Glendale chef has been to ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and back

By Sarina Trangle

Few people appreciate a fresh carcass quite like Vinny Accardi.

The Maspeth chef described his modern American restaurant in Glendale, in part, by emphasizing where he purchases his proteins: The ducks hail from Long Island, the lambs from a Pennsylvania farm.

“All my meat literally comes from fresh carcasses. None of my meat comes from Cryovac,” Accardi said, using a word that refers to the packaging of food in vacuum-sealed plastic. “I buy it before it even gets in the bag.”

He should know. Before opening Room 55, at 75-01 88th St. in Glendale, March 29, Accardi worked as a butcher at Prime Food Distributors in Long Island, where he mastered butchering meats a cut above what was taught to him at the Culinary Institute of America.

After graduating and working as a line chef, Accardi, 33, competed on the television show “Hell’s Kitchen,” ultimately coming in seventh out of 16 contestants.

“I didn’t go on for the thrill and amusement of being on TV. I went for the money, which I wanted to open a restaurant,” he said.

But Accardi was able to purchase a Glendale building four years later and open Room 55, a name which refers to his May 5, 2000, graduation from culinary school.

Accardi said he always sought to open his first eatery in his neighborhood to share it with those who had supported him. Additionally, he said the nearby area lacked lively restaurants.

“I want to serve fine dining but in a totally chilled, laid-back atmosphere,” Accardi said, while sitting at one of a handful of cherry wood tables in a simply decorated room with yellow walls and cream floor tiles. “I want my place to be fun.”

The menu is slated to change bimonthly, with the core proteins remaining but garnishes and complementary ingredients varying with the seasons.

Currently, the menu features a small plates section with escarole salad for $5.50 and roasted bone marrow for $8; appetizers boasting razor clam and mussel panzanella for $10 and a lamb pasta with prunes and pearl onion for $12; and entrees offering an Amish pork duo with kale, bacon and grits for $21 and seared duck breast with butternut squash risotto for $23.

Accardi said one of his favorite items was a $20 prime dry-aged filet mignon on the small plates menu.

“It’s probably one of the most expensive cuts on the planet. I felt like most people wouldn’t be able to afford that as an entree — that’s a $65, $70 hanger steak,” he said. “So I made it a small plate. That gives people the opportunity to try something they wouldn’t normally.”

Room 55 is working on acquiring a liquor license to offer wine and beer. Accardi said he envisions offering wine flights, pairing small samples of red or white wines with compatible dishes. The beer menu would mostly consist of craft and artisanal options.

Room 55 currently is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

But Accardi said he plans to extend the restaurant’s Sunday hours and offer a traditional, Italian-style Sunday dinner in the coming weeks.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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