>> Sunday, August 15, 2010

105-03 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 544-0416

"Pizza by the slice." It's the Mazara tag line, and it implies that they might be alone in selling anything less than a whole pie. They forget that this is NYC, not the 'burbs (much to the chagrin of some denizens who will, in a short time, fade into dusty oblivion) and that pizza is almost always offered by the slice (Dee's and Nick's notwithstanding). Naturally, I had to try a slice of said pizza and moseyed on in one hot afternoon to do just that.

The average Mazara customer is a construction worker, and I waited in line behind about a half dozen of them while the staff tripped over itself in confusion. Pizzas were being handed out that no one ordered, people were bumping into each other, and there was the occasional snarky comment. The soda machine didn't work, forcing everyone to shell out twice as much for a bottle of the same soda. How coincidental.

I ended up ordering a Regular Cheese Slice, a Chicken Tomato Garlic Slice, and a Chicken Roll. Never have I had a more soggy slice of pizza than that plain slice. It drooped like a soggy rag as though it never saw the inside of an oven. Plus, it bled grease like nobody's business. The sad thing is, it actually could have been decent if the cheese wasn't so cheap and the crust had been cooked. The chicken slice was actually not bad, but I wasn't wowed by it. Meanwhile, the chicken roll was just flat out mediocre. The sauce tasted different from the sauce used on the pizza (a mistake in my book), and there was about as much flavor as I'd expect from eating a cardboard box with cheese in it. Sorry about the lack of photos, but my camera battery died once I got inside. Still, pizza on a paper plate looks pretty much the same everywhere.

So in short, do I see myself craving Mazara again? No, probably not.




>> Tuesday, August 3, 2010

9835 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 793-3774

Once upon a time, the legends say, Forest Hills was a pretty German neighborhood. For a long time, holding fort for the Germans, surrounded by a seemingly endless onslaught of Italian and Japanese food has been Chalet Alpina on Metropolitan Avenue. It has company now in the form of Manor Oktoberfest nearby on Yellowstone. My experience at Chalet Alpina was solidly middle-of-the-road up until the very end when I took a turn for the awkward.

Chalet Alpina is relatively large inside, and pretty dark, like dining in a ski lodge. There's no warmth there in any romantic sense. I'd never take a date there. This is more the kind of place where I can go with a bunch of friends, eat some food, drink some beer, and BS for a while. The thing is, Manor Oktoberfest is the same kind of place, but I would take a date there. Chalet Alpina's crowd is a decidedly older set who have found their spot where they can become regulars.

Okay, the food. Before I go further, the food here was all decent. Nothing was bad. But nothing wowed me in any way, except in size. You'll get portions so heart-cloggingly large, you'll swear you were south of the Mason Dixon Line.

To be blunt, the appetizer list was very disappointing. Unless choices like fried zucchini, friend calamari and shrimp cocktail are German in origin, it seemed rather similar to what I could get at a diner. Still, there were a few options for someone seeking something that they don't serve at IHOP. Bro ordered the Potato Pancake. It came with apple sauce to dip it in and was about the size of his head. It was good. Not too dense, not too greasy. But still, it weighed as much as the plate it was on. My appetizer was the Herring in Sour Cream with onion. It's exactly what it sounds like. Herring. Onions. Sour cream liberally covering everything. Again, good. But Jesus, I was so full by the end of the appetizers alone that the thought that my entree was about to arrive made me queasy. "After all that food, I need a nap." Bro said.

When the entrees arrived, I nearly fainted. My dinner, the Pork Schnitzel, was massive. At least it was pounded paper thin though. It came with an entirely forgettable baked potato and not-very-good creamed spinach (in my opinion, since Bro says he liked it). The pork itself was enjoyable though, especially with lemon juice and sour cream. Bro's meal was the Munchner Sauerbraten, a pot roast in a dark sweet sauce. While he thought the meal was fine (at least the meat part), I didn't care for it. Though to be be fair, I don't like pot roast. I tend to find the texture heavy and dry. It requires being eaten with a glass of beer or drowned in sauce, which this was. It came with a bowl of pickled cabbage and potato dumplings, which as you can see in the picture are the two things that look like white tennis balls. They were tasteless and had the consistency of Play-Doh, though Bro says that they were better the next day when he re-heated his leftovers. As for the cabbage... well, I'm almost certain that this was invented on a dare.

There was no way in Himmel we would survive dessert without exploding.

So the food was decent without being exceptional and the atmosphere was fine, too. I'd probably be willing to return, except that someone (the owner I assume, but maybe the manager, not that it really matters) decided to come by as we were getting ready to leave. He literally leaned over the booth so we couldn't get up and, after the perfunctory "did you enjoy the meal?" banter, decided to tell us two or three stories about death, about cholera killing thousands of people in China, about mass graves, and about how his grandfather got the shit kicked out of him for some reason or other and how he had all of his bones broken. We smiled politely, but really, how does one respond to that? Eventually, he let us leave.

Two beers, two appetizers, two dinners, plus tax and tip. $81.25.



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