With its reputation as one of Forest Hills' best places to get together with friends and family, Exo Cafe has become the place to go to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers or brunch. This trendy and casual hotspot located on Austin Street has three levels, an open-loft area, a wrap-around central bar with five flat screens, rooms and space for quiet rendezvous … [Read More...] about Forest Hills Go To Spot For All Occasions: Exo Cafe
Friendly, fresh, and fragrant… all words to describe the atmosphere and food of Cipollina Italian Market! Half store, half cozy coffee shop, Cipollina is Forest Hills’ go to place for Italian delights. The friendly service and authentic merchandise provide a quality place for breakfast, lunch, or a midday treat.
Cipollina Italian Market has a variety of unique Italian merchandise such as olive oils, vinegars, pastas, sauces, cheeses, coffee, baked goods, cookies, charcuterie, craft beer, and more! New merchandise is delivered three times a week.
We chatted briefly with the owner, Antonio Principato, and his daughter Christine about Cipollina. Antonio emigrated from Genoa (northwest Italy, bordering France) to the United States about 30 years ago. He bakes the cakes on-site and carefully selects the merchandise sold in the store.
1. We read that Cipollina is a family-run business. Could you please tell our readers when Cipollina first opened its doors and why the founder chose Forest Hills?
Cipollina is indeed a family-run business. We first opened our doors in December 2015 and we chose Forest Hills because there wasn’t anything else like it in the area and a place like ours was needed. We wanted to bring this concept to Forest Hills specifically, because we live in the area and felt personally invested in it.
2. A Yelp comment about Cipollina caught our attention. The customer said:
Just walking into this store makes me so happy! I try to stop in before visiting home to pick up an Italian treat for my grandparents. This store always delivers a great assortment, amazing (truly amazing) coffee and delicious desserts. This neighborhood gem is a MUST VISIT for all!
Could you tell us what Italian treats are most popular at Cipollina?
As far as treats go, you can’t stop in and not pick up a slice of one of Antonio’s handmade cakes or a piece of our bread pudding.
For it to really be a treat, we recommend pairing one of these delights with a cappuccino or latte (in a mug to stay for a bit, of course). Basically, we try to always carry the classics while constantly searching for new products that are not only fun and interesting, but that also maintain the authenticity we pride ourselves in.
3. We’re so glad that Cipollina offers online shopping, and you have same day delivery at a nominal fee for a minimum purchase of $20. What’s your delivery range?
We have joined forces with Mercato to deliver groceries to all 5 boroughs at a very reasonable price. Customers from all over can access the 100s of products we offer at the click of a mouse and can usually receive them in the same day!
For the delivery of sandwiches, coffee, and pastries, we have paired with UberEATS and can pretty much deliver anywhere locally with very fast turnaround time.
Our menu can be found at: Cipollina
4. Could you please give us suggestions on which type of salumi and cheese (and quantities) to buy to create an amazing charcuterie platter for 10 people?
When making a charcuterie platter, a priority is considering which flavors pair well together, but you also want to make sure there is variety in texture and flavors. There are all sorts of cheeses, aged, soft, firm, etc. For the platter, try picking one of each so that you and your guests can sample a wide variety of flavors.
As far as salumi, prosciutto di Parma is a must! We also love adding different types of salame and sopressata, be sure to pick one. To give the presentation a rustic touch, we suggest complementing the salumi and cheeses with dried or fresh fruits, nuts, olives, some jam or honey and a nice, crisp ciabatta. As far as quantities, it really all depends on if the charcuterie platter will be an appetizer or the star of the show.
5. You are known for your coffee as well. What makes a perfect cup of coffee?
Christine: I think the real reason we are known for our coffee is because of my dad. He has chosen amazing whole beans to use for our espresso. On top of that, he truly puts his heart into every single espresso shot he pulls and every cappuccino he makes. People come in requesting him by name.
6. What are some top items in your store from Italy that every reader who loves Italian cooking should get?
Anyone who loves good Italian cooking, or any cooking for that matter, should invest in a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil. We recommend Bono Cold Extracted, Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Next, we recommend good Italian tomatoes! Mutti is our family’s favorite brand, they make an excellent sauce.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a must as a topping on any plate of pasta or just to eat as a snack!
With some input from Antonio Principato, the owner, we picked out a bottle of pesto imported from Genoa, a bag of Italian-made Gnocchi, and a wedge of Italian Parmigiano Reggiano. We were given a simple Italian cooking lesson for a delicious dinner!
1 bag of gnocchi
2-3 tablespoon of pesto
Shredded parmigiano reggiano
Bring water to a boil, add the gnocchi, cook them for a minute and until they rise up to the surface.
Then scoop them out (Make sure you reserve a little of the water to add to the gnocchi and pesto if needed)
Add pesto to the gnocchi (add reserved water for sauce if needed)
Top with shredded parmigiano reggiano
Take a few minutes to learn more about Cipollina Italian Market and their fresh authentic products at: Cipollina Market.
If you think of Spider-man when you hear about Forest Hills, Queens, New York, then you are going to love the unique finds at Royal Collectibles!
This novelty shop is found right in the heart of Spider-man’s hometown! Royal Collectibles was established in 1992 and is committed to providing the collector with personal service, fun events, and interesting merchandise. As their name indicates, this store features a wide variety of collectibles, toys, games, vintage trading cards, and sports memorabilia. Additionally, expect to encounter a variety of comics (Silver-age to modern) and graphic novels.
