1001

Space, space, space is the hallmark of this latest entrant to the beer garden game. Especially for those looking for a somewhat hip and trendy venue in which to gather, STUDIO SQUARE’s beer selection and intriguing menu will make your holiday gathering stand out by far. Given its beer garden rep, STUDIO SQUARE indoors gets under-rated somewhat, but if you’re interested, you should give Amy or Melissa a call, or visit www.StudioSquareNYC.com.

Long Island City

THE RAVEL HOTEL

808 Queens Plaza South

(718) 289-6101

The RAVEL HOTEL is one of the most exquisite new venues around, and have quickly developed a reputation for South Beach-style luxury. Its Long Island City location gives it a spectacular view of Manhattan, and if you’re looking for something special for your holiday party or corporate get-together, this most definitely would be the place to do so. Most definitely!

Williamsburg

GIANDO ON THE WATER

400 Kent Avenue

(718) 387-7000

Nestled just beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, this is one of our favorite spots from which to view the Manhattan skyline. Your party is seated with the East River tableside, and while enjoying the spectacular ambience, you also get to avail yourself of some delectable classic Italian cuisine. Now if that ain’t Brooklyn, folks, then we don’t know what is!

Got a favorite spot of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!

BEST PLACES TO HEAD FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Here we go, folks! Winter officially here, snow on the ground, and the holidays right around the corner. And like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Isn’t it? Come on, isn’t it? Hello???

Forest Hills/Glendale

A.C. MOORE ARTS & CRAFTS

89-89 Union Turnpike

(718) 846-3718

Maybe this is the year you’re thinking a bit of a home-made Christmas might be more in order. Well, then, A.C. MOORE ARTS & CRAFTS will be like Pandora’s Box for you! First of all, you’ve definitely got a seemingly endless assortment of Folk Art paints from which to choose. Not to mention all manner of stickers, stencils, glitter, stamp pads, you name it. Plus an aisle full of wooden baskets to get you at least halfway towards your own version of a gift basket. And if you’re looking for fun little stocking stuffers, the place has got oodles and oodles of them, but one of our favorites is right there at the door as you walk in, a little tin Cookie Mailbox for Santa, you’ll see!

Rego Park/Middle Village

ANNE’S TREELAND

64-33 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 897-1685

You can’t miss Anne McGreevy’s ANNE’S TREELAND on Woodhaven, what with its eye-catching banner sprawled so boldly along the boulevard. McGreevy and her family have been at it for 25 years now, and are already well on the way towards the next generation’s involvement. Loyal customers from near and far know full well the quality and reliability that a tree purchased here stands for, but it should also be pointed out that not only does McGreevy benefit from an excellent location, but her heart’s in the right place, too, and she and her family dedicate their holiday efforts to helping out “Autism Speaks” every year, as well.

Glendale

THE FAIR

The Shops At Atlas Park

8000 Cooper Avenue

(718) 417-5206

Look, no matter what you’re shopping for this holiday, you’ve got to at least take a stroll through Atlas Park at some point. Something you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. One of our favorite destinations here is without question one of the finest housewares stores in the area, an abundant little place called THE FAIR, which really ought to be called THE EXCELLENT, judging by their great selection of cookware, glassware, candles, bedding, draperies, and so much more. When they say “Everything For The Home Here,” they really mean it!

Rockaway Park

THE BLUE BUNGALOW

165 Beach 91st Street

(718) 318-4663

Liz Smith Breslin and Jeanne Jamin have cornered the market on cozy and quaint here in their two-story Rockaway boutique. Their eclectic collection of home furnishings, antiques, picture frames, and other assorted hand-made gifts are the perfect way to bring a timeless beach feeling (the ultimate in nostalgia!) into the life of your someone special. And please visit them on the web at www.thebluebungalow.com for a fuller appreciation of same!

Greenpoint

GREENPOINT TOY CENTER

736 Manhattan Avenue

(718) 383-3437

One of our favorite toy stores, what makes the GREENPOINT TOY CENTER stand apart from so many others is the attention to detail that proprietors Herman and Nancy Hernandez put into everything. This is not a huge electronics or gadget-oriented toy store, but it’s definitely one of the most fun to browse through, given what a tremendous variety is on hand: LEGO, HASBRO, LEAP FROG, MELISSA & DOUG. And probably one of the best things about the place, they offer a no-fuss 60-day layaway option, something that just might come in a little handier this year.

