What Is Pizzaton???

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Queens food ambassador Jeff Orlick leading a midnight street food tour.

Last week I went on a Midnight Food Crawl down Roosevelt Ave in Queens with local food ambassador Jeff Orlick. We hit a bunch of food carts, trucks, booths and even a couple semi-legal shopping cart vendors. This isn’t the Manhattan food cart scene, so we’re not talking about grilled cheese and Korean tacos and wood-fired pizza and funky ice cream — these are traditional dishes made by immigrant families just trying to make ends meet. Jeff translates the cuisine to people like me who need a nudge before going off my personal culinary map.

One stop we made was a new Dominican truck and one menu item really stuck out — PIZZATON. It starts with “pizza,” so how bad could it be? This wasn’t my top dish of the night but it ended up being one of the group’s favorites.

I’ll let Jeff explain:

"That pizzaton had a smashed green plantain shell, with tomato sauce, cheese (not sure what kind), shrimp [or] chicken, and I believe it had peppers in it too (don’t have a close enough photo). Plantains are something that’s sometimes used instead of bread, like on the patacon, which is basically a sandwich but with plantains instead of the bread (it’s the banana version of a chimichurri)."

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The menu. Pizzaton is item 5-6.

It was pretty tasty, but more a bunch of stuff with cheese melted on top than anything. This truck claims to have invented the dish and I have a feeling they’re not making that up. Keep your eyes peeled for more PIZZATON at your local Dominican food purveyor.

And check out Jeff’s awesome food tours in Queens. I promise this is not a paid endorsement, I just really enjoyed the tour!

Pizza Ice Cream? Pizza Ice Cream!

July is National Ice Cream Month and I celebrated big time last week with a visit to Max & Mina’s in Queens. Pizza is my first love, but ice cream is a close second. Imagine my surprise when the two merged right before my eyes. There it was on the flavor board: Pizza ice cream.

I know the flavor list looks pretty wacky, but that’s just how they roll at Max & Mina’s. With a rotation of roughly 5,000 flavors, this tiny ice cream shop is definitely the place to go if you want to break out of your flavor box. As a chocolate devotee I rarely stray from the basics, but every one of the dozen flavors I tried was delicious. Even with all the options on the board (no, I didn’t try Crying Baby) I knew it was my destiny to go with Pizza. The only thing I knew as I prepared to take my first bite was that I wasn’t afraid of burning the roof of my mouth.

I spoke with one of the ice cream makers, whose name also happens to be Scott, and he said Pizza is without a doubt one of their most popular flavors. It all starts with a sweet cream base blended with fresh tomato, garlic, salt and a dash of pepper. So we have our base, which is more or less mimicking cheese (sweet cream) and marinara sauce (tomato, garlic, salt, pepper). It’s interesting that this is the component that sits overnight - unlike actual pizza, which starts with an overnight dough. But we aren’t making pizza, we’re making pizza-flavored ICE CREAM! The crust component gets added the next day in the form of cookie dough. We’re really hitting the sweetness angle here, not at all a salty pizza situation.

Ice Cream Scott and I talked about some ideas that could help boost the pizzafication of ice cream, including an olive oil drizzle and parmeggiano shake. Maybe chunks of pizza crust could be used as spoons, taking the place of sweet cookie dough. What about mixing in some dried oregano and/or pepper flakes to get more of a typical New York pizza taste? Sorry, I know it’s starting to sound pretty gross but I’m thinking like a pizza fan and not an ice cream lover. These guys are ice cream people and I trust them 100%.

You can get basil- and olive oil-flavored gelato at places like Il Laboratoria del Gelato and L’Arte del Gelato, but those are just the flavors of pizza components rather than the whole enchilada. You gotto give it to Max & Mina’s for really going for it!

Max & Mina’s is definitely one of the most incredible ice cream shops I’ve ever visited. Every flavor is creamy and well developed with a true air of honesty and lacking any pretension. Even if the idea of pizza-flavored ice cream freaks you out, there’s plenty more on the flavor board. I personally loved the Blueberry Cheesecake. Just don’t be afraid to experiment - let the scooper be your guide.

Max & Mina’s
7126 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11367
718-793-8629
www.maxandminasicecream.com