Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Weekend Edition 30.12.09

Another weekend, another holiday to celebrate! Don’t forget to check out our great guide to all the amazing New Years Eve celebrations happening around town.

Trying to keep those New Years resolutions? There are lots of amazing gyms, fitness centers and yoga studios to help you on your way. Crossfit Queens has only five spots left in their studios, click here for more info. Or try Evolution, New York Sports Club, Planet Fitness or the ever popular Yoga Room. The Yoga Room offers first time students any 3 classes for only $30!

Or, what about hitting up lots of local shops and getting some great deals on after Christmas sales? KrisTees is having their annual year end blow out with 25-60% off all their great designs. Pick something really unique up for your New Years Eve party. Loveday 31 also has some amazing finds, all boots are $49.00, all winter clothing is 25% off (including coats, jackets, scarves, & skirts) and their sale rack is buy 2 items get one free! Don’t miss the after Christmas sales at Inside Astoria and Candy Plum too!

Happy New Years, Astoria!

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Eve in Astoria

New Year's Eve is almost upon us.  If you're looking for a way to celebrate, there's no need to leave Astoria - there's plenty to do right here in town!  Here's what has come our way as far as tasting menus, prix fixe menus, and other celebrations.  Happy New Year, Astoria!

718, 35-01 Ditmars Blvd. 718-204-5553
"Join us for New Year's celebration - DJ Leon kicks off with Sounds of the 80's and Latin Music, starting at 11 p.m."

Bistro 33, 1933 Ditmars Blvd. 718-721-1933
A la carte menu Bistro 33 available all night (reservations suggested).
Special chef’s tasting menu beginning at 9:30 pm at Side Door. 6 course tasting menu with wine pairings, champagne toast at midnight. $95 per person. Reservation only.
New Year’s Day brunch 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Bistro Les Minots, 47-16 30th Avenue, 718-606-2535
Special 4 course menu, two seatings at 6 p.m. ($39.95 per person) and 9 p.m. ($49.95 per person).

DiWine, 41-15 31st Ave. 718-777-1355
Four course dinner, $70 per person,
Seating from 8-11 p.m. (regular dinner from 5-7)
Live DJ, complimentary champagne toast, party favors, free h'ors d'oeuves after midnight.

Gleasons Bar, 33-08 Broadway. 718-626-5393
"We're inviting everyone down New Years Eve. We have a kick ass band and its $60 at the door for an open bar (Top Shelf) and buffet dinner from 9 p.m to midnight. Doors will open to the public at Midnight! God Bless & Happy New Year!!!"

Hell Gate Social, 12-21 Astoria Blvd. 718-204-8313
"Ring in the New Year with the Times Square Ball drop live on our big screen, free champagne and some tasty hors d'oeuvres to snack on served throughout the night. DJ Blasphemey and The Two Bloody Tampons are lined up to keep us dancing through 2010! Doors open at nine. NO COVER."

Mundo, 31-18 Broadway, #E (on 32nd St.). 718-777-2829
Prix fixe dinner, $65 per person.
Seatings at 6:30-8:30 p.m. and 9-midnight.
For reservations call or place online.

Rest-au-Rant, 30-01 35th Ave. 718-729-9009
Free champagne toast at midnight, $3 shots, free platter of cold cuts or champagne bottle to groups of 5 or more, no cover charge.

Sweet Afton, 30-09 34th St. 718-777-2570
"Join Sweet Afton for an open bar from 9 p.m.-midnight with appetizers all night. Tickets will sell out, so purchase your tickets at the bar today."

Vesta, 21-02 30th Avenue. 718-545-5550
Sspecial 4 course prix fixe dinner.
Three seatings available: 6:00 p.m. $45 per person; 8:00 p.m. $55 per person; 9:30/10:00 p.m. $65 per person.
Party favors, Live broadcast of NYE in Times Square, Complimentary welcome glass and midnight toast, Black and  White attire recommended, not required.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Weekend Edition 23.12.09

The Joeys are still busy digging out from last week’s snow and busy finishing up all the last minute preparations for Christmas, so there will not be a Weekend Edition this week.