Long Island City

BEST BUY

50-01 Northern Boulevard

(718) 626-7585

The sheer expanse of this Long Island City big box store definitely makes you feel like, yes, you’ve come to a place that truly knows what it’s doing; something their staff prove to be so every single time we visit. Whether you’re looking for a laptop, a camera, a cellphone, or just some DVD’s or CD’s, the number of selections here will probably astound you if you’re a first time visitor (and yet, it’s all organized in a very efficient, easy-to-find, clutter-free manner). Of course, where BEST BUY really makes their mark – their service plans for some of their higher-end items, and that unflinchingly reliable GEEK SQUAD, the ones who always manage to make our “technical difficulties” seem like nothing, nothing at all.

Maspeth

69th ST. BEER & SODA

55-13 69th Street

(718) 478-5493

Nick Bamonte is one of our favorite neighborhood good guys, and what you get here at 69th ST. BEER & SODA is some friendlier service than you might find in other such establishments. No matter what your holiday party needs, you can count on a decent selection of imports and domestics, with reasonable prices to match. Where 69th ST. BEER & SODA really shines, though, is their willingness to let you mix and match without too much of a hassle.

Williamsburg

L&P; WINES & LIQUORS

633 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 388-2140

L&P; has one of the most impressive inventories we’ve seen in our travels, running half a block deep off of Metropolitan Avenue and featuring a selection of top of the line scotches, vodkas, tequilas, you name it. And, of course, the variety of wines they offer continues to expand week by week. The folks here are getting quite a neighborhood reputation with the frequent tastings they host – wine, vodka, rum, tequila – so stop in and visit them before the holiday rush. (And by the way, if you’re looking for a unique holiday gift, ask to look at the hand-sculpted metal bottle holders they’ve got, they’ve got such personality!)

Astoria

LA GULI PASTRY SHOP

29-15 Ditmars Boulevard

(718) 728-5612

No question one of the best pastry shops in Queens, it’s always holiday-time when you step in here off of Ditmars. The Notaro Family, who’ve operated LA GULI for more than 70 years now, are known for their terrific cannoli and gelato, but especially their exquisite cookies – all numbered and showcased to perfection to make some hard choices a little bit easier! Anyway, make sure you head in here real soon and pick yourself up a box (or two!) – your family will thank you profusely.

Clinton Hill

MONIQUE’S UNIQUE CAKES

www.MoniquesUniqueCakes.com

(718) 789-1712

We absolutely adore Monique Martin’s holiday-themed cupcakes, but especially around Christmas and Easter. So buttery, so creamy, so unforgettably scrumptious. And the intricacy of her design-work? Always picture perfect. You’re definitely going to want to visit her on the web to see for yourself. And that, of course, would be at www.MoniquesUniqueCakes.com!

Bayside

BOURBON STREET

40-12 Bell Boulevard

(718) 224-2200

Given what a tremendous sense of community this restaurant engenders, it’s no wonder that Santa chose it as one of his first places for a pit stop this season. That’s Sunday December 13th, from 12:00 to 2:00 pm, wherein not only do you get to have brunch with Santa, but kids under 12 get a free give-away and a picture with Old St. Nick, too. (By the way, as part of BOURBON STREET’S “Toys for Tots” Program, an unwrapped toy will earn you $10 off your next meal of $50 or more here.)

Middle Village/Rego Park

LONDON LENNIE’S

63-88 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 894-8084

If the gorgeous Christmas trees adorning the roof aren’t your first clue – you should know by now that longtime neighborhood standout LONDON LENNIE’S really goes all out for the holidays, too. (And how about those “life-size” toy soldiers out front!) We can’t recommend LONDON LENNIE’S heartily enough. The family business is almost 50 years old at this point, and second-generation proprietor Leslie Barnes has definitely done his Dad proud in maintaining the loftiest of standards, such as the finest of fresh seafood, an unparalleled raw bar, and the ultimate in customer service. Which is exactly what you want when your get-together is meant to be extra special.

Williamsburg

SCHOOLYARD

CHRISTMAS TREES

North 7th Street (between

Driggs and Bedford)

(917) 747-4450

Residents of this neighborhood have long ago come to appreciate the staying power and tremendous quality offered by Brooklyn born-and-raised Paul Pennolino and Philip Caponegro (and Paul, Jr!) at this convenient tree lot on North 7th Street. They’ve got hundreds of trees to choose from, haven’t raised their prices in six years now, and offer free delivery locally. (FYI, Pennolino has another lot as well, located on Union Avenue, between Meeker and Metropolitan – that’s where you’ll find his sons James and David, as well as some really great Christmas music!)

Ridgewood

ART COVE

60-09 Myrtle Avenue

(718) 381-7782

Looking to fashion yourself an old-fashioned Christmas the way Grandma used to do? ART COVE is one of the most quaint, charming such places you’re going to find. This is where you go for those hard-to-find patterns of ribbons and bows, tree trimming sundries, and other holiday accessories – ornaments, gift wrap, stocking stuffers, etc. – that make this time of year so memorable. (And they should know, they’ve been doing it for 40 years.) By the way, special thanks to loyal reader Michelle Lopez for turning us on to the place!

