2013-03-20 / Restaurant of the Week

DEE’S

Dee’s opened in 1993 just down the road from its current location and made its name by making extraordinary pizza in a 100 percent wood-burning oven, using handmade dough, fresh mozzarella and T.L.C. that you can taste in every bite of pizza and foccaccia. That legacy continues today on Metropolitan Avenue where the fire still glows at an astounding 800 degrees!

Dee’s is beautifully decorated in a sleek, modern tableau of exposed brick, dark wood floors and soft lighting. I love the whimsical “rock climbers” on the brick wall in the front dining room. The other two dining rooms are equally as spacious, allowing for intimate meals for two or for groups of friends and families. One dining room is designated for private parties and your guests will feel warm and welcome here and the food is top notch. Dee’s is eponymously named for the owner and chef, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, who developed the menu and constantly tweaks it to meet the desires of his faithful clientele, and reflect the freshest ingredients of the season.

While you peruse the extensive, well-crafted menu, the barman will mix you up your favorite cocktail or serve a fine bottle of wine. I settled in with a ruby red Montepulciano while Armin, the congenial manager brought me their signature garlic foccaccia. The intense heat of the wood-burning oven makes the crust so impossibly light and tender, you can practically inhale it. The same is true for their pizza, and although this writer is a purist when it comes to pizza, you can choose any topping you wish from the menu, or simply create your own. You can even choose a whole wheat version and they will make a kid size pie for the little ones.

After that, the Point Judith calamari, caught in Rhode Island, gets a special batter and are fried to a crispy finish, yet remain tender inside. The Roman style artichokes were reminiscent of a recent trip Dee made to the Eternal City, grilled so their natural sweetness comes out, then drizzled with truffle oil ($10). Manila clams with chorizo sausage are sautéed in a heavenly cognac sauce that must be soaked up with more foccaccia, while the coconut shrimp are great for sharing and dipping into the chipotle sauce that accompanies them. The “Bermuda Triangle” is a great appetizer to share with plenty of sweet crab cakes, fried calamari, and sautéed shrimp to go around. Peppercorn crusted tuna sushi is served seared on the outside and cool in the middle, as it should. Your friendly server will tell you about the soups of the day and any additional special items.

Entrées at Dee’s include plenty of pasta dishes, meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Dee’s famous lasagna is made with three cheeses, rich Bolognese sauce and topped with house made béchamel for a dish that you’ll gladly take home for leftovers ($18). Toothsome rigatoni is topped with a roasted eggplant, marinara sauce and a dollop of ricotta cheese for a dish that you’ll love ($14). Try something different such as their bow tie pasta with shredded, roasted chicken, fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato sauce.

From the sizzling grill come three double racks of Australian baby lamb chops with mashed sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, this would make a great Easter Sunday dinner. Argentine style skirt steak is cooked to order and served with traditional garlic and parsley sauce called chimichurri ($25). Pesto grilled chicken paillard is a delicious way to eat light, served with a tri-color salad. Take comfort in mom’s meatloaf, topped with shoestring onion rings, served with good old fashioned mashed potatoes. Pan seared salmon rests on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with roasted red pepper sauce. Tilapia fillet is pan seared, then nestled on a bed of linguine with tomato beurre blanc sauce.

You wouldn’t think that Dee’s would serve burgers but in fact they do, and they are some of the best around. The 10-ounce grilled Angus is the star of the show, cooked to order and served on a fluffy brioche bun to soak up all the juices. I love the crunchy, curry cole slaw, and their fries are both irresistible and addictive so be warned. I can’t say enough about the rosemary turkey burger. In most restaurants turkey burgers are a dry, tasteless affair. Dee’s turkey burgers are juicy, meaty and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of rosemary so that you can still enjoy the turkey and bun. Try one for lunch or dinner any day of the week.

Save room for dessert, where, if you are lucky enough, Dee’s mom will have made her own Armenian rice pudding using a family recipe. If it’s not available, not to worry, because the key lime pie is out of this world, as are the other daily dessert specials that your server will tell you about. After work, on a date, before or after a movie, or for any night out, you’ll be dazzled by Dee’s world class pizza from the wood-burning oven, innovative dishes, lovely décor, and excellent service. .Dee’s is open six days a week for lunch and dinner (closed Mondays). You owe yourself a meal at Dee’s!

107-23 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills / 718.793.7553

www.deesnyc.com

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