2015-11-04 / Restaurant of the Week

Junior’s Café

Junior’s Café is legendary in Long Island City, having occupied its prominent position on the corner of Vernon Blvd. and 46th Rd. for 16 years. Just down the street, an amazing view of midtown Manhattan with the Chrysler building shining like a beacon gives you pause as you enter this classic, corner Italian restaurant. What makes Junior’s Cafe most special is Junior DiCaprio himself and the wonderful, welcoming staff led by manager Jasmine, who makes you feel like family.

The legend begins with Junior, who hand picks all the ingredients that go into the delicious Italian dishes served here. Nothing comes from a can or a freezer. When the special of the night runs out, you’ll choose another entrée that will be just as delicious. The loyal clientele continues to come, even with their kids in tow, for fresh pasta, meat, chicken, and excellent fish and seafood dishes prepared with love and pride by Chef Jerry.

The décor at Junior’s Café isn’t trying to be retro…it is the real deal, complete with vinyl bar stools, a glass-front bar and cool lighting. Best of all, the private party room at Junior’s Café has just been renovated and has hosted hundreds of family parties, business luncheons, dinners and celebrations of all kinds. With seating and service for up to 70 people, your guests will be “wow-ed” by the food, service, and the view of Manhattan with Gantry State Park just down the street. With the holidays quickly approaching, call now for your office holiday party or family party. They’re open Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day too. At Junior’s Café, you’ll find delicious pasta dishes, chicken, veal, steaks, and fish entrees, and arguably the best pizza in town all at great prices. There’s always a friendly crowd at the bar, sharing pizzas called “bar pies,” and plates of crispy calamari rings. Other appetizers on the menu include Junior’s famous baked clams, which are whole, fresh clams topped with crispy seasoned bread crumbs that we simply inhaled, along with the lemony sauce that my dining companion and I soaked up with warm, crusty bread ($8). Zuppa di mussels in garlicky red or white wine sauce is equally as good, as are the stuffed mushroom caps. There’s also bar-style Buffalo wings, fried zucchini, and mozzarella sticks, which are ideal for sharing with your friends.

Junior’s Café has great pasta dishes with one of my favorites being the penne with broccoli, garlic and oil for a simple and flavorful dish that Junior loves too. Choose your favorite pasta such as linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, ziti, or rigatoni, along with your favorite sauce. My “super model” friend loved Junior’s marinara sauce, but there’s also a rich Bolognese sauce with meat, red or white shrimp sauce with lots or garlic, and the Roman classic, Carbonara sauce with egg and smoky pancetta bacon. Baked ziti, manicotti, and stuffed shells remind me of my own grandmother, while the Junior’s Seafood platter is a seafood feast served over pasta, replete with mussels, clams, shrimp and calamari ($20.95).

Junior’s offers sizzling selections from the grill such as the NY Strip steak, cooked to order or thick cut pork chops, which I hear are very popular. Tender fillets of veal or chicken are prepared Marsala, Francese, or capriciosa style and all entrées are served with pasta, potato or fresh sautéed vegetables. Enjoy a juicy burger any time of day or night or a hot hero sandwich piled high with chicken or veal cutlet parmigiana, veal and peppers, meatball parmigiana, and more. Don’t forget the excellent pizza, which brings many locals in for one of their famous bar pies with pepperoni or your favorite toppings. These pies fly out the door for delivery too.

For dessert, choose among their homemade cheesecake, cannolis tartufo, or a slice of cool, coconut custard pie or apple pie, and freshly brewed coffee.

Visit Junior’s Café for lunch or dinner, seven days a week from 11am to 11pm. The friendly bar stays open later, so stop in for a night cap. They will happily deliver to your home or office every day and don’t forget the private party room for your next event. Credit cards are accepted and so are smiling customers so bring your friends, your family, and a big appetite to Junior’s Café where the legend of Long Island City is alive and well! Buon appetito!

46-18 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City

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