Maspeth

STOKES CARDS & GIFTS

69-21 Grand Avenue

(718) 446-5638

We’re really impressed by what a cool selection of Christmas ideas they’ve got here on Grand Avenue. Besides just a fantastic variety of greeting cards and ornaments, Yankee fans especially will be pleased to note how many different gift ideas there are to celebrate the team’s most recent World Series success. And for the littlest among us, make sure you ask about some of the Melissa & Doug offerings they’ve got here, and take a look inside at their Precious Moments showcase, too!

Glendale

BORDERS

The Shops At Atlas Park

8000 Cooper Avenue

(718) 416-1003

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Once again, folks, if there’s ever a time to visit Atlas Park, it’s Christmas time most definitely (because even Santa does!) By now you’ve probably realized that BORDERS is far more than just a bookstore, but this incarnation of same sure does stand out as a cornucopia of holiday gift ideas. Especially for kids, there’s a nice selection towards the left as you head in, and we’ve no doubt you’ll even find something worth your while as you’re waiting to pay for your purchase. Keep your eyes peeled, there are many, many gift options ALL AROUND YOU!

Williamsburg

BROOKLYNSKI

351 Graham Avenue

(718) 389-0901

If there’s a more eclectic and charming gift shop – well, folks, we haven’t seen it yet. The inventory here is constantly changing – like an art gallery almost – but rest assured, this is the perfect place to do some Graham Avenue browsing, whether it’s a loved one you’re contemplating – or even some intriguingly witty children’s gifts (like “Giant Pop-Out Shapes!”). But then again, would we expect anything less from “Brooklyn”?!

Brooklyn Heights

NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM

corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street

(718) 694-1600

Pity this isn’t open at night, but if you’ve got an afternoon free, you might want to head over to the NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM for the NYC-aficionado in your life. Understandably subway-themed, gift ideas are the prime mover here, ranging from t-shirts and ties to scarfs, puzzles, and even chairs! (Not sure if the prices HERE get raised willy nilly, too, but you know what – probably best to check their website first, www.TransitMuseumStore.com, just to make sure!)

Middle Village

FUN STUFF/LIZ BALLOONS

75-22 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 326-1345

Boy they sure picked the right name for this place, huh? FUN STUFF, indeed. Even if you don’t end up buying anything (which would be pretty darn foolish!), make sure you bring your kids in here at some point during the holidays – you’re sure to be in their good graces until well into February! There’s a huge variety of playthings to choose from here, but what they do best is chocolate. And as for LIZ BALLOONS, well we’ve found Liz Kaslow herself to be an absolute master at creating characters out of balloons – something you’ll definitely need to get in there and see for yourself!

Forest Hills

AIGNER CHOCOLATES fka KRAUSE’S CANDY KITCHEN

103-02 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 544-1850

As if this candy confectioner’s dreamscape weren’t Christmas-y enough, a sign behind the counter reads “It’s A Wonderful Life”! Folks, we can’t say enough good things about Peter and Pia Aigner’s stewardship of long-time standout KRAUSE’S CANDY KITCHEN. Every single thing you feast your eyes on is going to prove absolutely scrumptious, but you know what, we’re always impressed by what a great selection of toys and children’s books they’ve got here, too. The Aigners obviously have their hearts in the right place – and it’s right here, quite frankly, with your children.

Maspeth

GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY

69-25 Grand Avenue

(718) 457-2006

The folks at GLENDALE BAKE SHOP always treat you special, no matter the time of year, but holiday time is always exceptionally special. While their cookies and pastries are on a par with some of the best we’ve ever had, we can’t help noticing that holiday season is “pie season” and for that reason, you are hereby advised to avail yourself of one of their rather special such creations before they all run out – offerings like Apple, Pecan, and Coconut Custard. You can thank us in January!

Williamsburg

FORTUNATO BROS. PASTICCERIA

289 Manhattan Avenue

(718) 387-2281

Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, Christmas at FORTUNATO BROS. is more than just a tradition, it’s an event! The abundance of choices here is staggering, and quite honestly, not too many do Christmas cookies better. If you wait too long to make your holiday purchases, consider yourselves forewarned – the lines here can sometimes run you out the door. Just a little more proof positive that you’re absolutely in the right place – so make sure you hang in there!