To all our readers who celebrate, have a wonderful and merry Christmas!

If you’re looking for some last minute gifts for loved ones, try these local spots:

Astoria Wines

Inside Astoria
Blooming Company
Jumping Bulldog
Loveday 31

We will be back next week with a great round up of all the amazing New Years Eve events happening all over Astoria. Until then, Merry Christmas all!

{Lovely Christmas Lights photo by Don3rdSE on Flickr}

Friday, December 18, 2009

Finally Fridays - Guess What?

In this very different edition of Finally Fridays, we have you doing the work.  We picked five favorite venues that we like to frequent on weekends - can you guess what they are?  As usual, they're listed in no specific order of importance because they're all great!

Here are the answers: 
#1 - 24 Wine Bar.  25-19 24th Avenue, Astoria.  347.777.6164
#2 - Arepas Cafe.  33-07 36th Avenue, Astoria.  718.937.3835
#3 - Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden.   29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria.  718.274.4925
#4 - Bizaare Avenue Cafe.  35-01 36th Street, Astoria.  718.937.1234
#5 - Ovelia.  34-01 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.721.7217


This low-key place brings in not only the locals but ____ connoisseurs too. What is it?


Fun, casual and inexpensive, this place produces great ____ cakes (they're called something else in Spanish).  What is it?


Eat, _____ and be merry here.  What is it?


This place changed names less than a year ago - are you a fan or do you think it's just plain weird? What is it?


Day or night, this place is always hoppin'.  What is it?

Post your answers in the comments section. Enjoy and happy Friday!

Champagne Tasting this Saturday at Vine Wine in LIC

The sweet LIC wine shop, Vine Wine, is having their annual Champagne tasting this weekend. From 3-6 p.m on Saturday, take a load off from shopping and stop by to taste some bubbles. They'll pour 3 different kinds of Champagne: Duc de Romet, Pierre Gimonnet, and Vilmart & Cie (2 of those are under $40!). Bonus: they'll be giving away a set of 2 Champagne flutes to the first 10 people who buy one of the featured Champagnes.

Vine Wine
12-09 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 17.12.09

Through the Trees 2

We are approaching the end of Hanukkah (did you have latkes? jelly doughnuts? mmm....) and Christmas is fast approaching.  Still looking for the perfect gift?  Definitely check out the upcoming local markets this Sunday, where you can support local artisans and craftspeople. Both locations - Waltz and Sweet Afton - serve great food, so you can nosh on something while you're there.

For more shopping, head over to LIC on Friday for their Midnight Madness shopping extravaganza.  Lots of local shops will be open late til' midnight, plus there are extras to entice you, like free hot chocolate at Manducatis Rustica and "buy one get one free antipasto" at Testaccio. I was just down there this past weekend - if you find yourself there earlier in the evening, be sure to stop by at Sweetleaf Cafe for some delicious coffee.

Those crazy cats at Why Leave Astoria?! are holding their annual holiday party at Ovelia (34-01 30th Ave) on Sunday night at 7 p.m. They're combining a number of things into one ball of fun: a holiday market (for last minute gift ideas), a coat drive (for NY Cares), a raffle (gift certificates to local establishments, and a luxury VA mountain weekend getaway), and a prix fixe dinner ($25 gets you 3-courses and a glass of wine). RSVP, please.

For something completely different, consider The Secret Theatre's performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring the Queen's Players. Performances are this weekend (December 16-20) and later performances on January 1-3. Shows are at 8 p.m., plus December 19 and 20 matinees at 3:30 p.m. Tickets $15, available online, or direct from the box office. Group discounts available.  718.392.0722

And finally, for a delightful dose of history, the Greater Astoria Historical Society (35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor) hosts an afternoon of American history. Along with Tony Pignataro and fellow history enthusiast Al Ronzoni, they will present dramatic and video illustrations of Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Battle of the Bulge. The event starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday and discussion will follow the main presentation.  Free!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Handmade Events This Sunday in Astoria

Astoria is fortunate to have so many creative people living here - musicians, writers, dancers... and craftspeople. This weekend some of our local artisans are presenting their wares for your pleasure and holiday gifting needs.

