by Nick D'Arienzo
Jul 01, 2009 | 39444 views | 0 0 comments | 3042 3042 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Yes, folks, it’s that time of year where we all get to be “Yankee Doodle Dandies” and celebrate yet another birthday of this great nation of ours (our 233rd for those keeping score at home). Aside from the parades, the usual patriotic rhetoric, and just about the greatest gift we’ve ever received from the Chinese – fireworks! – what the 4th of July holiday tends to be about in these parts is friends and family, fun and frolic, and that other great ole American tradition… barbecuing! Anyway, here’s a couple of places we thought might help make your barbecue or picnic a little extra special this year…



620 Lorimer Street

(718) 389-2691

We’ve been huge fans of the wonders worked by the Virtuoso Family here for years now, but especially when it comes to barbecuing. Fantastic home-made sausage is a given, but make sure you ask about their pinwheels – those are really a treat, as well. Plus, you’ve got a whole assortment of fantastic pasta salads to choose from here, a nice variety of olives, cheeses, etc. And did we mention that they make just about the best meatballs in New York City? Oh yeah, definitely – and we don’t need any stinking contest to prove that either, just try ‘em yourself, you’ll see!

Middle Village


75-12 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 326-0510

There are actually a couple of IAVARONE establishments that seem to think their motto is, “When Being Obnoxious Is Necessary,” but we definitely feel this one on Metro stands out for combining the down-to-earth hospitality you would expect from your neighborhood butcher with the tremendous inventory of quality that you get when you patronize the IB Foods brand. Their sausage is exceptional here, as are their Angus Beef Steaks, but if you ask us, it’s hard to pass up throwing a little Beef Braciole in there, as well – it’s exactly the way Grandma used to make it!

Middle Village


64-66 Dry Harbor Road

(718) 894-6307

Also in Middle Village, you might want to check out MATSON’S on Dry Harbor Road, especially if you’re thinking of getting a couple of heroes for your 4th of July gathering, they’ve got a staggeringly huge selection here. We’re also pretty fond of their Ranch Pasta Salad – just can’t get enough of it – as well as their Rice Balls. You might want to come and eyeball everything in the glass showcase and then pick it up the day of. If you’ve never been, we’re pretty sure you’re going to be back again and again!



70-11 Grand Avenue

(718) 429-6749

If you’re thinking maybe German-American style deli fare is more to your liking, we highly recommend WALTER’S DELICATESSEN. Pumpernickel bread to die for, a whole host of sandwich options, a fine selection of cold cuts, and without question the best potato salad you’re going to find anywhere! (Especially the Penn Dutch!) Wait, wait, wait – what about the Bratwurst? Yes, yes, yes – you have got to try the Bratwurst!



63-35 Fresh Pond Road

(718) 456-8100

Speaking of German delicacies, KARL EHMER MEATS is still the best butcher on the block – but especially when that block happens to be Fresh Pond Road! Now in its 78th year of operation, this is one of the premier destinations around town for sausage and wurst, and if you’re looking for something a little exotic for your barbecue this year, can we recommend to you either the Knockwurst or the Bockwurst. By the way, you know those, whattaya call ‘em, hot dogs that are so popular this time of year – you know they’re really called frankfurters, right? Anyway, you are hereby advised to avail yourselves of the Seitenwurst here (aka Long Weiners). These Vienna-style hot dogs have a great “snap” taste to them, and when grilled properly, will have a distinctive crunch. Definitely worth trying!



62-04 68th Avenue

(718) 386-1988

Just a stone’s throw away off Fresh Pond Road (if you throw it really, really hard, actually) is one of our longtime favorites, MIKE & MARIA’S DELICATESSEN. The extensive renovation they recently undertook has afforded brother and sister Mike and Maria the opportunity to do a lot more with hot plates, catering, etc. So this is probably where you want to head not just for some fantastic sandwiches and wraps, but some nice sausage ’n’ peppers, a six-foot hero or two (or three), eggplant parmigiana, and more. You know what – you name it, they can make it! Go check ‘em out!

Forest Hills


102-23 Metropolitan Avenue

(718) 793-5430

A lot of people (and seriously, folks, a lot of people…) swear by this Forest Hills institution, which they collectively refer to simply as Mitch’s. What’s most appealing about this butcher shop is the avuncular charm of its proprietor (Mitch) and the fact that he will take the time to grind the meat right in front of you, involving you in the process and thereby reminding you of a time when the world was a better place. It’s one of the extra steps that really go a long way towards building (and sustaining) customer loyalty. And why would you want to mess with that, right?

Forest Hills


106-24 71st Avenue

(718) 261-0500

Also in Forest Hills, BOSTON MARKET has made themselves downright reasonable of late (thanks to our wonderful economy), and we always feel like whenever we go, it reminds us that every single day can resemble that other quintessentially American holiday – Thanksgiving! You’re not going to find better turkey in too many other places, and their meatloaf is nothing to be ashamed of either. But as far as we’re concerned, what makes BOSTON MARKET special are its delectable sides – the creamed spinach, the macaroni ‘n’ cheese, and that oh-so-memorable Sweet Potato Casserole. So if picnicking is where it’s at for y’all this 4th of July, make sure you check out BOSTON MARKET. You’re going to be very pleasantly surprised!

Long Island City/Astoria


36-12 30th Avenue

(718) 626-6656

These people really know what they’re doing here. You’ve got a lot of top-notch customer service at work for one thing. It’s also really clean, too. But because they do a healthy business, their inventory is also always fresh, and with a nice assortment of Italian, Greek, and Latin specialties, you’ve pretty much got your pick of the litter here. (And by the way, given that it’s Astoria, count on a number of free range or organic options, as well.)



80-04 Grand Avenue

(718) 458-5254

Lastly, what would the 4th of July be without pounding down a couple of brewskis, eh? And while of course this is a decidedly American affair, we couldn’t help but be flabbergasted recently by the fantastic imported beer selection at COMMUNITY BEVERAGE, right here in our own backyard. I mean, we’re talking Weihenstephan, Radeberger, Jever, Monty Python’s Holy Grail (yes, you heard that right)… Look folks, it ain’t all about PBR, or Bud or Coors Light, okay? (Besides, we were all immigrants back in the day, right?)

Happy 4th of July, everyone – Enjoy it!

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