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Middle Village

UVARARA

79-28 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 894-0052

We’ve absolutely loved UVARARA here at “BEST OF THE BEST” ever since the day it first opened. It’s one of the most charming, romantic restaurants you’re going to find in this area – and given what an unforgettable experience it is to dine here, is also rather inexpensive by comparison. The ambience here is always incredibly welcoming, but even more so at holiday time. If there’s a special someone you’d like to share the season with – or even if it’s just an opportunity to take a break from shopping and enjoy a glass of wine – UVARARA is absolutely the place you ought to be headed. (Because then when life gets a little less hectic, you can return here and linger a whole lot longer!)

Long Island City

MANDUCATI’S RUSTICA

46-35 Vernon Boulevard

(718) 937-1312

We’ve long been big fans of the Cerbone Family here and their absolutely unparalleled Jackson Avenue restaurant MANDUCATI’S, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, bar none. Consequently, we can’t think of anyone whose continuing success we’d be rooting for more than daughter Gianna, who’s set out on her own to introduce her heritage and culinary expertise to an entirely new generation. MANDUCATI’S RUSTICA first wowed the neighborhood with its assortment of savory panini, brick oven pizzas, and unforgettable desserts (especially their home-made gelato!). But now that the nicely appointed brick dining room is open, too, here’s where you’ve got to go for the very best of traditional Italian cooking, all adorned with a red sauce that is simply unforgettable. Isn’t it great when a favorite destination can feel old and new at the same time? Sort of what our holiday traditions are all about, no?

Forest Hills

THE LITTLE RED STORE

71-63 Austin Street

(718) 261-2834

What a charming little corner store – and oozing with class – right smack in the middle of oh-so-trendy Austin Street! This is not only a great place for you to find some exquisite accoutrements for the home, but the top-notch selection of children’s playthings has so bowled us over, we keep having to go back and back again!

Middle Village

FRANKIE’S PLAYCE

75-48 Metropolitan Avenue

(347) 242-3144

Okay, so there’s a TOYS ‘R US nearby, but if you’re looking for something special for your little one (like that Gobblet game we love, or those adorable Gund Kids plush dolls!), make sure you stop in and pay a visit to the new home of FRANKIE’S PLAYCE, which was formerly situated within The Shops At Atlas Park. You can even get your holiday haircut here – and once you do, you will never go anywhere else. (By the way, Angelica Harris is offering a free holiday reading program here on Wednesday DECEMBER 30th and Saturday JANUARY the 2nd, complete with goody bags for your kids. To learn more, please call FRANKIE’S PLAYCE or Angelica Harris herself at (718) 381-9552.)

Forest Hills

ROYAL COLLECTIBLES

96-01 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 793-0542

Have to imagine that items pertaining to the recent Yankees World Series triumph are on the top of a great many kids’ Christmas lists this year (and even some big kids’ lists!) Well, look no further than ROYAL COLLECTIBLES, which has one of the best assortments of such memorabilia we’ve ever encountered. Just meandering through the aisles at ROYAL is a fun experience, and we tend to do it quite often, actually. (And they’ve even got things to help any forlorn Met fans in your family make it through the long winter ahead.)

Glendale

ROSETTA WINES

The Shops At Atlas Park

8000 Cooper Avenue

(718) 326-7700

It’s almost a year since Shermon Peters took over ROSETTA WINES, and we couldn’t be more pleased. What you get here is an intriguingly eclectic and unique selection from which to choose – a cut above most other such establishments in the area. Take, for instance, their St. Germain Elder Flower, made with elderflower blossoms from the foothills of the Alps, or their Chilean Montes Pinot Noir, with its clear predominance of strawberries. Two standouts that would make a perfect gift for the hosts of that holiday party you’re heading out to.

Maspeth

SCALA PASTRY SHOP

69-51 Grand Avenue

(718) 478-2232

Nothing quite like an Italian bakery come holiday-time, and you’ll definitely find yourself getting into the spirit the moment you set foot in here. Apart from a wonderful assortment of gingerbread options to choose from, SCALA PASTRY SHOP do an unforgettable job with their various Christmas cookies. And even though they’re predominantly Jewish in origin, we can’t help falling for the delightful Rugulah they’ve got right up front there at the counter, which comes in both chocolate and raspberry!

Williamsburg

METROPOLITAN FISH MARKET

635 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 387-6835

There’s an Italian Christmas Eve tradition you probably know about by now, wherein families gather for an all-night abbondanza of seven different kinds of seafood – things like baccala (cod), anchovies, calamari, shrimp, mussels, clams, lobster, etc. and various combinations therein. It’s why this is probably the absolute busiest time of the year for a Brooklyn institution like the METROPOLITAN FISH MARKET. The Zollo Family have been serving the neighborhood for generations now – and even newcomers to the community have started spreading the word!