The first event takes place at Waltz-Astoria (23-14 Ditmars Blvd) - the third annual Handmade Holiday Indie Craft Show. According to organizer Krista DeJoseph:
This year, the show is entirely handmade and comprised entirely of Astoria-based artists. It's a great way to support local (very local!) designers and pick up last minute holiday gifts at the same time. Our vendors this year will be selling jewelry, stationary, wall art, clothing, accessories, housewares and more. Plus, the event is FREE!
The show will take place on Sunday, December 20th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(P.S. The pumpkin pie is pretty dang good at Waltz.)

Following at 6 p.m. is the Holiday Market at Sweet Afton (30-09 34th St.). Organized by waitress Christine Haber (of "I *HEART *ASTORIA" t-shirt design fame - she'll be there selling them), the market will feature five local Astoria artists and designers, and gives Astorians the opportunity to support local businesses. The market goes from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Grab some spicy pickles and a tasty cocktail while you're there, too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweetleaf Cafe - Excellent Coffee in Long Island City

This weekend I was able to catch the penultimate day of Sweetleaf's Free Coffee Week event, and I am kicking myself for not visiting sooner. It is, bar none, the best coffee I've had in the borough, and some of the best coffee I've had in NYC.

They serve the much-lauded Stumptown Coffee, and it is strong and delicious, not to mention fair trade. They offer American coffee ($1.75) and espresso-based coffee drinks ($2.25-$4.00) on the menu, as well as a variety of in-house baked goods (muffins and other treats).  They also sell Nunu Chocolates, which are wonderful - the hand-dipped salted caramel is my favorite so far.

The staff is really nice and accommodating, and owner Rich answered my questions about the store and products, and even passed on some brewing tips (which were a huge help!).  You can also buy Stumptown beans from them - 12 oz bags run from about $12-14, depending on the kind of bean you get.  I bought a bag of the Columbia El Jordan, brewed it this morning, and found it to be one of the smoothest cups of coffee I've had in quite a while.  I can see myself returning again and again for good coffee and fantastic beans for home brewing.  And those chocolates... mmm...

Definitely check them out - you won't regret it!

Sweetleaf Coffee & Tea
10-93 Jackson Ave, LIC

Hours: Mon to Fri 7:30am–7pm; Sat 8am–7pm; Sun 10am–6pm

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Food Neighborhood Poll

Over on Serious Eats they are holding a poll called "What's Your Favorite Food Neighborhood In New York?". Astoria is on the list! If you want to vote, head on over there (registration required) and show some love for the nabe. At the time of this writing, Astoria is holding down 5% of the vote - we can do better than that! Have fun...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 10.12.09

Man oh man will it be cold this weekend! But don’t let a little chill stop you from enjoying these fun (indoor) “social sports.”

Ornella is a great new Italian restaurant worth trying, and all dishes are derived from deeply cherished family recipes. Order the imbustata (pictured above), a specialty pasta “envelope” with roasted veal, chicken, wild mushrooms homemade mozzarella, spinach, mascarpone cheese and tomato sauce. As you can see, it’s an all-inclusive type of dish that's absolutely scrumptious. 29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 718.777.9477

Take a farm to table cooking class this Thursday (or next Thursday) at the Sage General Store. This week’s theme is “Trade Secrets from the Professionals” and covers topics from handling poultry to making the perfect pie crust. $80 per person – includes dinner and you get to take home a pie. 24-20 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City. 718.361.0707

In the mood for casual tapas or just good and inexpensive Latin food? Blend in LIC is a yummy option, and I had a wonderful dinner there last week. Top picks include the arroz con pollo, which is generous in portion and features the most aromatic seasoning, as well as the ropa vieja, served in a crunchy plantain cup. 47-04 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City. 718.729.2800

