Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to Beebe's in LIC.
Beebe's, which opened in March in the lobby of the Boro Hotel in Long Island City, sits on the sort of nondescript, mostly residential block on which you'd likely never find yourself strolling unless you were staying in one of the rooms upstairs. Or, I guess, at the Four Points hotel across the street. Or at one of three other newish hotels within a quarter mile of here, because clearly nondescript residential blocks in Queens are the happening tourist spots these days.
The only other reason for non-locals (or out-of-town visitors) to wind up on this stretch of 27th Street? The promise of the perfect pizza. Specifically, pizza from Lou Tomczak, who after firing pies for a time at the great Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint, helped launch the equally great Emmy Squared in Williamsburg. Hence all the hype that hit in early April about this place.
And once you get off the dead, charmless street, and through the generically hip "boutique" lobby, the dining room at Beebe's is warm and appealing, the long, light-filled room anchored by a trendy-looking bar at one end and Tomczak's big, red, gas-fueled oven at the other. The seating is mod and comfortable, the clientele mostly guests of the hotel, the staff all happy to see you.
After helping to bring Detroit-style rectangles into Brooklyn with Emmy Squared, Tomczak is back to slinging round pies at Beebe's, generously-sauced and -topped 12-inchers with a thin, moderately charred, impressively airy crust. I ate a pair of pies during two visits this past month and, given Tomczak's history of packing his pizza with bold flavors, they were both surprisingly toothless.
The Hot Italian, especially, lacked bite. Despite the inclusion of "hot" Italian sausage, pickled chili, pepperoni, and Mike's hot honey, this riff on such hall-of-fame pies as Emily's Colony and Roberta's Bee Sting failed to really register. It was fine, but in no way worth the train ride. The Stracciatella pie had a bit more impact, though the milky cheese was very milky—your plate will have a puddle—and is served disconcertingly cool. Also: why bother listing "black pepper" as one of your ingredients if you're not going to bother breaking out the grinder? Tough to tell if Tomczak is being intentionally timid for the tourist trade here, but if he is, I wish he wasn't.
Though Tomczak isn't overseeing the non-pizza items at Beebe's—that'd be chef George Mandakas—the same fear-of-flavor afflicts the restaurant's wings. Technically, these bird bits are solid—fat, crisp, tender, the tangy gorgonzola a nice touch—but where's all that calabrian chili they promised? The good news, if you do find yourself at the Boro (after, I don't know, a party at Flux Factory?), is that the Beebe's Burger is fantastic, a thick, juicy, double-patty beauty with a deftly-balanced supporting cast of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, special sauce. The accompanying fries are alright, a bit soggier than I prefer.
If you're staying at the Boro Hotel, and weary from wandering through this great big city of ours, Beebe's will likely hit the spot. NYC pizza fans need not make a pilgrimage however.
Beebe's is located within the Boro Hotel at 38-28 27th Street, between 38th and 39th Avenues in Long Island City, and is open all day for breakfast (in the café), lunch, and dinner (718-778-0074; beebesnyc.com)