Nestled in the Filipino enclave of Woodside, Queens, popular local eatery Tito Rad’s Grill is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. In a city where restaurants constantly come and go, the Filipino restaurant relies on a tasty menu packed with traditional favorites and a loyal customer base that returns again and again for the grill’s hearty take on Filipino comfort food.
Tito Rad’s Grill is the brainchild of owner and head chef Mario Albenio. Albenio grew up in the southern Philippines, learning to cook from his mother who owned a small roadside eating stand. Although he originally wanted to commune with the outdoors by training in forestry, Albenio soon found that his favorite place was in the kitchen hovering over a stove. He eventually made his way to New York City by way of Manila and opened the first incarnation of his grill in 2006 with his sister Nenette. The restaurant’s home-style Filipino cooking quickly attracted a steady customer base, and Albenio soon found himself facing long lines as people crowded in for a table. Due to his success, he was able to move into a larger space adjacent to the grill’s original location on Queens Boulevard.
The menu at Tito Rad’s Grill is packed with the flavor of the islands. In addition to tasty favorites like inihaw na panga (tuna jaw), a specialty of Albenio’s native island of Mindanao, the restaurant also offers traditional dishes like manok sa gata and beef adobo. Diners can also sample crispy pork-filled lumpia, the Filipino take on Chinese-style spring rolls. The menu also features seafood-based dishes such as pampano, tuna belly and galunggong, a delicious pan-fried mackerel scad. The grill has gained acclaim for its desserts as well, with purple ube ice cream and colorful halo halo rounding out a selection of flavorful desserts.