Restaurant Review

Gaby's Pizza, Now That's Italian
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Gaby’s Pizza: 204-23 Hillside Ave., Queens Village, 740-9716

Cuisine: Italian

Open: Everyday

Gaby’s Pizza: both the name of the eatery and the pizza itself have become legendary in the Southeast Queens community.

You cannot go into Fran Hill Mall on the corner of Hillside and Francis Lewis without stopping in for "a slice." It’s just one on those things. In the nearly 30 years since its existence, the pizzeria has been a favorite stop for moms on the way home from work on Friday evenings. It has fed many a birthday party and many a sports celebration in the surrounding Queens communities.

But pizza is not its only specialty. The menu boasts some 100 mouth-watering items. Entrees such as spaghetti or ziti with tomato sauce ($5.50), spaghetti or ziti with sausages, or mushroom (7.00), veal parmigiana (7.25), baked lasagna (6.75) chicken, veal and shrimp combo with spaghetti (11.75) and an array of hero sandwiches.

Pizza runs the gamut from a plain cheese pie (8.25 for a medium and 10.50 for a large) to the exotic clam or shrimp pies (12.50). There is also an extensive catering menu ranging in price from $32 to 65 depending on party size.

On my recent visit I ordered spaghetti with tomato sauce. Served piping hot with a warm loaf of Italian bread and butter packets, it was just what I needed. The sauce was the right consistency and flavor and the spaghetti perfectly al dente – as the kids say: It was slammin’!

I couldn’t resist the aroma of the pizza of the diner sitting at the next table so I ordered a slice and had a few bites. There is something special about the pizza at Gaby’s that is a little different from most. Perhaps it’s the fact that their pies are baked on wire meshes on the oven floor; but according to co-owner, "Jerry," it’s a simpler reason.

"We use only the highest quality ingredients," he explained. "We don’t skimp, we’d rather spend a little more and get better ingredients. Plus we make everything fresh from scratch every day," he said.

Established in 1964, Gaby’s (named for co-owner;’ wife) the pizzeria has always been comfortable spot for a quick bite. Designed with wood panels varnished to a high gloss and interspersed with strips of mirrors and ceiling "lanterns," diners can either chow down at linen-covered tables or have their orders to go.

But Gaby’s doesn’t just take the money and go every night. Their altruistic streak is evidenced in the kiddy-made photo collages of various summer programs or sports teams thanking Gaby’s for one sponsorship or another. "I like helping kids," said Jerry, modestly.

The feeling is mutual.

There are autographed photos of local kids grown into regional celebrities, such as "Howard the DJ" who wrote, "I’ve been eating here since I was eight and you’ve never made me sick."

For my money, Gaby’s is the best local place for delicious, affordable Italian fare.

— Marcia Moxam Comrie

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