Showing posts with label Astoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Astoria. Show all posts


Come for the Calamari, Stay for the Panna Cotta

The name of one of Astoria's newer Italian joints, Via Vai, is quite fitting. Meaning "coming and going" in Italian, the phrase perfectly describes the nature of most of us New Yorkers, but--as we well know--us busy people always have the time to sit down for a nice meal.

Photo credit:

My boyfriend and I were invited for dinner a few weeks ago before laughing out loud to Larry David in his Broadway debut in Fish in the Dark (highly recommend!). The space is great, and conveniently located near the Ditmars N/Q stop. I especially loved the white subway tile, the glamorous Faema espresso machine, and the Italian-designed Pavesi brick pizza oven which sits as the centerpiece of the restaurant.

We started with the fried calamari served with fried artichokes and citrus zest ($13). This was a large portion for an appetizer, and properly served with a half lemon in mesh wrap for drizzling. The fried artichokes were a nice touch since I love artichokes but hardly ever eat them.

Fried calamari

Next up were the polpette, or beef meatballs with tomato sauce ($10). Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. The standout of this dish was the tomato sauce: tangy, not too sweet, and meshed well with the slightly rich classic ricotta-based meatball.


The special pasta for the night was beet gnocchi with parmesan fondue, porcini sauce, and toasted hazelnuts. This was a very interesting dish and the colors made it quite beautiful. A bit rich for my taste, but delicious nonetheless.

Beet gnocchi
For a secondi, we tried the maiale, a pork filet tenderloin with prosciutto and sage saltimbocca, white truffle mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus ($22). The meat in this dish reminded me of breakfast a bit, likely because of the spices used. The asparagus were great (I was craving veggies!), but the mashed potatoes left something to be desired (I think someone forgot the cream or butter or something).

The standout of the meal was dessert, which we unfortunately had to rush through (so no espresso :( ) in order to make it to our show on time. We tried both the panna cotta with caramel sauce and the tiramisu (served in a martini glass!)--both $8. The panna cotta was super creamy and both desserts were as traditional as they come. I felt transported back to Rome. If anything, go to Via Vai just for the dessert!

Overall the meal was good and the ambiance pretty great. If I was to return, as mentioned, it might just be for the dessert and to try something made by that goddess of an espresso machine. The pizzas looked pretty incredible as well. Even though it's Astoria, you can never have too many Italian restaurants!

Via Vai on Urbanspoon

Note: We were comped a meal for two in exchange for this review, but all opinions are our own.


Where Drinking and Sword Fighting Go Together

Well, not quite sword fighting.

Stand back everyone, because you are about to learn how to impress all your friends with a new party trick. Champagne sabering is an age-old tradition of opening a bottle of bubbly with one fell swoop. For $50, the folks at LIC bar The Baroness will teach you all you need to know about wielding the sword and you get to drink the Champagne. Or, you know, you could share it with a friend.

The swashbuckler in me is super intrigued, so I'll keep you posted if I decide to take the slice, but if anyone beats me to it, please comment how it went!


Welcoming Astoria's Newest Flea

The Astoria Flea and Food Market opens today at Kaufman Astoria Studios from 10am-6pm! Affiliated with the well known (and Awesome in New York approved!) LIC Flea, this aggregation of artisanal soda syrup makers, vintage jewelry purveyors, and samosa fry-ers (just to name a few) is sure to please.

The market will be held every Sunday for 8 weeks on the recently enclosed Kaufman Astoria Studios back-lot. Check it out and report back your favorite finds!


AWESOME DEAL: $35 Dinner for 2 at Bear

If you're looking for an amazing dinner at an amazing price tonight, look no further than Bear in Astoria. In celebration of the blog We Heart Astoria's 4th anniversary, the sibling run restaurant is offering a special deal on dinner for two for $35, including 1 appetizer, 2 entrees and 1 dessert.

This offer is available to the first 20 people who print out this flyer and bring it in before May 22. Bear is cash only and offers wines by the bottle starting at $20 (talk about an affordable night out!).


Beer & Bites Times Two

Tomorrow, 3/25, is a big day for beer pairing dinners at two fantabulous venues with menus and prices so amazing we just had to share:

The Bell's Brewery Beer Dinner
Snowdonia - 34-55 32nd St, Astoria

For only $45 you will receive a 3-course meal featuring oxtail lasagna...Mmmmmmmm!...with each course paired with a beer from the Midwestern brewery. Snowdonia is an awesome new gastropub that opened recently in my neighborhood, but just because it's in Astoria doesn't mean they don't totally know what they are doing. This is an excellent opportunity to break out of your comfort zone and try something new! Seatings are at 7 and 9:30 and can be reserved with a $15 nonrefundable deposit.

