Jan. 29, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A casual eatery focusing on pizza and typical cafe fare has recently opened its doors on 82nd Street in Jackson Heights, taking over the space once occupied by a Mediterranean restaurant.
J&J’s Pizzeria Cafe/Bar, located at 40-13 82nd St., held its grand opening on Jan. 23, and offers, so far, a menu of pizzas, breakfast platters and sandwiches, and classic lunch staples, with plans for a salad bar and even an Ecuadorian food menu down the line.
The restaurant serves a varieties of pies, including pepperoni, Hawaiian, buffalo chicken, vegetable, and chorizo and jalapeño. Breakfast sandwiches like bacon egg and cheese on a bagel—the most popular item on the menu so far—are also available.
For lunch, diners can pick from burgers, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, wraps and more.
The 33-seat restaurant is owned by Julio Auquilla, a Long Island resident and immigrant of Ecuador with 25 years in the restaurant industry, according to his son, Justin.
Justin, who works at the restaurant and studies culinary arts at Suffolk Community College, said he eventually plans to fully run the new business.
“He wanted to [buy] it for me and him,” Justin said of his father’s plans. “I’m going to be working here almost every day, even when I’m at school.”
Julio, who plans on obtaining a liquor license for the locale, also owns other businesses in the area, including Momentos and El Cuencanito in Corona.
The new restaurant takes over the space formerly occupied by Zaytoun, which offered Arabic and Mediterranean foods until closing in December after only seven months in business.
The space had been one of several locations that formed part an ongoing public art project in the neighborhood, where Chemin Hsiao, a local artist, was tasked with painting a mural over the restaurant’s rolling gates late last year.
The new restaurant owners plan on keeping the mural in place, with the 82nd Street Partnership, which helped organize the public art effort, noting that Hsiao is still set to finish a related mural inside the space by the end of March.
“The new owners were extremely supportive, allowing Chemin to continue his work,” said Leslie Ramos, executive director of the partnership. She added: “We are looking forward to [the restaurant] attracting new patrons to the area.”