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Dining Out: Two friends from Queens are proud of their Bayside cafe

BOULEVARD OF DREAMS

29-02 Francis Lewis Blvd., Bayside

461-5444 (fax 461-0194)

Boulevard of Dreams is a place to hang out, to have a snack. We happened upon it on a Saturday night about 6:30.

The small, glassed-in, corner cafe and grill was filled with just a table for four vacant. A steady boom-boom-boom CD beat emanated from speakers and the beat continued loud and clear, without interruption while we supped.

It’s an informal place with a mural covering the back wall — a compilation of blow-ups of movie stars like Jerry Lewis, Jimmy Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe.

A white brick oven manned by an Italian-born pizza chef dominates the cafe. He’s wearing an ultra white, ultra floppy chef’s hat as he prepares an array of pizzas for eat-in or take-out. A small bar is off to one side. A glass refrigerated case exhibiting inviting pastries stands besides the door.

The price is right. At this hour, a mature crowd is having a night out. As the hour gets later, as so often is the case, the crowd gets younger.

Boulevard of Dreams is a late-night alternative open Sunday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to midnight and from Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday and Monday evening, there’s NFL football viewing.

Let’s eat. Popcorn shrimp had been on my must-try list. This was it. we really loved them. Thumb tip-sized tidbits were all shrimp with just a thin coating. Two dipping sauces were offered. I liked the bite of ketchup, better than the tarter.

But we couldn’t be enthusiastic about the artichoke and spinach dip. It was a stiff mass surrounded by tortilla chips, wondrously delicate tortilla chips. When our waitress (with startling purple fingernails) saw us by ass it, she offered to take it back. (Let me add right now — artichoke and spinach dip is one of B of D's most popular appetizers — chef’s off night?)

We split a Caesar salad. My dining companion liked it very much. It was good but not the classic Caesar. And for the fun of it, we tried a brick-oven pizza, regular (fresh marinara sauce and pizzas arrive on a chromium stand. The crust is super thin.

There were nine choices from guattro formagio to quattro staggone with plum tomatoes, pepperoni, mushrooms and peppers. She, a traditionalist, ordered pasta marinara. I, the Presley Platter — rib eye steak “fit for a king.” It came with a heap of french fries, sliced tomato and garnish. The sauce dead center on the penne was exceedingly thick (and another version at another table looked identical). My steak was overdone — maybe the King liked them that way (Or was it the Chef’s off night?)

We investigated the pastries in the refrigerated case. She selected the cheese cake, a really dense American cheese cake. The tiramisu cake encircled by lady fingers looked outrageous but I went with our waitress’ recommendation — chocolate mousse cake. It was chocolate coated, chocolate layers, chocolate mousse filled.

After coffee we exited to the same beat.

Light meal or snack possibilities are: Lots of wraps named for Sammy Davis, Dean Martin and Monroe. From the grill — burgers, steak (Sinatra) and chicken sandwiches. Salads topped with chicken and shrimp. Sausage and pepper heroes. And those brick oven pizzas. Attilo and Peppe Giocoli and Paddy McCutchen, three friends growing up in Queens, always spoke of having a place that people could go to enjoy their favorite sports team and have a good time.

Boulevard is their dream.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A brick oven pizza/grill /cafe. Mural of silver screen stars. Thin crust pizzas. Lots of wraps. A place to hang out. A place to have a snack. Open late nights.

CHEF’S CHOICE

Fried Calamari...$7.95

Artichoke and Spinach Dip (served with tortilla chips)...$5.95

Penne ala Vodka (penne pasta in a traditional vodka sauce)...$7.95

Brick Oven Margherita (plum tomatoes,

mozzarella and fresh basi1)...$8.95

Pizza Picanta (marinara sauce,topped with spicy Italian sausage)...$6.95

Peach Soorbet...$4.75

Chocolate Mousse Cake...$4.00

Cuisine: Brick oven pizza, grill, cafe

Setting: Silver screen star mural, white brick pizza oven

Service: Good

Hours: L&D 7 days. Open late nights

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Street

Credit cards: All major

Smoking: None

Music: With a beat

Private parties: To 75

Takeout: Yes

Children: Menu In process

Handicapped access: Yes

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