David Burke at Bloomingdales - 1000 Third Avenue at 59th Street

The iconic department store restaurant has joined forces with the classic New England brewery to offer a 4-course meal in conjunction with the Art of Shaving. Roasted duck and a chocolate panna cotta martini are on the $65 menu, with each course paired with an all-American brew. This is sure to be a culinary treat.


AWESOME ALERT: $35 All You Can Eat and Drink Party Celebrating Astoria

One of my favorite local blogs, WeHeartAstoria, conducts a best of Astoria survey every year (a real resource for me my first year living in Queens!). This year, they are throwing a party to celebrate the results!

At $35 a head, this all-you-can-eat AND all-you-can-drink deal at The Strand Smokehouse is one of the best deals I've seen all year. Also, the first 100 people will receive Astoria-themed gift bags! This is all going down from 6-9pm on Thursday 3/27. Click here to purchase tickets. I'm sure they'll sell out!


Drinking in the Holiday Spirit

A couple weeks ago (on the 80th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition to be exact) I attended the Village Voice Holiday Spirits Tasting Event at Studio Square in Queens. I was really excited about this event because it was close by my apartment and my blogger friend Laura was also going with her boyfriend.

Entrance at Studio Square

I've learned the hard way that you have to pace yourself at drinking events, hence my strategy was really just taking sips of drinks from various stations and not downing entire cocktails. Favorites included:
  • Rough Rider Old Fashioned served with a cherry and rock candy (Who am I kidding? I was just obsessed with the rock candy!)
Rough Rider Old Fashioned

  • Dutch's Spirits' 'Fat Apple' with mulled cider with moonshine and melted cinnamon brown sugar (I'm not going to post the picture because it actually looks somewhat disgusting)
  • Barefoot Bubbly in citrus fusion
Barefoot Bubbly
  • Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur Eggnog
Barrow's Eggnog

  • Brotherhood Winery's Holiday Spiced Wine which they served warm (side note: my boyfriend and I recently visited this winery, supposedly America's oldest, and fell in love with their Cabernet Sauvignon. You can take tours there too.)

The Go To (who doesn't love a Laura photobomb?)

  • Ole' Smokey Moonshine's "Southern Hooch," which was recommended to me by Laura and was really delicious. I may have imbibed the entire drink this time -- apple pie moonshine and sweet tea!

The venue was great and the live music was a nice addition. The food, however, was lacking. I got a short peek at the sliders that were coming out of the kitchen, but hoards of eventgoers seemed to maul the waiters before they even had the chance to leave the kitchen. Hence, I was very glad that I ate before the event. Whole Foods was smart though in that they were serving a root liqueur poached pear sundae, yum!

Whole Foods' Root Liqueur Poached Pear Sundae

Overall, we had a great time and thankfully only had to stumble home a few blocks before tucking in for the night. Gotta love a good Village Voice event!



Food So Good, You'll Shout Opa!

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 mez├ęs 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).

First appetizers

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!)

If you ever go to Telly's you MUST order the grilled octopus ($14.75). It was cooked to perfection and with a little lemon and seasoning was one of the most delicious, simple dishes I have ever had. I could have finished the entire plate for dinner and been happy. The lima beans baked in tomato sauce ($10)are another must order. Having never really experienced lima beans, I now know to give them a lot more credit in the future.

Grilled Octopus

Lima Beans

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)
I would definitely like to come back to try something on the Char-Broiled section of the menu; people on Yelp seem to love the lamb chops. You don't eat meat?! That's ok. I make lamb. Something else I love about Telly's is that they make everything to order and that encourages a long, leisurely meal. So grab a pal and your empty stomach, head to Telly's and come back and tell us how you liked it :)

Telly's Taverna on Urbanspoon
Telly's Taverna on Foodio54


French Toast Haiku

Stuffed with strawberries. 
Touch of mascarpone. Melts.
Ooey gooey yum.

Try for yourself at Astor Bake Shop in Astoria.


It's Boro Time

Move over Time Out New York, there's a new 'zine in Astoria-town. Launched late last year, BORO Magazine is a free publication dedicated to providing the latest news and happenings in our favorite part of Queens (because you know, there's more to Astoria than just the beer garden after all).

Filled with restaurant reviews, stories about interesting Astorians and interviews with small business owners, the magazine also provides great resources for those both new and veteran to the area including a map listing all stores and restaurants mentioned in the issue, great promotions and coupons (I found one for a free yoga class and one for a free glass of wine in the February issue!) and updates on upcoming events. Small enough to fit in your pocket and concise enough to flip through in one subway ride, BORO is a spunky little publication with a lot of heart (and I have to throw a plug in there for my friend Rebecca who is an amazing staff writer!).

Hurry over to BORO's website before the end of the month to enter their pick-up line contest. Leave your best pick-up line in the comments of this post and you'll be entered to win $100 to a bar in Astoria. I submitted "If you were a booger I’d pick you first." Can you beat that?