To be a standout Greek restaurant in Astoria takes an extensive menu of authentic dishes, a super friendly and homey atmosphere and reasonable prices. Telly's Taverna on 23rd Avenue has all three and is by far my new favorite local place for some mezés and seafood!
|So authentic, half the menu is in Greek!|
I was invited to come dine with a friend last week and it's definitely a good thing I had a light lunch that day. Dianna, the owner, selected several small plates for us to start with and we also split a refreshing bottle of white wine (Boutari Moschofilero $32). First we had fresh made pita, nice and thick like I like it with an assortment of dips ($14) including Taramosalata (fish roe), tzatzki (yogurt and cucumber), Skordalia (garlic and potato). We also had a super fresh salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese ($9) and a finely chopped Nana's Green Salad ($9).
Next we had the traditional fried Kefalograviera cheese dish Saganaki ($11) which is good if you like fried cheese, but was probably what I enjoyed least of the entire meal (don't worry, there's much much more to come!)
Telly's has a number of grilled and fried veggies, but the fried eggplant and zucchini ($8 each) were standouts. You can tell they use quality vegetables as you can still taste the flavors underneath the light breading and there is minimal oil left over.
|Fried Eggpland and Zucchini|
For our main courses (like we hadn't already stuffed ourselves!), we went with both the most authentic Greek item on the menu--Barbounia ($19)--and the most popular fish--Branzini (market price). We were warned that the barbounia, also known as red mullet, were very bony and boy were they. You have to be a very meticulous eater who doesn't mind sifting through a maze of sharp pointy bones to get your food to enjoy this dish. The flavor was very interesting, different from any other fish I've had before, and I relished the new experience. The branzini was fairly standard as to what I've had at other Greek and Italian restaurants. Telly's serves it's fish with a bottle of lemon juice and olive oil mixture on the side and it was amazing with the fish. For sides, we had the beets ($7), hora (a Greek green vegetable, $6), and Greek style fried potatoes ($6).
|So much food!|
Dessert wasn't even an option; OF COURSE we were getting something. At Telly's everyone ends their meal with an order of Loukoumades for free (except for Saturdays). These are essentially donut holes served with honey and cinnamon, but better than any you would get at Dunkin Donuts that's for sure. We also sampled the Greek yogurt with preserves ($6)--think of Chobani plus all of that glorious creaminess they take out (also known as full fat) and you have a glorious, gluttonous plate of yummy.
|Greek yogurt and preserves (we liked it so much that I almost forgot to snap a photo)|