(Stuffed chicken with carrot-ginger puree at Bear Restaurant)
No time to brine a turkey? Or lunch is taken care of, but you just want to relax with friends and have something besides leftovers with mayo on bread for dinner? Here are a few of my most highly recommended options (that are definitely open) in the neighborhood for enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving meal without slaving away over your own stove!
Baked ziti at Ornella Trattoria
It is no secret that one of my favorite restaurants in all of New York City is Ornella Trattoria (29-17 23rd Ave). Not only is the regional Italian cuisine some of the most delicious anywhere, but the family that runs the restaurant is one of the most loving and wonderful families I have ever met... truly my own New York City family away from home. Giuseppe, Ornella, and their sons welcome you into their restaurant as though you were beloved kin. With well over a hundred menu options (they'll make you things not even on the menu), there really isn't a place that feels more like home anywhere. Check out their unique homemade pastas (made from chickpea flour or chestnut flour), or try the imbustata (chicken, veal, mushroom, spinach, and mascarpone stuffed pasta envelope baked in robust tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella). Every thing here is exceptional, and made with genuine love.
The Bison Burger with homemade B.B.Q. sauce, jalapenos, crispy onion strings & pepper jack
Following its initial soft opening, Burger Club (32-02 30th Ave) has drastically upped its game. With just a few minor modifications, this place has proven it is around to stay... with some of the most incredible burger options in the neighborhood. The ingredients are fresh, prepared to order (try the beer battered onion rings or mozzarella fritters with prosciutto), and available in every combination imaginable. Start off with the braised short rib and melted cheddar loaded fries, chow down on a juicy Pat LaFrieda blend of chuck and hanger steak on buttery challah, and finish up with a peanut butter banana malted chocolate ball milkshake. This place is as All-American as it gets, and without any gimmicks. For Thanksgiving, they promise to offer some traditional Turkey Day specials. Plus their liquor license is ready within a few weeks.
Sweet potato gnocchi in browned butter sage sauce with romano cheese
I am crazy in love with the family and the cuisine at Long Island City's newest restaurant, Bear (12-14 31st Ave). Be sure to check out their wonderful Thanksgiving 5-course prix fixe served from 3-10PM. While they are offering traditional Thanksgiving items, I highly recommend the sweet potato gnocchi in brown butter sage sauce with shaved Romano. Then again, the sea scallops are succulent and enormous, served with a vibrant autumn risotto. For elegance and beautifully executed plates as delicious as they look, this is one of the very best options.
TQK's killer mac & cheese
Their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are famous. Their coffee and beverages are cutting edge. The energy is tangible. And there really is nothing less than glowing that can be said about The Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway) and their wonderful crew. And while the sandwiches and coffee may steal the spotlight, the sides are not to be missed. This macaroni and cheese is out of control, with golden browned smoked mozzarella, gruyere, and cheddar studded with slivers of french green beans, all blanketed in a light tomato cream sauce. I know I speak on behalf of the whole neighborhood when I say we are thankful to have The Queens Kickshaw just around the corner.
The Astor Bake Shop (12-23 Astoria Blvd) will be open until 4PM today. Although the chocolate glazed pumpkin mousse cheesecake (below) is out of this world, don't skip over the savory options, like the triple decker croque madame (above). The herb-seasoned fries and salted lemonade are must-try additions. Chef McKirdy's baked treats are undeniably some of the finest anywhere, but don't be fooled. This is much more than your average bake shop... the burgers and sandwiches are equally drool-worthy. And yes, this is absolutely where I would swing by to grab a dessert to take to Thanksgiving if I really wanted to impress my friends and family.