Foodie Finds Memories: My 7 Favorite Extinct New York Restaurants

by Gil Kreiter / Jul 04, 2008 /
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My Seven Favorite Restaurants in New York

"Put a raw egg in it" my dad told the counterman at the Eat Shoppe Luncheonette.   We always sat at the counter on the rotating stools, I would spin around while waiting for my chocolate malted, with a raw egg blended in, and English muffin. 
I don't remember ever eating anything else there, but I do remember my dad asking the short order cook working at the front window to "burn the bacon".  He liked everything well done.  The Eat Shoppe moved from the NW corner of Broadway and 96th Street to the east side of Broadway between 96th and 95th Streets in the early '70s. Once the two brothers who ran it retired, it closed.

For dinner with my dad and sister we would go to the cavernous cafeterias in the  garment district.  My favorite was Dubrow's at 38th St and Seventh Avenue.  They made cheese blintzes with a thin soft wrapper.  The cheese inside was never rubbery.  I can still taste the cold sour cream on the slightly sweet cheese blintzes.  My sister would have cottage cheese and sour cream with cold mixed vegetables cut in.  She hated it.

My dad's favorite garment district cafeteria was the Governor's.  Here we got a ticket when we got on line.  As we went down the line each counterman would punch the ticket adding the cost of what we ordered from them.  "Slice the roast beef thinner!" my dad would yell.  We would get meat, two boiled vegetables, bread, a little salad and dessert. While we sat there eating, the garment workers would come in for their dinner.  My dad would point out two or three of them and say "that one is a poet, that one is a poet too".

At Mill Luncheonette they knew the secret to good chocolate malteds.  Milk with ice chips floating in it and of course, adding malt.  Whenever I ordered a malted milk in the '80s I would ask, "do you put malt in it?" Invariably they would say "no". "Then how can you call it a malted milk?"  That philosophical question was never answered to my satisfaction. Now Mill Luncheonette is Mill Korean Restaurant.

Across Broadway from Mill and up the street from Tom's Restaurant which was used on Seinfeld was College Inn which was a good hamburger and malt shop we went to when we were in Columbia. The biggest distinction between diners is if they know how to make a chocolate malted.  The next level down is if they give you the steel mixing canister with your glass of malted,
or leave it at the counter to drink themselves.  At College Inn and the Eat Shoppe and Mill Luncheonette they always brought the canister to you.

Whenever Joan of Arc JHS 118 let out at 3 PM, all the businesses on Amsterdam Ave would lock their doors for an hour except the pizzerias. Sal's Pizzeria was on Broadway and 94th St.
It was very narrow, standing room only.  Behind the counter was Sal and his younger brother Carmine.  I asked Carmine once why he didn't leave the oregano on the counter.  He said that drug dealers would steal it to cut with the marijuana.  This was he can keep an eye on it. Sal and Carmine only made pizza, no calzones, no zeppoles, no pasta.  They made the dough and
let it rise under the counter.  They made the rich tomato sauce that they ladled onto the dough and spread with the back of the ladle.  They did not make five pies and warm up a slice for you when you came in.  They knew the ebb and flow of business during the day and made pies fresh when you came in.  Sometimes you had to wait.  I waited.

For my birthday I always asked to go to Copenhagen.  I don't know what was on the menu, all I needed was the smorgasbord in the middle of the restaurant.  On it was herring prepared in different ways: herring in cream, herring in wine, pickled herring, smoked herring.  I was such a good eater
the owner would come by to thank me.

You can't eat memories. 

 

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