New Gourmet Store Brings $75/lb. Ham to Forest Hills, Owner Says

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on April 9, 2013 6:54am 

QUEENS — It's something to squeal about.

A new gourmet shop that recently opened on Austin Street is hoping to attract customers with its massive selection of beers, cheeses and meats, including a Spanish ham that sells for $75 a pound, the owner said.

Mr. Vino’s Cucina, which opened in Forest Hills last Thursday, after several setbacks, is hoping to offer products that are hard to get in the neighborhood.

“Many things that we have you will not find in Queens, you will only find them in the city,” the owner, Nicholas Protopapas, said. 

Among the most unique items, Protopapas said, are Spanish hams provided by Jackson Heights-based Despana. The selection includes Serrano ham and the Jamón, which costs $75 a pound, Protopapas said.

It takes a minimum of two years to cure.

“We’ve already had a couple of people who purchased it,” he said.

Iberico hams first burst onto the culinary scene in the city a couple of years ago and can run up to $1,400 for bone-in meat, according to a published report.

The most expensive kind, Iberico Bellota, comes from pigs fed only acorns ("bellotas") for their last 3-4 months, yielding sweet meat. Despana's classes to learn how to carve the delicacy run $400.

The store’s huge beer selection has also been attracting many suds lovers, Protopapas said.

“We have over 120 different types of craft beer, including microbrews,” he said.

The selection ranges from Mythos, a Greek lager, for $1.99 a bottle, to Wild Rye Ale from Bruery Sour in The Rye ($24.49 for 25 oz.).

The offerings also include 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA for $2.39 a can, Rogue Dead Guy, a German-style maibock for $2.79, a few Trappist beers from Belgium and rare smokebeers, made from smoked malted barley, from Bamberg in Bavaria in Germany for $5.29 a bottle.

There will also be lots of seasonal beers, the owner said.

The store offers about 100 different varieties of cheese, Protopapas added, from Comte, to St. Andre and goat Gouda. 

 Mr. Vino's Cucina that recently opened on Austin Street is hoping to attract customers with its massive selection of beers, cheeses, and meats.
Mr. Vino's Cucina that recently opened on Austin Street is hoping to attract customers with its massive selection of beers, cheeses, and meats.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

“We make our mozzarella and bocconcinis here every morning,” he noted.

Mr. Vino’s Cucina also offer pâtés, olive oil from various countries, including Greece, France and Italy, imported olives, caviar, fresh salmon, jams from Stonewall Kitchen, bread from Eli Zabar and a selection of Vosges Haut chocolates.

Mary Ann Carbone, 25, a Forest Hills resident who works in marketing, came to check out the store soon after it had opened last week. 

“It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood,” she said. “I was able to get some Italian sausages that are hard to find.”

Every day, Protopapas said, the store will offer samples of various cheeses and meats.

Soon, Mr. Vino’s Cucina will also start holding wine and beer tastings.

“Every weekend we will be trying different beers and different cheeses,” said Protopapas, who also owns a wine store, Mr. Vino, in the area.

“We hope we can better the neighborhood with this store,” he said, adding that he is open to customers’ suggestions.

Ideas for new products can be left at store’s suggestion box.

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