Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome, Mackenzi!

Today JIA is very pleased to announce that our fabulosa guest blogger, Mackenzie, will be joining the team permanently. We've enjoyed her posts about local business and the hip and happening stuff around town immensely, and look forward to much more, including her first Weekend Edition this week. Welcome, Mackenzi!

Astorian Weekend Edition 10.01.09

It's official, fall is here! Bundle up and check out some of the great events happening around town this weekend. On Sunday, head over to Autumn Fest. This locally produced event features handmade artists and designers selling things like house wares, stationery, accessories, body & beauty products, vintage items, handbags, candles, and decor! 32-33 31st street between Broadway and 34th avenue in Astoria, 11am-5pm.

Also on Sunday, check out the EAF09 Panel at Socrates Sculpture Park where the SS staff and artists will be on hand to discuss the EAF09 exhibition. Call 718. 956.1819 x 14 to register.

Also don’t miss the NY Art Book Fair- this amazing event hosts over 200 international presses, booksellers, antiquarian dealers, and independent artist/publishers presenting a diverse range of the best in contemporary art publications. Opening benefit and book preview is on Thursday, October 1st and continues throughout this weekend. P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center 22-25 Jackson Ave.

Need to do some retail therapy? Head over to KrisTees and check out all the lovely new fall clothes just in or to Loveday 31 to see the collection of new fall boots, sequined tops and of course the fabulous end of summer sale on dresses & tops and all shoes are 20% off!

In need of a cocktail? Try charming Rest-Au-Rant and try one of their delicious St. Germain based cocktails or nibble on one of their many cheese plates, all reasonably priced.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Queens Restaurant Week - Coming to an Eatery Near You

October 5th marks the start of a ten-day food extravaganza in Queens also known as Queens Restaurant Week. This year the list of participants is bigger than ever with more than 75 restaurants across Queens. Below is a list of Astoria and LIC participants along with our top picks. You can access the full list of restaurants here.

The Offering: Most restaurants are featuring a $25 prix-fixe lunch or dinner and some are even shelling out a 2-for-$25 special. Take a look at this link for more details.

Aegean Cove, 20-01 Steinway St., Astoria, 718-274-9800
Balu Café, 37-11 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-626-2258
Barril Grille, 30-18 Broadway, Astoria, 718-545-8498
Bizaare Avenue Café, 35-01 36th St., Astoria, 718-937-1234
Campagnola Cucina Italiana NEW, 36-02 35th Ave., Astoria, 718-392-8989
Cavo, 42-18 31st Ave., Astoria, 718-721-1001
Christos Steakhouse JIA PICK, 41-08 23rd Ave., Astoria, 718-777-8400
Fresh Juice Bar & Health Eatery, 38-01 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-626-3737
Gandhi Haute Cuisine of India, 34-14 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-956-7555
Las Margaritas, 38-01 Broadway, Astoria, 718-777-1707
Mezzo Mezzo, 31-29 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria, 718-278-0444
Momento Bistro, 29-35 Newtown Ave., Astoria, 718-267-2771
Ovelia Psistaria Bar JIA PICK, 34-01 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-721-7217
Pinocchio Palace (Gyro sandwich pictured above) JIA PICK, 32-02 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-932-4976
Ponticello, 46-11 Broadway, Astoria, 718-278-4514
Portobello Pizzeria Restaurant, 43-18 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria, 718-204-8766
Punta Dura JIA PICK, 41-15 34th Ave., Astoria, 718-721-2137
Seva JIA PICK 30-07 34th St., Astoria, 718-626-4440
Taverna Sophia (previously called S'Agapo) JIA PICK, 34-21 34th Ave., Astoria, 718-626-0303
Time Café, 44-18 Broadway, Astoria, 718-606-0500
Zenon Taverna JIA PICK, 34-10 31st Ave., Astoria, 718-956-0133
Zlata Praha JIA PICK, 28-48 31st St., Astoria, 718-721-6422

Court Square Diner
, 45-30 23rd St., Long Island City, 718-392-1222
Da Gianni's, 21-50 44th Dr., Long Island City, 718-707-0442
La Vuelta, 10-43 44th Dr., Long Island City, 718-361-1858
Renaissance Steakhouse, 27-34 21st St., Long Island City, 718-274-4590
Riverview Restaurant & Lounge, 2-01 50th Ave., Long Island City, 718-392-5000
Tournesol JIA PICK, 50-12 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, 718-472-4355
Waters' Edge, The East River at 44th Dr., Long Island City, 718-482-0033

Astoria Love

Has anyone else noticed all the amazing press Astoria is getting these days? I couldn’t be prouder of this little neighborhood that could.