Forest Hills Today caught up with Royal Collectibles manager, Laura Lazauskas who gave the low-down on this high-interest shop:
1. We read that Royal Collectibles is a family-owned, continuously operating business in Forest Hills for over 20 years. Could you please tell our readers how Royal Collectibles got started?
Royal Collectibles started as a father & son business back in the 90s. In the beginning, they were selling comics as street vendors in the city until they decided to open an actual shop. After some time, the father retired and sold his half of the business to a long-time customer and family friend. They’re not technically related, but may as well be brothers! Over the years we’ve had siblings and spouses of both families helping out at the shop!
2. Why did the founders start a business in Forest Hills and what distinguishes Forest Hills from other neighborhoods?
I can’t speak to the original reason why they chose Forest Hills, but I would imagine having grown up nearby in Middle Village, Forest Hills must have seemed to them like a great place to start a business. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with clean, quiet streets… a nice place to raise a family. However, you’ve still got the hustle and bustle of Metropolitan Avenue that brings new people in all the time. Plus – Forest Hills is the hometown of Spider-Man himself! Peter Parker is said to have lived on Ingram Street in the original comics from the 1960s. I like to think that’s a big part of the reason!
3. To a complete novice in comics, we have no idea what a “pull list” and “slab a comic” means. Could you please educate us on these two words: PULL LIST and SLAB A COMIC?
A pull list is basically a subscription list for comic books. It is a list of comic books that a customer collects. They would give this list to their local shop, and as the comics from their list are released every week, the shop holds the comics for the customer to pick up at their convenience. Not all shops offer a pull list service, but we do. We offer 10% off cover price for customers who have pull lists with us. It helps us to know what comics to order and stock for our store and it helps the customers keep their collections intact and current, no need to worry about missing an issue because it sold out right off the shelf!
“Slabbing a comic” refers to having a comic book’s condition professionally graded. CGC is the most well-known company that does this. Grading is used for buying and selling highly collectible comics. A third party (CGC) has a team of professionals that examine the condition of a comic, give it a grade out of 10, then seal it in a tamper-proof case. Some people do it to preserve their comic books as well. Grading a comic is a guarantee that the book is in the condition that it is purported to be in.
Having a comic book graded or slabbed greatly influences the value. For example, the first appearance of the character Deadpool is in the issue New Mutants #98 from 1991. These issues are typically bought and sold unslabbed or ungraded in the range of $100 to $400 depending on the condition. But if you have a really high-grade copy, the price goes up. A CGC 9.6 of the same issue will sell for $450 or more, and a CGC 9.8 will sell for $700-800! So, for really high value books, it could mean the difference of thousands of dollars since the desirability for the best condition copy will influence the price.
4. These days many millennials and even baby boomers are shopping online. How does Royal Collectibles compete with giants like Amazon and others in the online shopping platform?
We can’t deny that online shopping for comics and collectibles has definitely affected the business, but we try to look more to the positive side of it. Many people are going to shop for the cheapest way to get comics (digital or printed) online, and we understand that, but we also find a lot of people still like to shop in an old-fashioned brick and mortar comic shop. There’s something about comics… having them in your hands and flipping through them… that people will always prefer. Plus, I think a big part of our success is customer service – your computer is never going to recommend a great storyline it read years ago that it thinks you might like (or maybe it will? Who knows!). The comic hobby can be tough to navigate for new readers, and hopefully, that’s where stores like ours come in, offering quality customer service to help guide people in all areas of the hobby. And if online venues are getting more comics into the general public’s hands (or ipads), then I feel like it will benefit stores like ours in the long run as hopefully, they will find their way into our shop one day.
5. How has the neighborhood changed in the last ten years?
I feel like the neighborhood has stayed mostly the same over the years. However, one of the biggest changes was the school that opened across the street from our store. We’ve seen lots of new faces (and new traffic jams, haha) as a result. Still an amazing place to live and work!
6. Royal Collectibles often has celebrities drop by or have invited special guests to autograph and meet customers. Could you please name a few celebrities that were here?
Certainly, a few years back we had David Mazouz at our shop who plays Bruce Wayne on Fox’s Gotham TV series. Last year John Barrowman (from Arrow and Doctor Who) stopped by for a fun visit taking some fans on a shopping spree. We’ve had lots of famous wrestlers including Bret Hart, the Hardy Boys, Jake “The Snake”, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Mickie James, and more. We’ve had several comic creators at our store including the legendary Neal Adams as well as lots of other talented creators like Khary Randolph, Cory Smith, Robbi Rodriguez, Rebekah Isaacs, and more.
7. What is the hottest item to collect now?
I’d have to go with Funko Pops; they seem to be taking over our store! If you haven’t heard of them, they are little vinyl figurines styled in all your favorite characters produced by the company, Funko. People can’t seem to get enough of them! They make one for almost all your favorite characters from TV, movies, comics, history, music, everything!
Want to know more?
Check out: Royal Collectibles’ website for more info on this unique Forest Hills shop.
Note: Be sure to stop by and visit Royal Collectibles on Small Business Saturday, November 25th. Expect to find sales throughout the entire store!