By Suzanne Parker
Long time Forest Hillsians might remember the original My Kitchen from the ‘80s, when it was a popular Austin Street eatery. After disappearing from the scene for over a decade, it re-emerged on Metropolitan Avenue in a spiffy new space with a restaurant and a party room. It started off with great promise, but gradually entered a state of inexorable decline.
Infusing new energy and enthusiasm, the new owners Dhanny and Giuseppe Palma hope to make good on My Kitchen’s original promise. Dhanny, who grew up in Trinidad, runs the front of the house, while Giuseppe, of Italian descent, rules the kitchen. They describe themselves as having “a solid foodie partnership and marriage.” The menu itself is sprinkled with quotes from their own kitchen like “My husband’s a Chef. Why do you think I married him”?
The menu here, admittedly still a work in progress, could possibly be described as New American Italian. That is to say it includes classic American crowd pleasers like Maryland crab cakes and a NY strip steak and Italian favorites like eggplant rolletini and spaghetti carbonara. There are also daily specials, perhaps trial balloons for future menus. There is a thoughtfully chosen, modestly priced wine list, and a full carafe of house wine is only $20. They don’t push any designer cocktails, but can stir up a decent martini, or any other standard bar beverage.
Miniature shepherd’s pie was a special appetizer that just might merit permanent inclusion based on cuteness alone. Minced lamb with a few veggies, redolent of sage, topped with mashed potatoes filled a doll-sized casserole, adequate for a starter. All we could think was “aaawwww.” Maryland crab cakes, nice and crabby, were heightened by a lime yogurt sauce. The eggplant rollatini was workman-like in the way of an Italian that knows his cuisine.
Grilled chicken with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes in a rosemary wine reduction demonstrated Mr. Palma’s creativity in the kitchen. The sauce was well balanced with a little hint of heat to add interest.
Thursday they lower the price of their 16-ounce aged NY strip steak from $21 to $15. Even $21 isn’t a bad price for such a hefty slab of quality meat. It is covered in the house’s dry rub, well seared, and served on a sizzling platter. Regrettably, it was ordered rare, and arrived medium. When the chef stopped by our table and asked how the steak was, we told him. He apologized, but didn’t offer to replace it.
We were able to live with our un-rare steak because our attention was drawn to the not-to-be-missed French fries. They come laced with Parmesan and truffle oil in a paper lined bucket. They are the perfect balance of crunch and flavor. They were truly memorable taters.
The Bottom Line
Steered by its new owners, My Kitchen is clearly on an upward trajectory. Along with tweaking their menu, they are trying to add excitement with special events. On April 19, they are having a ‘50s and ‘60s Dinner & Dance party pairing the music with the comfort food of the era. You should be able to eat or do the “Mashed Potato.” As the weather improves, the back garden will provide al fresco dining opportunities. If a private gathering is in your future, their party room could be your venue.
Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.” She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
106-17 Metropolitan Ave,
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Price Range: Apps: $8—12, Entrees: $16—21
Cuisine: Italian & American
Setting: Quirky & cheerful
Service: Friendly and solicitous.
Hours: Monday, Wednesday through Sunday: 5 p.m. to 10p.m.
Reservations: Recommended on weekends or for special events
Alcohol: Full bar
Children: Welcome—no menu.
Credit cards: Yes
Noise level: Acceptable
Handicap accessible: Yes