by Alysia Stern
Harry Houdini, the Grand Master of Illusions is buried in Glendale, Queens. Less than one mile away from his grave, stands a fairly new yet consequential establishment that prides itself with good food for the everyday person. Houdini Kitchen Laboratory coined it’s name in honor of the magician. Just as Houdini introduced his own original act, the milk can escape, Houdini Kitchen Laboratory has introduced a few recipes of their own as well.
Their inviting environment takes place in a late 1800’s brewery. The brick walls, distinctive concrete floors, large glass windows, and dim lit ambience carry out the posh appearance of the antique architecture. The transformation of the large, venerable building into an eatery with a functioning space was ingenious. The turn of the century can actually be seen in the superannuated collection of obsolete delights that encompass the restaurant. Let’s not forget the physical address of the Laboratory is just as enigmatic as Houdini himself.
“Houdini (Kitchen Laboratory) has an enriched, subdued appearance, an experience of fine quality.” Their mission is to provide a service defined by quality and simplicity – where comfort is the flavor of life.
I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the owners, Max. Here is what he had to say:
Tell me about the place:
We opened a year ago. The decor follows the vision of our mission, philosophy and mission statement. We believe in good food for everyday people. In the simplicity, we focus on the quality. Less is more, even to do a little here – it takes a little more. The location is the result of an understanding after 30 years in the industry. Since 1996, I have been in New York City. I opened my first place with a few others in 1999 in Williamsburg, we saw that Brooklyn vibe that was not yet on the map. So this place follows that vision and trend, we are right in the middle.
I love the building:
This building has so much character, it took years to find something like this. We looked for about five years at least. For us it was a key importance that the place we chose would pull together everything; to find something that translates the vision of what we do. We did not just find a place and make good food, but everything had to be in line with that! This building is from the 1890’s, it was one of the only three Dutch breweries in New York. It has been through Prohibition, there is so much history here. Eighty percent of the character of this place has been here for 120 years, its original.
Are you going to add anything to the already ornate place?
What you see today is not everything. We will be adding a beer garden for next summer. We want to grow with the neighborhood. We started a year ago, and we have created a place for everyday people that don’t always want to be in the middle of the jet set.
The purpose is because we are focusing on the essentials. One day I created a sign, I put it outside and by twelve noon it was gone. I guess I am a great artist. We didn’t do a sign in the beginning. Houdini is that cozy place you just have to find. We got inspired by the magician who is buried just a few blocks away, a five to ten minute drive. We used the name for the magical aspect, we wanted to create something magical in an everyday way! There was a certain ethic in Harry Houdini that we recognized ourself. We also wanted to be a bit more fun.
Some of Houdini Kitchen Laboratory’s fun menu items include:
Salads made of arugula, grape tomatoes and apple cider tarragon vinaigrette.
Margherita Pizza served with tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Marinara Pizza served with tomato, anchovies and oregano. no cheese.
Habanera Pizza served with mozzarella, tomato sauce, habanero pepper and cured spicy pork loin.
Houdini Green Pizza served with zucchini, eggplant, shallots, escarole and goat cheese.
Guido Bk Pizza served with wine cured sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato sauce and mozzarella.
And my favorite is the Stinky Feet Pizza, which is topped with rum-aged gorgonzola, vidalia onions and raisins.
Tribecian says, “Just moved into the neighborhood and initially it seemed like a restaurant desert. I was incredibly relieved to find Houdini Pizza. The burrata and foccaccia is to die for. Will be back!”
You can find Houdini Kitchen laboratory at:
15-63 Decatur Street
Ridgewood, NY 11385
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