Indulge in a holiday specialty drink at Mezzo Mezzo--some of the creative concoctions they’ve devised especially for the holidays include martinis such as the chocolate peppermint, nuts-n-berries, an oatmeal-cookie latte and others. You can sample a drink for free with a purchase of an entrée. The special promo code is “holiday cheer” and it can be used on all days except for Saturday. 31-29 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.278.0444

If you like to play pool or ping pong and appreciate a relaxing, low-key setting, check out Break Bar on Broadway between 32nd and 33rd street. It’s pleasantly full but never too crowded on weekends, and the bartenders make you feel like part of the family. Pool is free until 9p.m. and they feature happy hour from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. on the weekends with $3 beers and $5 spirits. 32-04B Broadway, Astoria. 718.777.5400

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ornella - New Italian Restaurant in Astoria

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a tasting at the new Italian restaurant Ornella, at Judith's invitation.  We were fortunate enough to enjoy our meal with the owners, Ornella Viterale (for which the restaurant is named) and her husband Giussepe, as well as a family friend.  I had been very curious about the restaurant, which previously housed the Brazilian restaurant Samba Grill (which I never got to try, unfortunately).  I love Italian food, so I was pretty excited about checking it out.

Our hosts and guests were lovely, which provided a great entry to an excellent meal.  As we chatted together, there was a plate of bruschetta in front of us.  Not being able to resist tomatoes and bread, I went for a piece early on, and was impressed by how flavorful the tomatoes were for this time of year.  The bread, which is house-made, was also good and substantial, and the two went really well together.

We were asked, "Do you like nuts?"  Well, I told them, "I love nuts!" (I really do).  They were happy to hear this and presented us each with a plate of homemade noodles made with chestnut flour, and served with roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula, and shrimp.  Such a delicious combination!  The noodles were thick and resembled the texture of dumplings.  They were beautifully colored, and the combination with the vegetables and shrimp was mighty tasty.  Apparently, this dish of chestnut noodles is common in their region.  I'd never had anything like it, so it was a real treat for me.

I also had a caprese salad, one of my favorite things to get at Italian restaurants.  Their version was a little bit different, in that it was served with buffalo mozzarella and also roasted red pepper along with the tomatoes.  I loved it, and especially adored the quality of the mozzarella.  It was soft and supple, almost resembling burrata, one of my favorite fresh milk cheeses.  The addition of the pepper to the dish made it more interesting than your average caprese salad.  I'd get it again in a heartbeat.

I am also a gnocchi nut.  I love the stuff!  So, when I saw their gnocchi dish, I couldn't resist.  The little potato dumplings were in a cream and gorgonzola dolce sauce, so rich and creamy, but not overly heavy, as the gnocchi were nice and light - no lead weight in my stomach that night.  It was sweet, salty, and savory all at the same time. Fantastic.

I did get a chance to taste some of my fellow diners' dishes.  I was especially fond of Ornella's swordfish, partnered with olives, capers, onions and tomato sauce. Its texture was flaky and light but substantial, a far cry from the tough swordfish I had years ago at BeniHana.  I also had a bite of a very interesting dish that Judith ordered, called Imbustata, which was basically a large "envelope" of pasta filled with roasted meats and mushrooms.  So savory, rich, and deeply flavored.  I might have to try that next time.

For dessert, they brought out what looked like fried eggs, sunny-side up... in actuality, it was two halves of a poached peach resting in a pool of vanilla gelato.  Two of my favorite tastes, I ate it up gladly.  After that, they brought out a plate of cake slices - tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and Italian-style cheesecake.  Although I'm a total chocoholic, and a devout fan of tiramisu, the cheesecake stole my heart.  It was light, creamy, and perfect.  Don't get me wrong, the other two cakes were excellent as well, but there was something really special about that cheesecake.  Later, I learned that Ornella baked the tiramisu and cheesecake herself.  I  highly recommend keeping room for dessert - you won't regret it!

The space itself is narrow but doesn't feel cramped, and certainly gives the impression of more space than I got when peering into Samba Grill.  The walls are painted to resemble stone walls, nice and light, with street signs named after Ornella and Giuseppe's children.  I found myself feeling relaxed and comfortable there.

