By Rich Bockmann
Walk past the Italian Renaissance-style facade of the old Queens Family Courthouse around Happy Hour, and you’re likely to view a scene downtown Jamaica has been waiting on for some time.
Young professionals dressed in business casual pack the steel-and-glass box jutting out of the Dermot Co.’s Parsons Boulevard development, home to the neighborhood’s newest — or one might say new — sit-down restaurant, CityRib.
“One of the greatest compliments I get,” said General Manager Regan Uriarte, “is people come up to me and say, ‘You know what? When you come in here, you think you’re in the city.’ That’s really the vibe we want.”
In 2010, Dermot cut the ribbon on Moda, its 346-unit, mixed-space development that married the stone facade of the historic courthouse to 12 stories of LEED-certified new construction.
At either corner of the building on Parsons sit two retail spaces, and earlier this month the nouveau-barbecue joint opened its doors at 89th Avenue, giving diners an outlet to feed their food fixes.
Downtown Jamaica, along with Flushing and Long Island City, is one of the three main business corridors in Queens, fed by a transportation hub, students at York College, visitors to a bevy of government buildings and travelers shuffling to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
But aside from an Applebee’s on Jamaica Avenue that opened in late 2010 and Sangria’s on Sutphin Boulevard, the neighborhood is lacking in sit-down dining amenities, though it is willing to spend money at one.
In January, the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District — which both Sangria’s and CityRib sit on the outskirts of — completed a customer survey that revealed shoppers were spending over $196 million in the restaurant category outside the main corridor, and wanted more sit-down dining options.
With an interior colored by bare-brick walls, corrugated-steel panelling and a stone column at the center of the bar reading “Established MMXIII,” the eatery has the chic-casual feel of a high-end barbecue restaurant.
Menu items include appetizers such as deviled eggs and chili-flavored calamari, a fried catfish sandwich and both St. Louis and babyback-style ribs slow cooked for up to 12 hours in a 500-pound smoker.
CityRib offers two sauces: the Queens, a mustard-based recipe with whiskey, and the Kings, which starts with a tomato base and molasses accented by bourbon.
The bar stocks 14 domestic beers on tap, including the Dogfish 60-minute IPA and Brooklyn’s India Pale Ale. Cocktails such as the Rufus King, a take on an Old Fashioned, and the Parsons Collins put a local twist on traditional libations.
Diners saddling up to the bar will also find a moonshine distilled by upstate New York’s Dutch’s Spirits.
“It goes really well with barbecue. It’s one of the few moonshines available for sale in the U.S.,” Uriarte said. “It’s very refreshing.”
CityRib, at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., opens at 4 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. weekends, when it serves brunch until 3 p.m. featuring chicken and waffles and coconut-crusted French toast.
The restaurant does not take reservations, though it does make accommodations for call-ahead seating. The number is 718-878-3599.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.