I Left My Heart….in FLORESTA

Many of you have heard me wax poetic about the Argentine chorizo from my buddy Alejandro Cantagallo who ran the family butcher shop, “Don Francisco’s Meats” in Jackson Heights, Queens (they make their own chorizo on site). Well, Alejandro  has since closed the butcher shop, and has opened a new eating establishement, named for a beloved neighborhood in Buenos Aires called Floresta serving mouthwatering Argentine favorites.

I usually start out a review with a picture of the restaurant entrance, and a view of the interior, but I can honestly say,  I was so jazzed about the food that I forgot to document the “front of the house”. I had chosen Floresta to celebrate my friend Jimmy Johnson’s birthday, and it proved to be the perfect choice. Floresta has it’s liquor license pending, so Alejandro encourages BYOB, which I was happy to do.

When you are seated in Floresta, you are welcomed with a basket of bread accompanied by 2 small bowls of Don Francisco’s famous chimichurri sauce, one sweet, and one hot. The stuff is absolutely addicting, and I can say that because I’ve actually taken the Don F tutorial at his butcher shop with His Lordship himself, Don Francisco!

The chimichurri was so delicious, that I had to scold Jimmy not to spoil his appetite by eating too much of the delicious sauces on his bread! Thankfully, Alejandro brought out a sampler of his delicious, fried-ever-so -light empanadas which included, ham and cheese, chicken, and beef. We slathered them with the spicy chimi, and I barely reminded myself to photograph them for your pleasure.

By this time I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of things to come, and Chef Alejandro did not disappoint. We followed our empanada fest with a delicious salad that included baby greens, watercress, dried cranberries, tomato, and candied pecans and a Ham and cheese board that included,proscuitto, breasola, mortadella and jamon serrano while the cheeses boasted goat, gorgonzola, sardo, and parmesan. I documented the salad, but I’m afraid the board was completely unresistable and we devoured it before I could take it’s pretty picture!

Next out were the most delicious and light gnocchi I have ever had (Chef Alejandro shared his secret!!) which you can have with traditional tomato sauce, hazlenut butter, and pesto (he may have another sauce which escapes me…vodka?), and a perfectly fried Milanesa de Pollo ( you can get beef or pork, as well) served with a squeeze of lemon, that was crunchy and crisp on the outside, and delightfully juicy on the inside…perfection!

You are totally going to laugh when I tell you what happened next: we went into a food frenzy!! My party turned into a ravenous pack of wild animals as we attacked plate after plate from the kitchen, which I failed to document. We went through the traditional skirt steak of course, perfectly roasted chicken, grilled sweetbreads, grilled pork baby back ribs, salmon (for the vegetarian at the table), and habit forming garlic and herb fried potatoes. I’m not going to lie…I worked up a sweat!

When we regained our senses, dessert appeared as if by magic: a delicious Dulce de Leche Birthday Crepe for Jimmy, luscious Panna Cotta with a selection of 4 fruit sauces, Flan with Creme Chantilly, Apple Crepe Flambe, and a Chocolate-Mint Pot de Creme with a mint sugar crust.  Time to loosen my belt!

To say that our meal was stupendous doesn’t put a dent in how much we enjoyed it. The portions are generous and Chef Alejandro has a balanced hand with the seasoning, and the love of his craft is evident in the execution.  Floresta is open for lunch and dinner, and does a brisk catering service as well. On the way out the door, I asked Chef if his glorious empanadas were available for purchase in their raw state , for frying at home. He answered with an emphatic “YES!”, which is a huge plus in my book, because then you can tell your guests that you made them yourself! 😉

Floresta

41-01 Greenpoint Avenue

Sunnyside, NY 11104

718 784 1305

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5 Responses to “I Left My Heart….in FLORESTA”


  1. 1 Paulina Andrade August 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I cannot disagree more with the assessment of this place. The food and service were both horrible. I went one night for dinner with a friend of mine and it must have been a slow night because only 3 tables had people. Well, the service was slow from the get go. The lady who walked us in sat us fairly quickly but after that they were extremely slow to take the order and then to actually bring out the food. Again, only 3 tables were being occupied.

    The dinner came out and the steak which apparently is what this place is known for or specializes in was over-cooked. The meat was tough and not tender unlike other Argentinean places I have had dinner at. The salad had a lot of leaves that were past their expiration date because they were dark dark green and soft, not crisp. The salad dressing was good but I can only question if this is prepared at the restaurant or bought somewhere. Either way, it was the best part of the dinner.

    The restaurant makes an attempt at having style but the tables for 2 are very flimsy and always shaking from side to side without stabilizers. In addition, I would question the cleanliness of the place. Seemed clean in outside areas but I saw a lot of flies for a restaurant. Not a good thing to see as you eat.

    The area was okay as it’s located toward the less traveled area of Greenpoint Avenue. It’s dark at night at there doesn’t seem to be much traffic coming into the restaurant. I would have preferred a great Argentinean experience but, in the end, I got a sense of a restaurant barely making any money…cutting corners to fill orders, and soon to be closed. I completely disagree with the review above.

    • 2 Alejandro Cantagallo August 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      Pauline,
      I’m very sorry that you did not have a good experience dining with us. We try our best to serve quality food consistently and I apologize if your experience was a big let down. If you’d be willing to give us another chance I’d be happy to buy you dinner. If not, then again I apologize and wish you the best. You can email me directly at chefcantagallo@florestany.com

      Sincerely,
      Alejandro

    • 3 Daisy August 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

      Paulina,

      I can honestly say that my experience at Floresta was 180 degrees opposite of yours, and I too am sorry you don’t share my opinion. While there, the servers were attentive but not intrusive, and at the risk of repeating myself, the food was impeccably prepared, seasoned, and presented.
      I read Alejando’s post, and as always, he continues to be a class act.

      Best,

      Daisy

  2. 4 Sirina August 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Daisy, I really enjoyed reading about your birthday celebration. You put so much heart into writing it I almost felt like I was eating along with you.

    The food at Floresta is delicious – simply prepared and flavorful. My secret goal is to try every entry on Floresta’s menu. So far, the french fries seasoned with fresh parsley and garlic are my favorite and the skirt steak over arugala salad just perfect.

    I always ask for dessert and hope they offer a tasting. I got lucky a few nights ago and tried a crepe tasting. Yummy.

    Floresta is where I go for a home cooked meal without having to do the dishes. Thinking of having lunch there tomorrow!

  3. 5 Natasha Livingston September 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I love your cookbook, “Daisy Cooks”!! I actually got the cookbook five years ago and have been using it ever since(the book is soo frayed!! Pages are coming out of if from me using it soo much!). I have made the wonderful Pernil and the Puerto Rican Beef Stew!! I was soo elated to find this blog as the Food Network show you had I no longer see it in their lineup!! Big fan and I will be getting your new book as well!! Take care and keep the good food coming!


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