New York Magazine Highlights 31st Avenue

We’ve probably all suspected it, but 31st Ave is certainly becoming quite the destination with a glut of amazing places to shop and eat and its easy central Astoria location. Highlighted favorites include Loveday 31, Candy Plum, Bare Burger, Il Bambino and a few I have to check out like Himalaya Teahouse, Djerdan, and Zenon. Curiously missing is the Astoria staple, Brick, whose charming interiors, bountiful outdoor seating, and classic cuisine all keep us coming back time and time again, so go show them some love too.

Time Out New York Best Neighborhoods

Then came this gem (GEM!) of an article highlighting all the things we already know, including Astoria’s ranks as one of the best ‘hoods in the city. I love this article for its enormous resources, including not only where to shop/eat/drink but things like local singles, resident profiles and lots more info! A great page to bookmark and use over and over again or just to find something new to do in the neighborhood!

(*Picture courtesy of New York Magazine)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 24.09.09


Looks like we're heading for a much cooler weekend this week - perhaps fall really is on the way.  Keep an eye out for turning leaves (probably browns at yellows at this point) while you're participating in the Shoreline Cleanup at Astoria Park on Sunday.  This annual event is part of an international effort organized by the American Littoral Society.  Meet by the War Memorial along Shore Blvd in Astoria Park - everyone is welcome, but children must be supervised by an adult.  Wear closed toed shoes, too.  Event lasts from 1-4 p.m.

Afterwards, treat yourself to a cupcake at La Guli's while simultaneously helping kids with cancer.  What a fantastic day you will have had!

Saturday is Museum Day!  Both the Noguchi Museum (9-01 33rd Road) and the Sculpture Center (44-19 Purves Street) are participating.  This means free admission!  All you have to do is complete the Admission Card, download and print it out and you'll be good to go.

Head on over to the Hunters Point Hidden Treasures Market (48th Avenue and Vernon) on Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.  It's adjacent to the greenmarket and offers recycled and sustainably sourced crafts, jewelry, clothing, and art made by local vendors.

And, if you missed purchasing tickets ahead of time for Le Fooding (at PS1),  you may still be in luck!  The very last tickets will be available at the doors on September 25 and 26.  Take a chance on getting access to this food extravaganza.  It looks pretty awesome.

And one of these evenings, check out the new YOLO (22-55 31st Street) right below the Ditmars subway station.  YOLO stands for "you only live once".  They offer thin crust pizzas, salad, and a few pasta dishes - and a full bar from what I can tell.  The space is new, comfy and shiny, as are the multiple TVs - if you are looking for a nice place to watch the game, give them a try.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cupcakes for a Cause

Via email, I was made aware of Cupcakes for a Cause. It's simple - buy a cupcake at a participating bakery and they will donate to children's cancer charities. I scanned the list of participating NY bakeries and came across one participant in Astoria: La Guli. Oh, and 1-800-FLOWERS in Astoria is also a participating florist. But flowers aren't nearly as delicious as cupcakes.

The event lasts for a week, from 9/21-27. So head on over to La Guli and getcherself a cupcake!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Astoria, Queens - The Pilot

The New York Television Festival starts Monday and goes through the rest of this week, showcasing new modern and independent television programs, panel discussions, and other events that celebrate television as an art form.

One of the pilots premiering this week is called Astoria, Queens - "Inspired by the Wizard of Oz, four Kansas City twenty-somethings navigate their new lives in the scary, but exciting Emerald City of New York. After a day hanging with a Lindsay Lohan impersonator, shirtless male models, and a half-naked "stranger" who's not sure who he slept with the night before, the roomates question: "Did we do the right thing by moving here."

Here's the trailer:

You could attend the free screening during the following dates and times:

9/24 and 9/26 at 5:00 p.m.

340 West 50th Street (btw 8th and 9th Avenue), New York, NY

Friday, September 18, 2009

Introducing Art House Astoria

A really nice organization with a wonderful mission just opened up in Astoria - "to provide quality arts programs to the Astoria community at an affordable price." They offer music and arts classes, both private and group sessions given by qualified NYC based instructors.