Middle Village

GR STATIONERY STORE

64-67 Dry Harbor Road

(718) 894-0816

Really impressive how the folks at GR STATIONERY STORE have configured their store to almost triple their inventory here. But especially right now, it’s just wall-to-wall holiday offerings – and quite a selection at that. Not sure you’ll find a broader variety of greeting cards anywhere else – and their any-size gift bag promotion (99c) is really quite a steal, especially if you take a look at exactly how big some of those darn things are! By the way, if you’re really looking for something classy, check out the assortment of Department 56 Christmas Village items they’ve got here. Pretty cool…

Glendale

STOP & SHOP

8989 Union Turnpike

(718) 846-2310

Regular readers of these pages know what fans we are of this simply super STOP & SHOP on Union Turnpike right on the Forest Hills/Glendale border. In fact, you can get just about anything you want here – it’s practically an entire city. Their bakery section is as good as any neighborhood bakery – except it’s right there! And their deli section is as good (actually better!) than most neighborhood delis – except it’s right there! Looking for some flowers? Gift wrap? Some last-minute toys for the kids? It’s ALL-RIGHT-HERE!

Maspeth

O’NEILL’S

64-21 53rd Drive

(718) 672-9696

We always dig whatever new O’NEILL’S chef Jose Dominguez has got cooking, but wait’ll you hear what he’s serving up for the holidays! Colossal Crab Meat Cocktail; O’NEILL’S Famous Garlic Bread, with Gorgonzola; Chicken Breast with Lemon-Coconut Crème; Aged Prime Rib, Roasted with Lemon-Pepper Potato Wedges; Virginia Ham with Bourbon Glaze and Apricot Marmalade; and much much more. O’NEILL’S is clearly a wonderful place to be holding your holiday party, no question – heck, WE ARE!

Rego Park

WOODHAVEN HOUSE

63-98 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 894-5400

It’s always festive at WOODHAVEN HOUSE, given the exceptional décor that greets you the moment you arrive, and always lets you know you’ve stopped in at some place special. But the holidays are when John Cregan and company truly go all out here. Their private party room is one of the more popular around town, so if you’re interested, you’d best get a move on. Not only that, but renowned WOODHAVEN HOUSE fave DJ Sean has got not one but two events coming up you’re going to want to check out – his rockin’ Christmas Eve extravaganza on December 24th and his ringin’-in-the-new-year bash on December 31st, both of which start at 10:30 pm, with no cover charge!

Long Island City

RAVEL HOTEL

808 Queens Plaza South

(718) 289-6101

Easily one of the most luxurious (and exotic) event destinations in Queens, the RAVEL HOTEL is the perfect place to fete that special someone in your life this holiday. Maybe it’s checking out their Wine Down Wednesdays evening of jazz that gets you here first, but rest assured, the place’s meticulous opulence and breathtaking views of the NYC skyline will definitely get you back again right quick. (Make sure you check out www.RavelHotel.com before you go!)

Williamsburg

VERTUCCIO’S PIZZA ON THE PARK

232 North 12th Street

(718) 486-3900

Want to tell you about one of our new favorite places, folks. VERTUCCIO’S, the latest to arrive on the Brooklyn brick-oven pizza scene, has one of the most exquisitely inviting ambiences you’re going to find in such an establishment. And as much as we love the culinary creations of long-time pizzaioli Gaetano Giuffre (especially his Bresaola pizza and his Tagliolini pasta!), we couldn’t help but be equally impressed by the has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed décor, including four massive oil murals depicting nineteenth century Italian landscapes and seascapes, all painted by Suzanne Bellehumeur. What can we say – get here for the holidays, folks!

Have yourselves a very Happy Holiday, folks, from all us here at the QUEENS LEDGER-BROOKLYN STAR.

BEST OF THE BEST “2010”

In honor of the momentous occasion that looms before us – the start of a new decade! – here at “BEST OF THE BEST” we figured the best way to usher in 2010 would be with 20 “10’s”, that is, a list of 20 “Top 10’s,” including a great many of our all-time faves. (For telephone numbers and addresses for those listed here, please make sure to check out our business directory online at www.QueensLedger.com. Just click on the tab at the top that says “businesses” and search, search, search away!)

BEST Breakfast

WOODSIDE CAFÉ in Woodside; ESPARKS COFFEE in Glendale; MATSON’S DELI in Middle Village; GARDEN GRILL in Williamsburg; GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY in Maspeth; IGLOO ICE CREAM CAFÉ in Astoria; NEW YORK DINER in Long Island City; FAME DINER in Maspeth; RIDGEWOOD EATS in Ridgewood; ADAM’S BAGEL & DELI in Rego Park.

