Don’t let the rope outside rub you the wrong way; there’s nothing pretentious about Chef Ricardo Cardona’s creatively reimagined Dominican food. Nestled inside what used to be an auto shop, Gabbana is an open, two-level space with cozy, dark blue leather booths, live Colombian music, and a chimichurri dish to moan over.
Recognizing that many neighborhood residents hail from across Latin America, Chef Cardona incorporates Mexican, Venezuelan and other flavors. His attention to bringing the best out of Dominican food, however, is where the menu really shines. “We wanted to take items no one’s done before and make them high-end,” says restaurateur and manager Yamil Martinez. The chimichurri appetizer is one of these new items. A popular Dominican street food, chimichurris are typically grilled sandwiches made of pork and beef; here, the chimichurri becomes a trio of sophisticated sliders, topped with savory coleslaw. Under the intimate lighting from brass hanging lamps, indulge in another must-order amuse-gueule called the cazuelita de chivo, a braised goat served in a red-wine reduction that sits on a bed of mashed malanga. The menu also gives a nod to the Dominican Republic’s large East Asian population with a delicious ginger and papaya glazed Chilean sea bass paired with a side of shrimp fried rice.
For Manhattanites thinking their trip to Queens will only be for food, Gabbana keeps customers’ toes tapping with unplugged Mondays and Wednesday’s Noche Colombiana, a weekly event celebrating the best music from Colombia. Visit on Tuesdays to enjoy a $22 pre-fixe menu, or unwind on Thursdays with a little hookah.
How to get there: From Grand Central, take the 7 train to 111th Street Station, then hope the Q48 Bus to 108 St-Northern Blvd. Walk to 10711 Northern Blvd. Visit HopStop.com for specific directions from you starting destination.
(Gabbana Restaurant & Lounge, 10711 Northern Blvd., Corona, 718.565.5479, gabbanany.com)