Joe DiStefano

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Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He joins us here on QueensNYC each Thursday.

Meat maven Josh Ozersky and pitmaster Robbie Richter parade a barbecued ewe.

I’ve just about recovered from what I’ve taken to calling ‘Mini-Meatopia.’ For that’s exactly what Monday’s pop-up at Alchemy, Texas BBQ was. Meat maven Josh Ozersky and pitmaster Robbie Richter teamed up on a menu that included everything from short rib to a grass-fed Vermont ewe, all cooked in Alchemy’s gigantic smoker. It was the first of hopefully many pop-ups. It was a very special night for barbecue and Jackson Heights with a globe-trotting menu that spanned from Jamaica to Uzbekistan.

First up: bulgogi tacos,with gojuchang aioli…

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Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He joins us here on QueensNYC each Thursday.

Mix in the sauce and dig into the best Sichuan cold noodles ever.

Cheng Du Tian Fu, or Chengdu Heavenly Plenty Snacks, is one of the first stalls I ever visited in the regional Chinese wonderland that is the Golden Shopping Mall. Back in 2007 there was hardly any English signage in the entire place and I was relying upon a rosetta stone of sorts from a Chowhound post. These days the menu is in English and there are dozens of items—beef jerky, fu qi fei pian, dan dan mian and more—shown in the mouthwatering photos that adorn the wall at the bottom of the stairs.

This Sichuan specialist has become a favorite of the Mission Chinese crew. Despite the vast selection I’ve gotten the same thing every time for the last 10 or more visits: cold noodles Chengdu style ($3.50). A palate-awakening sauce consisting of crushed chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, what looks to be MSG, black vinegar, and a prodigious amount of fine garlic paste tops the tangle of thin al dente noodles. Mixing the sauce to coat the noodles take a bit of effort. It’s worth it for the results, though. The bowl of noodles ping pongs between refreshing,fiery, palate-tingling, and pungent.

Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing

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Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He joins us here on QueensNYC each Thursday.


Sweet and cold, El Bohio’s shaved ice is a harbinger of even warmer days

Forget that groundhog. The real indicator of the arrival of warm weather is the ice cream man. Or in Corona, the shaved ice man, specifically the dude who sets up in the window in front of El Bohio Grocery. The other day after eating enough Thai food for an army I took a long walk up Roosevelt Avenue and was delighted to see that El Bohio’s shaved ice—or frio frio as Dominicans like to call it­—was in full effect.

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Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He joins us here on QueensNYC each Thursday (except this week on Friday..).

Surely Zhū Dà Jiě’s Lao Cheng Du deserves a slot on Eater’s Queens Heatmap.

Over the weekend Eater released its Queens Heatmap, a roster of a dozen of-the-moment restaurants, including the recently opened Alchemy, Texas, BBQ as well as C+M favorites M. Wells Dinette, Biang!, and  Chao Thai Too. The list highlights “recent arrivals . . . that the critics, bloggers, and restaurant obsessives are buzzing about right now.” For what it’s worth I don’t consider myself a critic but I’ll proudly fly the blogger and restaurant obsessive flags. I am pleased to say that there’s only one spot on the list that I haven’t been to, Casa Enrique.

In the past Eater has taken some, well, heat for its Queens Heatmap. As for this time around it looks pretty good. That said, I question the inclusion of Corner Bistro as buzzworthy. And I’d like to have seen Zhū Dà Jiě’s  Láo Chéng Dū, on a list of a hot new restaurants. So here’s what I’m curious to know. What do you think of the latest incarnation of Eater’s Queen’s Heatmap? What’s missing? What’s doesn’t deserve to have made the cut? Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.

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Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He joins us here on QueensNYC each Thursday.

Young and old alike came out for the opening of Alchemy, Texas, BBQ.

Before there was Virgil’s Real Barbecue, before Blue Smoke, before Hill Country, before the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, and before New York City’s current love affair with Texas ’cue there was Robert Pearson. The British hairdresser caught the barbecue bug while working in Texas. He returned to New York City to open Pearson’s Texas Barbcue first in Long Island City, and then in the back of Legends Bar in Jackson Heights. I never got to taste Brit’s ’cue. And I’ve never been terribly impressed by successor outfit The Ranger Texas, Barbecue. Last night the smoky arts made a triumphant return to Legends with the opening of Alchemy, Texas, BBQ. The pitmaster behind this Texas barbecue homecoming is Josh Bowen of John Brown Smokehouse. Bowen knows a thing or two about ‘cue in general, and Texas ‘cue too having logged some time at Hill Country.