BEST Sandwiches

Prosciutto & Fresh Mozzarella Panini at TIRAMISU CAFÉ in Middle Village; Tuna Sandwich at PHOEBE’S CAFÉ in Williamsburg; Ultimate Warrior (Roast Beef, Melted Cheddar) at MIKE & MARIA’S in Ridgewood; Tortas Milanesas at YOLA’S CAFÉ in Williamsburg; Roast Top Sirloin of Beef (Hot) at BLINK’S DELI in Long Island City; Matson’s Best (Thinly Sliced Ham, Prosciutto, Smoked Mozzarella) at MATSON’S DELI in Middle Village; Congressman Weiner (Roast Beef, Bermuda Onion) at BEN’S BEST in Rego Park; Black Forest Bacon Club at MANOR OKTOBERFEST in Glendale (The Shops at Atlas Park); Fried Catfish Po-Boy at MARDI GRAS in Forest Hills; North Sea (Roast Beef, Cole Slaw, Horseradish) at WALTER’S DELICATESSEN in Maspeth.

BEST Burgers

DONOVAN’S in Woodside; DIRTY PIERRE’S in Forest Hills; DANNY BOY’S in Middle Village; PETER LUGER in Williamsburg; 67 BURGER in Fort Greene; RED STAR BAR in Greenpoint; FIVE GUYS BURGERS and FRIES in Glendale; CHEEBURGER, CHEEBURGER in Forest Hills; THE HABITAT in Greenpoint; McCANN’S PUB & GRILL in Astoria.

BEST Pizza

MOTORINO in Williamsburg; NICK’S PIZZA in Forest Hills; ANDREW’S PIZZERIA in Middle Village; SAN MARCO PIZZERIA in Williamsburg; CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN in Glendale (The Shops at Atlas Park); O’NEILL’S in Maspeth; VERTUCCIO’S PIZZA ON THE PARK in Williamsburg; CARMINE’S PIZZERIA in Williamsburg; PIZZA CLASSICA in Glendale; BAROSA in Rego Park.

BEST Wings

RED STAR BAR in Greenpoint; KELLYS in Middle Village; SUNSWICK 35/35 in Astoria; O’NEILL’S in Maspeth; McCANN’S PUB & GRILL in Astoria; DANNY BOY’S in Middle Village; TEDDY’S BAR & GRILL in Williamsburg; HOOTERS in Fresh Meadows; DILLINGER’S in Astoria; YER MAN’S IRISH PUB in Glendale.

BEST Diners

RIDGEWOOD EATS in Ridgewood; GARDEN GRILL in Williamsburg; FOREST HILLS DINER in Forest Hills; SHALIMAR DINER in Rego Park; FAME DINER in Maspeth; GEORGIA DINER in Elmhurst; NEW YORK DINER in Long Island City; MARK TWAIN DINER in Jackson Heights; JACKSON HOLE DINER in Jackson Heights/Bayside; POP DINER in Elmhurst.

BEST Gift Ideas

BROOKLYNSKI in Williamsburg; THE LITTLE RED STORE in Forest Hills; THE FAIR in Glendale (The Shops at Atlas Park); ROYAL COLLECTIBLES in Forest Hills; TIVOLI JEWELERS in Williamsburg; ART WORLD in Forest Hills; THE BROOKLYN KITCHEN in Williamsburg; GREENPOINT TOY CENTER in Greenpoint; LAFYES JEWELRY in Maspeth; CELTIC TIGER IMPORTS in Maspeth.

BEST Service

HOW CONVENIENT in Maspeth; CARMINE’S PIZZERIA in Williamsburg; K&R; AUTO REPAIR in Rego Park; MASPETH DRY CLEANERS in Middle Village; CITIBANK in Forest Hills; GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY in Maspeth; DESTEFANO’S in Williamsburg; KEW GARDENS CINEMAS in Kew Gardens; PHOTOPLAY in Greenpoint; SUDDEN IMPULSE HAIRSTYLING in Middle Village.

BEST Bakeries

FORTUNATO BROS. PASTICCERIA in Williamsburg; GLENDALE BAKE SHOP BAKERY in Maspeth; CATANIA BAKERY in Ridgewood; LA GULI PASTRY SHOP in Astoria; BLUE STOVE CAFÉ in Williamsburg; MARTHA’S COUNTRY BAKERY in Forest Hills; SETTEPANI BAKERY in Williamsburg; LA DOLCE ITALIA in Forest Hills; RUDY’S PASTRY SHOP in Ridgewood; PARISCIEN BAKERY in Middle Village.

