When I was a kid in Brooklyn, my parents had a strange Sunday afternoon custom.
We'd get all dressed up, go over to JFK airport and hang out for a while in the International Departures Terminal. My parents would pick a fantasy flight..sometimes Barcelona, sometimes Rome, sometimes Tel Aviv. They would talk to people and watch the airplanes, while I sank into some chair slightly mortified. Then we would go back to Canarsie and eat Italian Food at Genovese House or Anna Napoli.
The days of lurking around airport departure gates to kill time have long since gone, but I just rediscovered a lot of childhood memories at Anthony's Runway 84.
I haven't been to Anthony's Runway 84 in a while and, with all the new, shiny restaurants opening on a nearly daily basis, sometimes it's easy to pass over a restaurant that's been around for 30 years or so. But, on this Saturday evening, my husband suggested having a meal at the bar of this plane-centric restaurant.
Anthony's Runway 84 bar is straight out of a Brooklyn movie set -- complete with patrons from central casting. Behold the women with big teased hair, animal print dresses, and extremely large jewels. The men wear button down shirts with cufflinks. Everyone appears to be having a great time, laughing, drinking, and eating Flintstone-sized platters of pasta and sausage.
The bartender brings a wine menu but she will not take food orders. That's left to a waiter assigned to the bar. It makes for an awkward ending to the meal (two separate checks arrive -- both needing the same credit card).
But who cares about the destination when at Runway 84 it's the journey that counts. And right now, you're inside an airplane cockpit bound for somewhere exotic -- at least that's what it feels like. False windows depict scenes of runways and city sky vistas. Baggage claim tickets are embedded in the wood bar with shellac. A giant Delta jet floats over the liquor bottles. You would almost expect your meals to arrive on a plastic sectioned tray. They do not.
Instead, what you get is classic Italian-American cuisine, served on oversized platters. As in Brooklyn, each dish can easily feed two people. We ordered four appetizers -- way too much food (but oh, so satisfying).
Clams Oreganata ($9), baked with breadcrumbs in a garlic and lemon sauce, were authentically Sheepshead Bay.
Civolata sausage is presented with broccoli rabe and roasted peppers. The sausage is spicy, the peppers are sweet. The combination is classic ($12). Escarole and beans were rich and creamy ($9).
By far, the stuffed Sicilian peppers were the knockouts. Stuffed with bread crumbs, capers, olives, anchovies, and cheese, they're served chilled with a generous offering of sharp Provolone and olives on the side ($9).
Although there are no more afternoons spent at the airport, if I ever want to relive those Sundays with my slightly-crazy-yet-imaginative parents, all I have to do is head to the bar at Anthony's Runway 84 and order a glass of wine. I'll look out at the pretend runway and brace myself for takeoff to some exotic city in my mind...like Brooklyn.
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