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Uncle Peter’s: Jackson Heights eatery becomes full-scale Continental

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83-15 Northern Blvd.

Jackson Heights

651-8600

fax 651-2400

By Carol Brock

The sign hanging above the storefront on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights proclaims “Uncle Peter’s Continental Cuisine.” It’s a sleeper. We were totally...

Uncle Peter’s

83-15 Northern Blvd.

Jackson Heights

651-8600

fax 651-2400

By Carol Brock

The sign hanging above the storefront on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights proclaims “Uncle Peter’s Continental Cuisine.” It’s a sleeper. We were totally unprepared for the ultra dining we enjoyed there.

Open the door and it’s delightfully cool, comfortably dark and squeaky neat. A band of copper girdles the narrow room. Copper hoods hang over tables along the perimeter; copper pans and etchings of melons adorn the walls.

Argentina-born Ernesto is the general manager. In 1983 when Pedro helped with the construction, Ernesto dubbed him “Pio”—Uncle. And then, Ernesto named the restaurant “Uncle Peter’s” for him.

At Uncle Peter’s now, it’s “all in the family”—brother Enrico, the captain; nephew Christian, a waiter; daughter Maria, behind the bar; and a brother-in-law, Ricardo, a bus boy. Spanish is spoken by some of the guests and Spanish tunes play softly in the background.

Racks at the entrance are filled with wine. On each table there’s a bottle of “the wine selection of the week” plus a heart-shaped bottle of olive oil for dipping. A halved, red glass geode strikingly holds a flickering candle.

In 1983, with Driss from Morocco at the range, Uncle Peter’s featured only French dishes. Later, Italian dishes were added, then American and now Spanish. Now, nearly 20 years later, it has evolved into Continental cuisine—not American Continental, but with European hallmarks. And Driss is still at the range.

After snacking on the two bruschetta, (the traditional and one that is sometimes cheese, sometimes fish, sometimes vegetable) my dining companion and I got down to the serious business of appetizer, entree and dessert. From the insert of specials (with prices, thank you) my dining companion chose crab-stuffed avocado, a favorite of hers, and was duly impressed with the bountiful base of crisp greens and the well-endowed avocado. I was overjoyed with my asparagus rolls on watercress. Not only were the rolls nestled in a big bouquet of watercress, but there was a tuft of bleached “albino” escarole for contrast and an asparagus spear garnish. Think mozzarella sticks, but with an asparagus bundled in ham and cheese, halved. It was stunning.

Her lamb chops, another of my companion’s favorites, was a high-kicking presentation with asparagus spears, potato and mixed vegetables. I had an oval plate of fine filleted fish with clams in their shells and shrimp in a super sauce with chopped fresh tomatoes and garlic. It was rather perfect with the full seafood flavor of a ciappino.

The dessert menu was quite sensational—so many “new” items. I couldn’t decide between the flan (creme caramel) with dulce de leche, Napoleon bread pudding or melon with zabaglione. Our delightful waiter (Was it Christian?) was consulted.

“Which would you choose,” we asked, and he replied, “Pecan tart with ice cream.” My companion wished crepes flambé, but only if it was flambéed at the table. “I flambé the tart, too,” he said. Well that did it. The tart was very French—only a quarter-inch thick with a topping of pecans and raisins, and arrived ablaze with plentiful vanilla ice cream. Her crepe was equally aflame under a wonderful assortment of fruits.

Espresso delighted my companion. It was more than a mouthful.

We had inquired about a colorful frozen drink served at another table in tall slender glasses. Piña colada, a house creation. That was served to us with red liquor on the bottom and a short red straw. It made for a fitting, festive, finale.

The Bottom Line

Delightful, small, European continental restaurant. Fine food. Excellent service. A sleeper.

Chef’s Choice

Jamon Serrano (Spanish style cured ham with manchego cheese)...$9 .50

Basalmic Grilled Portobello (served with roasted red peppers, fresh melted Mozzarella)...$7.95

Rigatoni à la Peter’s (with eggplant, zucchini and fresh plum tomatoes)...$12.95

Fettuccini Gamberi Bianco (with shrimp in a champagne tomato cream sauce)...$17.95

Pollo à la Grilla (grilled breast of chicken topped with avocado, tomato salad)...$13.95

Veal Scallopini with Funghi (sauced with a mushroom, Marsala wine sauce)...$16.95

Grilled Pork Chops (with fresh oregano served with homemade potato)...$14.98

Cuisine: European continental

Setting: Copper. Melon etchings. Red votives

Service: Excellent

Hours: L Mon. to Fri. D 7 days

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Valet W to Sun

Dress: Neat casual

Credit cards: All major

Children: Accommodate

Takeout: Yes & deliver

Off-premise catering: Yes

Private parties: To 75

Noise level: Moderate Fri & Sat

Smoking: Bar

Handicap access: Yes

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