Founded by Micah and Jane Burgess, an enthusiastic husband and wife team who are both musical artists - his credentials are in the Jazz Guitar and she specializes in vocal performance - Art House Astoria has something for everyone, from electric bass to drums/percussion, painting, drawing and even creative writing. They've been holding open houses in the last two weeks, so if you're interested in enrolling, contact them soon, as classes start on September 28th.

23-35 Broadway, Astoria NY 11106

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 17.09.09

Although the weather is dreary now, we’re looking at a lovely, sunny weekend ahead—a perfect opportunity to be up and about in the nabe.

Start your Friday night with a Happy Hour at Mezzo Mezzo with cheap drinks ($4-$6), a free buffet and hookah for $12. They’ll be running this promotion every 3rd Friday of the month. 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. And if the buffet isn’t enough, you can also take advantage of their $12.95 four-course prix-fixe. Monday – Friday, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. (last seating is at 6:30p.m.) 31-29 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.278.0444

One of my favorite pet shops in the nabe, The Jumping Bulldog has officially opened its second location for doggie daycare and they’re available on weekends. Check them out if you’re looking for a nice, fun and safe place for your pet to play and interact with other dogs. 26-11 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 917.576.7380

Meg and I had the pleasure to dine at the Balkh Shish Kabab House and I highly recommend it. Everything is super affordable (under $15 and mostly under $10) and so delicious. I urge you to try their fried pumpkin turnovers, scallion filled dumplings and the lamb kebab (pictured above). Baklava and pistachio custard should not be missed as a sweet finish. 23-10 31st Street, Astoria. 718.721.5020

Enjoy more yummy sweets at Ovelia, as they roll out new dessert items this week such as the strawberry banana crepe, “spoon sweets” served with Greek yogurt and delicious donut-like “loukomades” topped with Nutella or orange marmalade. They also have two new cocktails on the specials menu, so make sure to ask for them. 34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.7217

Two weeks ago, I told you about the amazing burek that I had at Djerdan. Meg also found them sold at Parrot Coffee Market on Ditmars Blvd in the frozen section. She praised them, saying how delicious and convenient they are to make. Check Parrot out this weekend and maybe you can discover other new treats you’ve never tried before. 31-12 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.545.7920

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting To Know...Vesta

On the unlikely corner of 30th avenue and 21st street, a quiet revolution is happening right here in Astoria. The owners of Vesta, long time Astorians, loved the slow food movements happening in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens, but found Astoria lacking in such options. With a commitment to our neighborhood, the owners opened Vesta, a restaurant committed to organic (when possible), locally grown, and seasonal foods. I know I personally would be lost without Vesta. Their rotating menu often seems scary at first (where did all those favorites go?) but soon you find a fantastic, seasonally appropriate new dish to swoon over! While you're there, don’t miss the Baby Jesus Cake, a lightly caramelized date cake that is quite possibly one of the best dishes in Astoria, the rotating selection of art, often by local artists, and Vesta's to die for wine selection.

In their spare time, the guys like to check out the movies at Socrates, dinners Mundo and Sweet Afton, or drinks at Hell Gate Social Club.

(ps- they tell me to be on the lookout for a new venture in the coming year…perhaps a new American Bistro and bar! Woo-hoo!)

2102 30th Ave
(718) 545-5550

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 10.09.09

Looking Toward Astoria

Fashion week is coming, and Astoria is taking part! Ovelia (34-01 30th Ave) is celebrating fashion week with their 2nd Annual Fashion Forum, featuring local jewelry, leather, and textile artists. Henna tattoos will be available, too! Festivities start at 8 p.m. on Sunday the 13th.  On the Thursday prior, KrisTees (24-01 23rd Avenue) launches more fashion fun during their Fashion's Night Out celebration.

SITE (35-11 34th Ave) hails the back-to-school season with a bunch of new products (the puppets are particularly cute). Stop by and check out what they have to offer!  Inside Astoria (37-20 Ditmars) is another place for fun home goods, too.