BEST Gourmet Produce

HOMESTEAD GOURMET SHOP in Kew Gardens; CHEESE OF THE WORLD in Forest Hills; LORIMER MARKET in Williamsburg; IAVARONE BROS. in Middle Village; BEDFORD CHEESE SHOP in Williamsburg; DURSO’S in Flushing; KARL EHMER MEATS in Ridgewood; SAPORI D’ISCHIA in Woodside; S.S. NATURAL in Forest Hills; MEDITERRANEAN FOODS in Astoria.

BEST Steaks

PETER LUGER in Williamsburg; UNCLE JACK’S in Bayside; DESTEFANO’S in Williamsburg; CHRISTOS in Astoria; LA FUSTA in Elmhurst; O’NEILL’S in Maspeth; AUSTIN’S STEAK & ALE HOUSE in Kew Gardens; DIRTY PIERRE’S in Forest Hills; BOCA JUNIOR’S in Elmhurst; PAMPAS ARGENTINAS in Forest Hills.

BEST Taste Treats

Cevapi at CEVABDZINICA SARAJEVO in Astoria; Falafel at PAHAL ZAN in Forest Hills; Masala Dosa at THE DOSA HUTT in Flushing; Steamed Pork Buns at AA PLAZA in Flushing; Mexican Corn on the Cob at EL LOCO BURRITO in Williamsburg; Kielbasa at RADEGAST HALL & BIERGARTEN in Williamsburg; Shrimp Toast at EAST MEETS WEST in Rego Park; Sweet Potato Casserole at BOSTON MARKET in Forest Hills; Beer Milk Shake at 67 BURGER in Fort Greene; The “Pickle Back” at BUSHWICK COUNTRY CLUB in Williamsburg.

BEST Dining Experiences

DESTEFANO’S in Williamsburg; UVARARA in Middle Village; BOB’S PLACE in Floral Park; Q-THAI BISTRO in Forest Hills; BAMONTE’S in Williamsburg; LONDON LENNIE’S in Rego Park; MANDUCATI’S in Long Island City; SAPORI D’ISCHIA in Woodside; KUM GANG SAN in Flushing; DANNY BROWN in Forest Hills.

BEST Places for a Party

JOE ABBRACCIAMENTO in Rego Park; CONNOLLY’S CORNER in Maspeth; GOTTSCHEER HALL in Ridgewood; LA LOCANDA in Williamsburg; STUDIO SQUARE in Astoria; BOB’S PLACE in Floral Park; WOODHAVEN HOUSE in Rego Park; GIANDO ON THE WATER in South Williamsburg; RAVEL HOTEL in Long Island City; DOUGLASTON MANOR in Douglaston.

BEST Hotels

RAVEL HOTEL in Long Island City; NU HOTEL in Downtown Brooklyn; HOTEL LE JOLIE in Williamsburg; HOLIDAY INN LIC-MANHATTAN VIEW in Long Island City; COMFORT INN & SUITES AIRPORT in Maspeth; FAIRFIELD INN NEW YORK LONG ISLAND CITY/MANHATTAN VIEW in Long Island City; NEW YORK LaGUARDIA AIRPORT MARRIOTT in East Elmhurst; SHERATON LaGUARDIA EAST in Flushing; HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS QUEENS/MIDTOWN TUNNEL in Long Island City; NEW YORK MARRIOTT AT THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE in Downtown Brooklyn.

BEST Cultural Destinations

BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC in Fort Greene; MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE in Astoria; QUEENS MUSEUM OF ART in Flushing Meadows Corona Park; BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY in Brooklyn Heights; FLUSHING TOWN HALL in Flushing; P.S.1 MoMA in Long Island City; THE NOGUCHI MUSEUM in Long Island City; QUEENS THEATRE IN THE PARK in Flushing Meadows Corona Park; LOUIS ARMSTRONG HOUSE MUSEUM in Corona; MoCADA in Fort Greene.

BEST Places for Pets

MUDDY PAWS in Williamsburg; CRAZY FOR ANIMALS in Glendale; THANK DOG in South Williamsburg; FOREST HILLS CAT HOSPITAL in Middle Village; METRO PUPPY in Forest Hills; K-9 CATERERS in Glendale; RAINBOW PET CLUB/SPA in Woodside; CAMP BOW WOW DOGGY DAY CARE in Long Island City; PETLAND DISCOUNTS in Glendale; ELMHURST ANIMAL EMERGENCY HOSPITAL PC in Elmhurst.

