Queen Restaurant, a Downtown Brooklyn legend
July 2, 2016
The drive to carry out a family’s legacy has turned Queen Italian restaurant into a Downtown Brooklyn legend, too. Second-generation Queen chefs Vincent and Pasquino Vitiello uphold their father’s legacy by preserving an Italian family-style neighborhood restaurant with top quality food while putting family and community values first. During its 58 years in the neighborhood, Queen has grown a fanbase of loyal friends near and far.
The first manifestation of Queen was a small sandwich and pizza shop located where Barnes & Noble currently stands on Court Street. For the past 26 years, those loyal fans have been chowing down at its current spot at 84 Court Street, where it has become part of the fabric of our neighborhood…and you never know which celebrity you might spot dining here, either.
We chatted with Co-Chef and Owner Vincent about a few of his favorite things to eat, see and do around Downtown Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite building in Downtown Brooklyn?
That would have to be the ‘wedding cake building’ at 75 Livingston St. It’s an older, Art Deco building that’s an icon down here because at the time, it was the highest tower down here for many, many years.
What memories of the neighborhood can you share from back in the day?
In this neighborhood, I remember when I was a kid I had to get stitches out but I didn’t want to go. I was playing baseball, and my dad was saying we have to go. I refused, until he said, ‘I’ll take you to the restaurant afterwards,’ which motivated me.It was always a playground for me to get to come here before opening times, I ran up and down the aisles and ate what I could convince my parents to share. It was really exciting, every time!
Other than your own, do you have a favorite restaurant or bar in the area?
It’s a little outside our neighborhood, but still in Brooklyn! One of my favorite restaurants is the River Café. It’s a beautiful spot down by the river on a barge. It’s really cute and charming. But there’s so many great places down here, it’s hard to keep up.
Do you have a favorite or go-to shop here?
As a restaurant owner, I love the Middle Eastern spice shop called Sahadi’s. It has everything - all the rural spices and herbs, nuts, berries, figs.It’s also a family-owned business, and the family has been well known for many years. Everyone should go there.
If a patron from out of town wanted to know how to spend a day in the neighborhood, what would you recommend they do?
I would recommend, first and foremost, that people should explore the neighborhood! Things are always changing and it’s exciting to see what’s happening. I’d make sure to visit the Promenade, watch the birds fly. From there, I’d walk through the neighborhoods up and down Montague, Atlantic Ave and back to Downtown Brooklyn to check out the shops here.
Downtown Brooklyn Insider Tip:
If you’re down at the Promenade, you’re at the perfect starting spot for the Historic Downtown Brooklyn Walking Tour.