"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Mr. Dickens new what he was talking about! But for this post, we'll concentrate on the good. Just cause that's how we roll.
So here are the top 5 Astorian bits from the 3 of us:
Opening of Vesta. This new trattoria in western Astoria blew me away with great food and atmosphere, and dedication by the owners and operators to make my stay truly enjoyable. Plus they are doing 80's night for their New Years feast!
Little Soap Shop. This independently-owned boutique sells soaps, lotions, and candles that are all natural and non toxic. Plus, they smell great!
A good latte at Chocolate Spoon. I was pleased to find a place that made a good latte - strong, but not bitter with creamy foamy milk on top. Nice people, too.
The Tap Project. "A campaign that recognizes clean and available tap water in our communities and helps UNICEF distribute clean water to children around the globe." A number of Astoria restaurants participated.
The proposed sale of 21.29 acres of Con Ed property to buyer/developer Steel Equities for a FedEx ground facility DEFEATED. I was pleased with this result.
There are so many wonderful places that I enjoy visiting in Astoria. From delicious eateries to quaint boutiques and relaxing spas, I never have to travel far to get what I need.
1. Ovelia's Brunch - This is by far my favorite venue for brunch, especially in the summer when it's nice and open for you to enjoy the sunshine. The vibe is social and loud--they play dance music and the clientele is young and hip. Some of my favorite brunch dishes include Yia-Yia's omelette, eggs benedict and the tiropita toast. And the best part is that brunch will only set you back $10-$13, including coffee and a morning cocktail. 34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.7217.
2. Bistro 33 - An intimate eatery, it's won over my heart--and my stomach--over the past year. From amazing classic dishes such as braised lamb to inventive Asian cuisine such as crawfish tempura, Bistro has never disappointed and always over-delivered. It's a fabulous brunch option too and I recommend trying the blueberry silver dollar pancakes. Bistro has become quite the show-stopper this year, rated as a favorite by Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon and also a taping location of ABC's Ugly Betty. 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.721.1933
3. Artopolis Bakery - Although hidden in Agora Plaza shopping center on 31st Street near 23rd Avenue, this treasure won't stay a secret for long. It boasts some of the most delicious bread that I've ever tasted--especially their herb flat bread. They specialize in Greek pastries and make some of the flakiest baklava in town. They've also been featured on Al Roker's "Roker on the Road." 23-18 31st Street, Astoria. 718.728.8484
4. Spa Hydra - My favorite place to unwind, I've gotten some of the best massages here. Their facilities are nicer than some of the top spas in Manhattan--and the prices are a bit gentler too. 35-11 36th Street, Astoria. 718.267.7991
5. Esculon Jewelry - I've been hooked on Alexandra Mihaescu's funky jewelry designs. She makes contemporary fashion jewelry at reasonable prices. My most recent purchase, the Golden Dotty Earrings have become a huge hit with all of my friends--so much so that I've purchased 3 more pairs for some of my closest buds. The compliments on these babies just keep pouring in!
• Cafe Soleil ... didn't start off great for me, but has really come into its own. I see it as a bit of an underdog, but think they have great potential to become a go to spot in the area.Have a safe happy and prosperous new year friends, and see you back here in 2009
• Comedy came to Astoria, laughs were had and good times aplenty!
(Mezzo Comedy Club and Comedyland at the Beer Garden)
• The return of Mano's Papaya! Oh how your cheap tubular treats and fruitie drink concoctions were missed.
• All the filming bringing celebrity watching to the hood.
• The first ever Astorian Beer-lympic's. I mean, come on- what isn't there to love about THAT???