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BEST Places for Kids

A PLACE TO DANCE in Maspeth; KIDS FUN HOUSE in Ridgewood; FRANKIE’S PLAYCE in Middle Village; GREENPOINT YMCA in Greenpoint; THE CAGE in Middle Village; PRESS START CAFÉ in Maspeth; LIC YMCA in Long Island City; ELMJACK LITTLE LEAGUE in Elmhurst/Jackson Heights; QUEENS FALCONS in Maspeth; NY HALL OF SCIENCE in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

BEST Ice Cream

FORTUNATO BROS. PASTICCERIA in Williamsburg; EDDIE’S SWEET SHOP in Forest Hills; TIRAMISU CAFÉ in Middle Village; MAX & MINA’S in Flushing; TIMMY O’S in Corona; LA GULI PASTRY SHOP in Astoria; UNCLE LOUIE G in Forest Hills; LEMON ICE KING OF CORONA in Corona; SWEET SPOT in Ridgewood; ISABELLA’S in Maspeth.

BEST Health Options

W FITNESS CLUB in Rego Park; SEDONA FITNESS FOR WOMEN in Forest Hills; NEW YORK SPORTS CLUB in Glendale (The Shops at Atlas Park); ASTORIA SPORTS COMPLEX in Astoria; CURVES in Middle Village; LUCILLE ROBERTS in Forest Hills; FORCE FITNESS CLUB in Ridgewood; PLANET FITNESS in Jamaica; SUNRISE TO SUNSET TANNING & SPA in Middle Village; BIKRAM YOGA in Rego Park.

And with that, dear readers, please allow me to take this opportunity to ride off into the sunset. Or actually sun-RISE I should say, as I look to the future and 2010 with eyes wide open – and with a whole new set of challenges and opportunities about to present themselves just over the horizon. Thank you to everyone at the QUEENS LEDGER-BROOKLYN STAR for such a great opportunity here, and thanks so very much to all of you out there as well for such a loyal following – and for your comments, your quibbles, your suggestions. “It’s all good,” as they say, and sure has been a heck of a lot of fun. May the blessings of this holiday season fill you and your family’s hearts and carry over well into the New Year, and as my K-F Latin teacher was often so fond of telling us, “Ave atque Vale.”

Roll with Queens Council on the Arts! Come to the Casino Caliente!

Queens Council on the Arts (QCA) is turning 50 in 2016, but we are kicking off the festivities a year early! Save yourself a plane ticket and join QCA for a hot night in Havana,Cuba right here in Long Island City,Queens!

Join us as we celebrate with live music, a casino night, salsa performances, and global cuisine courtesy of Mundo Restaurant. Come celebrate the next 50 years of nurturing diverse emerging artists and arts organizations in Queens!

DATE & TIME

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Cocktails and Hors d’Ouvres | Casino Night | Live Music & Dancing

LOCATION

The Paper Factory Hotel, 37-06 36th Street,Long Island City,NY 11101

COME CELEBRATE

The next 50 years of nurturing diverse emerging artists and arts organizations in Queens.

To Purchase Tickets Click Below:

Form: http://buff.ly/1FoKQ9r

Event-Brite: http://buff.ly/1DNCeOe

Or

Contact Jackie Dedios at 347-505-3013 or jdedios@queenscouncilarts.org

ARTS Community: Free Cultural Arts & Networking at CUP Center

The Enterprise Collective is hosting a free community event to celebrate Women’s History Month at CUP Center located at 1071 Bedford Avenue in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 1 P.M. – 7 P.M., consisting of a table display of framed photo art in print, ranging in size up to 11 in x 14 in, by our featured art vendor Lisa Washington who received some art teachings recently from Master Artist Otto Neals.

The event line up begins at 1:00 P.M., with some networking and a free first-look tour of paintings of Michael Jackson on exhibit at the Sanctuary Gallery located on the Lexington Ave. entrance of the building, just around the corner.

Next is a film screening of Julie Dash’s provocative independent feature film, “Daughters of the Dust,” begins promptly at 2:00 P.M., following a conversation more mingling and entertainment by the greatly anticipated return of The Midnight Fire Blues Band, in full concert promptly at 4:00 P.M., No worries, you’ll have plenty of time to support and buy photo art from our local art vendor, eat soul food and network.

The Enterprise Collective is expecting an awesome turn-out due to the popularity of The Midnight Fire Blues Band. The Enterprise Collective extends the opportunity for you to participate in spreading the word. Share with family and friends. Bring a couple of guests along or send people to represent you in your absence, just in case you want to attend and can’t make it.

Also, towards the end of the program, the one who had arrived with the most guests and greatest support get to take home free stuff. You must be present. Finally, a limited supply of free treats and raffle will be at the art vendor’s display station.

Keep in mind, while admission and activities are free and open to the public, the photo art is available for sale for nominal prices when purchased as souvenirs from this event. Local visual artists rely on and appreciate your support for an amazing Women’s History Month. For more information, email enterprisecollective@gmail.com or call 718 789 7899

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