Soccer madness set to strike borough

By Juan soto

The fever and the madness are on in Queens — soccer fever and madness, that is.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil just got underway, and the borough melting pot is heating up, ready to explode with every goal, penalty kick and unfair call.

After all, not only is the international tournament the biggest sporting event in the world, but the borough is home to the most ethically diverse chunk of earth on the planet.

Queens residents are cheering for their native countries, and for those who have no link to any of the 32 teams fighting it out, they always find ways to become a part-time supporter of one of the national teams.

In every corner of the borough during the next 3 1/2 weeks, a TV will be turned on to the tournament. Brazil 2014 brings a total of 64 games and at least 5,760 minutes of pure competition.

Bars and restaurants are ready to witness the true passion of soccer.

Die-hard fans of Brazil, one of the favorites to take the title, will gather around flat TV screens in places like Astoria’s Favela Grill, at 33-18 28th Ave.

“The place will get very busy,” said Clayton Santos, a waiter at the restaurant.

Santos said the restaurant has two big screens and three smaller TV sets, but it may add at least one more big screen TV. To watch the games of La Canarinha, Brazil’s nickname, the fan has to make a reservation and spend a minimum of $25.

“I really think Brazil is going to win,” added Santos.

Brazil has won five World Cups.

Germany, a three-time winner, has its little piece of Deutschland in Queens as well. In the heart of Glendale, German fans will glue their eyes to a 100-inch-screen TV in the Zum Stammtisch restaurant, at 69-46 Myrtle Ave.

During the matches, the place will give out free appetizers, and in case the squad commanded by the well-dressed Joachim Low reaches the final, the business will close the restaurant and open it only as a bar operation for the big finale.

“Germany hasn’t looked this good in years,” said Werner Lehner, owner of the eatery, along with his brother Hans. “We tend to have a lot of people when Germany plays.”

And let’s not forget that a German, Jurgen Klinsmann, is the coach of the U.S. national team. Both squads are in the same group and will face off June 26.

On Steinway Street, there is a place with a trick. At Caffe Borbone, at 25-07 Steinway St., fans will be waving different flags depending on who is kicking the ball.

Algerians will pack the house.

“This place will be full when Algeria plays”, said Rosina Vasquez, a worker at the restaurant.

But Caffe Borbone is an Italian place, and Italy, which has won the title on four occasions, is another soccer-mad nation.

“We are also very busy when Italy plays,” said Vasquez.

Another Italian restaurant, Cucino a Modo Mio in Corona, at 51-01 108th St., will jump with every goal. The place is already booked for the Saturday game between Italy and England, but the establishment also becomes the headquarters for Latin American fans.

“They come from all over to watch their teams,” said Gregory Gigliotti, owner of the restaurant.

He expects fanatics from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil.

The spot’s outdoor beer garden is ideal to have a drink, cheer and let your passion flow. It has a 70-inch-screen TV, but if one prefers indoors, there are four more TVs in the dining area and the pizza parlor.

At La Gran Uruguaya in Jackson Heights, at 85-06 37th Ave., Central and South America fans also merged.

“This is the house of soccer,” said Clever, manager at the place. “I am Ecuadorian, so first it’s Ecuador, but then I like Uruguay, USA, Spain.”

Brazil 2014 will be special for Bosnians. This is the first World Cup appearance for the Balkan country.

“We are a small country, but we have big hearts,” said Ifeta Huskovic, owner of Cevabdzinica Sarajevo, a Bosnian restaurant in Astoria, at 37-18 34th St.

Come the first game Sunday, Cevabdzinica Sarajevo will be jamming. It will not be an easy game. Bosnia faces Argentina, another top favorite to win the title.

“It’s going to be tough, but we love soccer, and we are going to enjoy this World Cup a lot,” added Huskovic.

Spain, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Slovakia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon — all fans from the 32 countries have a place to call home. After all, this is Queens.

“For Greeks, this is a good place to be,” said Emmanuel Mantalis, waiter at the Athens Cafe, at 32-07 30th Ave. “For Greeks, for Americans and for everyone else.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4565.

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