By Robert Intelisano
In Long Island City on the westernmost tip of Queens, is a hidden gem called Beebe’s Pizza. If you didn’t know it, you would walk or drive right by the trendy Boro Hotel where Beebe’s is situated in the lobby of the building at 38-28 27th street in Long Island City.
With a population of 57,000, Long Island City is a redeveloped industrial area nestled along the east river of Manhattan. The area is known for its high-rise buildings with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, art galleries, museums, performance spaces, and cultural diversity.
This up-and-coming neighborhood is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in New York City. Long Island City is part of the Queens Community Board District 1, which also includes Astoria, Astoria Heights, Queensbridge, Dutch Kills, Ravenswood, and Steinway.
Beebe’s opened their doors on March 2nd, 2018, inside the new Boro Hotel. At the time, the closest train station was known as 39th Avenue-Beebe Avenue on the N and W line, just two stops from Manhattan. In 2019, the station was closed for renovations and when it reopened, due to pressure from the Dutch Kills Civic Association, was renamed 39th Avenue-Dutch Kills to “better represent the neighborhood’s history” said an MTA spokesman at the time.
Dutch Kills, when founded in 1642, was a swampy area with several farms and a mill. The Dutch Kills farms supplied produce to the New York markets and the water-powered grist mills ground grains in the area now known as the Sunnyside Rail Yards.
In 1901, construction commenced on the Queensboro Bridge, which would connect Manhattan with Queens. The bridge–known by many as the 59th Street Bridge, because of its location between 59th and 60th streets in Manhattan–was renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in 2011.
The city tore down many of the Dutch Kills buildings creating open spaces around the new bridge forming Queens Plaza; hence, Long Island City was born.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, local manufacturing had declined greatly. Most of the industries and factories were transformed into studios, which encouraged artists to flock to LIC to rent economical and creative studio space in the former industrial buildings. In 2001, the area was identified as a “growth area” by the city and was rezoned to foster residential and commercial development. Long Island City has been growing and thriving ever since.
I arrived 30 minutes early, before our scheduled 6 p.m. dinner reservation for six. The plan was to try between 3-4 different pies and a few appetizers. I also wanted to check out the breathtaking Manhattan Skyline view from the hotel rooftop.
The Boro Hotel has 13 floors and then the rooftop. It is one of the few Queens buildings that has a designated 13th floor. I met a couple on the elevator who were staying at the hotel, and they had no idea there was a restaurant in the lobby.
Walking into Beebe’s, I was greeted by Marshall. I was immediately drawn to the attractive tomato-red-colored oven. As I sat down at the closest table to the oven, Beebe’s Manager, Nick Spanos, greeted me and we struck up a conversation before my “foodie” group arrived. I hadn’t told Beebe’s I was doing a pizza review for This is QueensBorough Magazine beforehand, so Nick was pleasantly surprised.
Nick asked how I had heard about Beebe’s, which was a story unto itself. Sophia Xanthopoulos, a classmate, friend from Beach Channel High School, and loyal pizza column reader, had been telling me about this place for years and urging me to go. Ironically, that day was her birthday. I mentioned it to Nick, and it turns out they knew each other–the Greek Connection!
We started the experience with the Kale Caesar salad and meatball appetizers, which were both solid. Then came what we were waiting for, the pies, which were served two at a time. I chose the Margherita and the Louie “New York Style” pies first, a warmup for our taste buds. I waited to eat until everyone else had a slice to see their reactions and big smiles erupt across their faces.
Next up, we ordered the “Roni” pie, which consisted of tomato, mozzarella, and pepperoni. For the grand finale, out came the “Hot Italian,” arguably their most popular pie. This unique pie has tomato, mozzarella, pickled chili, hot sausage, pepperoni, and Mike’s hot honey.
At most pizzerias when the pie comes out, it is not evenly cooked. If you order a pie, usually 2-3 slices are charred with heat bubbles (which I prefer) and the other side of the pie is less cooked, even if you ordered a well-done pie. If you have a family with different preferences, this is ideal. If you are looking for the consistency of an evenly cooked pie, this is not good.
A pizzeria is only as good as the quality of its ingredients and oven. Beebe’s features a 3,200-pound gas oven imported from Modena, Italy, home of Lamborghini. At 519 degrees, pies can be ready as quickly as three-and-a-half minutes, depending on how many pies are being cooked concurrently. What is unique about this gas oven, to obtain consistency, is that it can automatically rotate the pies. Their cheese comes directly from an Ohio farm, so literally, farm-to-table.
One of the many things I liked about Beebe’s is that they allow you to customize your pie, should you prefer different combinations than on their menu. This is a fun place. One of the foodies in our group was Adrian Miller, who owns a sales training firm. She liked it so much that she was back there two nights later with her husband. Give Beebe’s a try, you will thank me later.