Elections are coming up!  I hope you've registered to vote.  On Saturday at 2 p.m., Allison Lichter (Culture Editor, WNYC/ will moderate a City Council District 26 (LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside) candidates' forum focused on issues related to the arts and cultural community, at the Chocolate Factory (5-49 49th Avenue). Democrats (Jimmy Van Bramer, Brent O'Leary, Deirdre Feerick) and Republican (Angelo Maragos) candidates will be present. Space is limited. Please rsvp to

The other day I stopped by the San Antonio Bakery #2 (36-20 Astoria Blvd South) to have a Chilean hot dog (AKA completa).  Let me tell you - it was even better than I remembered!  So delicious and highly recommended. Make sure you eat it with the accompanying pebre.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

One of the absolute best things about living in a place long enough is getting to know a bunch of really talented and creative people. Case in point, long time Astorian Tamara Reynolds. Tamara moved here ten years ago with less than optimistic feelings about our fair neighborhood but then was charmed by the abundance of unique markets, eclectic food choices at every grocery, and all those abundant fruit stands. Starting as just a small dinner party for friends, Sunday Night Dinner eventually grew into a grand, albeit quiet, tradition of family style dinners. Every couple of weeks, Tamara opens her home to strangers, and lovingly prepares amazing meals for a small fee. Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a Mexican Fiesta at her home, complete with knock your socks off guac and fantastic company! SND is a fantastic way to get to know a really authentic and different side of Astoria, and I highly recommend trying it out!

Taking her love for cooking and entertaining one step further, she and SND partner Zora just finished their new cookbook, Forking Fantastic! The book chronicles years of tips and tricks of dinner party hosting, tales of Sunday Night Dinners past, and of course all those tasty meals. I know I couldn’t be more excited to get a copy and try some of their amazing recipes.

In between hosting strangers in her Astoria home and writing a fantastic cookbook, Tamara recommends getting lost in the unique architecture found west of 21st street near 30th ave. Also on her list? The amazing Kabab Café (2512 Steinway), a local institution steeped in shisha tobaccos, domino playing, Egyptian pop music and of course truly amazing food.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fatty's Celebrates Six Years in Astoria

Thanks to Kristie Foster of Kristees for the heads up:
Fatty’s Café is celebrating their 6 year anniversary this Sunday night. Throughout the night Fernando and Sue told me they are having a DJ, open bar periodically throughout the night with lots more going on, so come celebrate and wish them well… ALL are welcome! (25-01 Ditmars Blvd @ Crescent Street)

Photo credit: Susan Vasconcelos

Fashion's Night Out at Kristees

Kristees is participating in Fashion's Night Out, part of a global initiative to celebrate fashion. Particularly notable for the evening:

Local designers showcasing their new fall collections include Valcarcel, The Divine Tribe (exotic bags and clutches), Asami Hotta (vintage inspired re-created jewelry), deChow (knit wrist bands), Elizabeth Dooley (NYC photography), and Baby Noir (baby wear).

Henna Artist Sunita Iqbal will be designing complimentary body art for those with the adventurous spirit

You'll get a first peek at new fall looks through KrisTees’ contemporary designers, including Nicholas K, Blue Notch, Bobi, and T.Tandon.

Complimentary refreshments will be served throughout the night.

Fashion's Night Out at Kristees
September 10th
6-11 p.m.
24-01 23rd Avenue

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 03.09.09

Labor Day weekend is here, and that means we get an extra day to relax and enjoy the fun that Astoria and LIC bring.

Saturday is the last day to enjoy P.S.1 MOMA’s Warm Up series so get yourself there and prepare to dance to the beats of DJ Spun, The Glenn Branch Ensemble, Lee Douglas, Justin Vandervolgen and others. 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City. 718.784.2084

Speaking of more outdoor activity, you could toast to a fruitful summer at a beer garden of your choice. The original, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria. 718.274.4925) serves hearty pitchers of brew and Eastern European grub. Or…if you prefer something more modern, try Studio Square (35-33 36th Street, Long Island City. 718.383.1001) with its extensive domestic and international beer selection—and even sangria on tap. They’ll remain open late-night on Monday, so if you have an extra day off, you can party until 4a.m.

Now on to eating...

Enjoy the all-day Brazilian buffet at Point Brazil (38-01 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.278.1934). They have a separate offering for breakfast and then a combined one for lunch and dinner. Prices are ultra low at $4.99-$5.99/lb so you could fill up here and then head to a cafe on 30th Avenue for coffee or a cocktail. Here are some suggestions: Grand Cafe (37-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.777.7321), Avenue Cafe (35-27 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.278.6967), Flo Cafe (37-20 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.204.6069), Ovelia (34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.7217)

A hidden treasure that I tried last weekend is Djerdan Serbian cuisine. They have the most amazing burek (pictured above) - which is a pastry filled with a choice of meat, cheese or spinach. Their grilled meats and traditional specialties such as goulash and stuffed peppers bring me back to my mom's kitchen. Simply amazing and very affordable. All entrees are under $15 and most are in the $10 range (34-04A 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.2694).