Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
Broad Channel is one of New York’s most unusual neighborhoods: a tiny marshfront community on an island in Jamaica Bay. It’s served by a handful of businesses along Cross Bay Blvd., like these three, which are thankfully just a few blocks from the Broad Channel A train station.
If you live in Broad Channel or visit often, chances are high you know Rob and Alex Pisani, the brothers who run roughly half of the places to eat in the neighborhood. Their first business, a deli they started in 1998, is still their home base and also serves as the community’s largest grocery store.
Completely renovated since Superstorm Sandy destroyed the space, All American Channel Market now offers staples such as steaks, beer, soup, peanut butter, cereal, eggs and sugar in its bright aisles. But many folks head straight to the deli counter in the back, which, like the store, is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
Favorites there include chicken cutlet Parmigiana ($13.99 as an entree, $7.99 for a sandwich) and an Italian hero large enough for two on a seeded loaf ($8.99). There’s also the garlicky roast beef ($10.99) that Rob makes in-house using top round from Weichsel Beef Co. — his cousin’s wholesale meat market in Manhattan, one of the few remaining in the Meatpacking District. “I like it pink,” says Rob, who makes sure it’s prepared properly medium rare.
All American Channel Market: 925 Cross Bay Blvd., at W. 10th Rd., Queens; (718) 945-7400
New kid on the block
Like the All American Channel Market next door, the newest restaurant in Broad Channel is also owned by Rob and Alex Pisani. The months-old Rocco’s Pizzeria is a sparkling-clean space, featuring sleek granite counters, a shiny new oven and a pizza maker with 20 years of experience baking pies on Hillside Ave. in Queens.
The specialties of the house are the square slices: like a “Sicilian Grand Ma” with a skinny, crispy crust topped with fresh basil ($3); a thick Sicilian where the sauce tops the cheese ($2.75); and an oversized $5 stuffed “Roman” filled with sliced potatoes, sausage and pepperoni.
There are also stuffed garlic knots, little twists of buttery dough sliced open and stuffed with meat and cheese. Three cost $4.
Rocco’s Pizzeria: 921 Cross Bay Blvd. at W. 10th Rd., Queens; (718) 945-2244
For at least 50 years, Grassy Point Bar & Grill has served as both a beloved watering hole and a living museum of American and Broad Channel history. Nearly every corner of the vast bar — an old wooden house with a tree-shaded backyard and a horseshoe pit — is filled with antiques and oddities collected by the owner.
In the hallway to the screened-in porch, you’ll find dozens of postcards from Rockaway Beach and the surrounding neighborhoods throughout the past century. On the walls and tucked into the shelves surrounding the snug wooden booths are mementos from old TV shows, collectible Coke bottles from 1960s national sports championships, the waxed paper cups Dairy Queen once used to serve ice cream, and pins from presidential candidates like Dwight Eisenhower.
If that’s not enough entertainment, there’s also a pool table. And on Sundays, says bartender Tim Macklin, the owner uses the kitchen to make steaks, lamb chops, “other pub grub” and at least one house-made soup, sold for $4.95 a bowl. Those are “outrageous,” says Macklin, who usually comes in on his day off to have them.
Grassy Point Bar & Grill: 18-02 Cross Bay Blvd., at W. 18th Rd., Queens; (718) 474-1688