(By Christine Nguyen)
Living in the Bronx, I don’t make my way out to Queens that often; but when I do, I’m always on the lookout for authentic home cooking. Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille located at 6914 Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside, really hits the mark. The restaurant serves genuine Filipino cuisine from the Kapampangan region. Creating quality Filipino flavor is something Renee’s Kitchen prides itself on preserving.
The business began with Ernesto Dizon Renee’s parents, who owned a restaurant back in the Filipino province of Pampanga. They are well-renowned for their food. Renee chose to bring his young family over to America because he wanted something better for his children, Erwin, Emma, Eric, and Earl. Today the whole family is somehow involved with the family business. Currently Renee’s sons Erwin and Eric are working on a catering business for the restaurant.
Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille has to come a long way since its humble beginnings. At the original location, although lines would run down the block, the building only had room for three tables. There was also no griller so meat had to be cooked at home and then brought over. The family finally moved their business and even opened a second floor for parties and buffets. Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille as we now know it opened up in the early 90’s and has continued to grow.
Today, Renee’s Kitchenette has established itself as the oldest restaurant in the neighborhood, and as a comfy place to grab some nice warm Filipino soul food. The restaurant also has gained a lot of attention from tourists from other boroughs. Renee’s is well known for its chicken adobo and for their more adventurous kare-kare, a Filipino dish consisting of ox tail, tripe and peanut sauce. There are also some creative new additions to the menu like the banana pudding created by Renee’s daughter Emma. The sweet banana custard is played off well with delicious crumbled up cookies. For those who desire some more authentic treats, try the halo halo, which is very delicious.
Other than the great food, coming in and experiencing the warm atmosphere at Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille makes a trip to Queens well worth it. I experienced the family’s welcoming spirit first hand. During my trip, a Spanish street performer came in and played on his guitar for customers. I asked the owner if he often came and she said no, this was the first time. She didn’t even bat an eyelash. I can name few Manhattan restaurants that would be that welcoming.
While sitting in the restaurant, there are a lot of details that indicate just how much pride Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille still has for its roots back in the Philippines. There was also a lot of room to show that the family has a made a home for themselves right here in New York.
For Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike, Renee’s Kitchenette & Grille is a welcome home.