Despite its proximity to the ocean, Queens does not have that many outstanding seafood eateries. I discovered one of the best this week with a visit to Marbella Restaurant in Bayside.
The 40-year-old dining establishment is located at 220-33 Northern Blvd. on the first floor of a hotel. The owner, Servando Cid, has run the restaurant for 35 years and is a charming host with a welcoming staff that will meet your every needs.
Cid says faithful customers and word of mouth have kept the restaurant flourishing.
We started out with a selection of appetizers. The clams in a garlic green sauce were divine. The crusty bread served with every meal was perfect for lopping up the flavorful sauce.
Sauteed calamari with a tangy marinara sauce were cooked perfectly and the potato croquettes, with a hint of seafood flavor, were the best we’ve ever had and seemed to melt in your mouth.
Next time, we’ll try the garlic soup, one of Marbella’s specialties.
We next sampled the filet of sole sauteed with banana strips. It is the best filet of sole I’ve ever had. The dish is cooked in banana liqueur and is sweet without being cloying. I would return to Marbella just for this entree alone.
Cid, who hails from Galicia, Spain, boasts about his chef, Esteban Barroso and it’s hard to dispute his talents. “This is the best place for paella because Esteban is the only Spanish chef in New York from Spain,” Cid said. “He loves the kitchen and I guarantee his paella is the best.”
Paella is the traditional Spanish dish of rice cooked with seafood, chicken and sausage in a seafood broth with tomatoes and saffron. You can also have it with a lobster tail at Marbella.
Cid said the secret to Barroso’s excellent paella is that he uses raw rice instead of a partially pre-cooked version. We could not dispute the flavor, which was excellent. It’s a large dish that serves two or more.
We had to save room for dessert and were not disappointed with the restaurant’s signature crepes served with ice cream. The dish is flambeed at the table and makes for a spectacular end to the meal.
If seafood is not your desire, Marbella has some wonderful chicken, steak and lamb dishes and even a few Italian specialties. On the weekend there are specials plus music by a harpist.
Restaurant hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight. Lunch and dinner are served.
Marbella also offers a private room for catered events seating 80 people and a ballroom for larger events. For additional information or reservations, call (718) 423-0100 or log onto marbella-restaurant.com.