Prices are on the moderate side - $8-10 for appetizers, $15-19 for pastas, fish and meats from $18-25, desserts from $5-8. See the Foodista for more menu details.  Please see her review here.

Ornella Trattoria
29-17 23rd Avenue (Ditmars neighborhood)

Photo credit:  (c) Judith Klein Rich

Friday, December 04, 2009

Finally Fridays - Brunch

Wow I thought the weekend would never come...but finally it's here.  In this edition of Finally Fridays, we reveal five great picks for brunch.  As always, chime in with your two cents.

Sparrow - Leeks and fried eggs with sweet potato hash and crusty bread
24-01 29th Street, Astoria NY. 718.606.2260

Cafe Henri - Mushroom and goat cheese crepe with mixed greens
10-10 50th Avenue, LIC.  718.383.9315

Bistro 33 - Cajun fritatta with andouille sausage and crawfish
19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria.  718.721.1933

Sage General Store - Ranchero Burrito with organic scrambled eggs, onions, smoky ham, tomato & cheese
24-20 Jackson Avenue, LIC.  718.361.0707

Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company - Fluffy, humongous cinnamon raisin and plain bagel
35-05 Broadway, Astoria.  718.204.0141
35-09 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria.  718.932.8280
36-14 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.777.1121

Rally for Safer Streets on 21st Avenue

This is from a couple of friends involved with Astoria community issues:
On Friday, November 13, there was a fatal pedestrian tragedy where someone crossing the street was hit. This tragedy is compounded by the fact there are NO stop signs, speed bumps, or street lights on 21 Avenue from 21 Street and 28 Street. Within this seven block radius lies 2 schools, PS 122 and St. John's Prep HS and a daycare center Kid Krazy in which this tragedy happened in front of.

Our children are at risk for lack of traffic calming measures on 21st Avenue! There is a serious need for this to proceed.

Not only was there a fatality but several car related accidents have occurred in the past 12-18 months in this area. We are calling for the immediate remediation of the unsafe conditions at this intersection.

Join the Long Island City Alliance, Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee, local elected officials, 21 avenue residents and other concerned Astorians to stand up and urge the placement of traffic calming measures to make our streets safe for our children.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
21 Avenue on the corner of 23 Street

Facebook info

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Marriage Equality and Queens

Although we don't talk politics much here, we wanted to address something recent and relevant to many of our readers and fellow citizens - the issue of marriage equality. As you most likely know, the New York State Senate voted down the marriage equality bill yesterday, 38-24.

Personally, I feel this is a travesty. I support same-sex marriage. It is hard for me to understand why my gay and lesbian friends should be denied the right to marry. As far as I'm concerned, this is a civil rights issue.

As far as who voted for and who voted against, here is the vote count. Note that four of the eight democrats that voted against come from Queens.  They are Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.; Shirley L. Huntley; Hiram Monserrate; and George Onorato.

Now, George Onorato represents Astoria, which has a sizeable GLTBIQ population. I'm going to give you his contact information if you want to contact him to express your opinion on his vote yesterday:

District Office:
28-11 Astoria Blvd.
Long Island City, NY 11102
Tel: (718) 545-9706
Fax: (718) 726-2036

Albany Office:
310 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-3486
Fax: (518) 426-6929

Email address:

Discussion on yesterday's results is happening here and here.  Please join in if you feel so inclined.

Finally, here is a video that I found particularly moving on this issue:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Weekend Edition 03.12.09

Don't forget, tonight is Shine 2009 at KrisTEES, from 5-10. This special event is a unique collaboration by various artists to celebrate the energy of the holidays and the spirit of Fashion. Inspired by the movie “Where the Wild Things Are,” this evening will be magical with plenty to see and lots of beautiful holiday items. KrisTEES, 24-01 23rd Avenue at 24th street (718.204.5031).

Love Karaoke? Then check out Thursday night Karaoke at WunderBar! Drink specials and singing, what more could you want? How about a dedicated Karaoke bar right here in Astoria. Forget singing in public, bring a few friends and sing the night away in the soon-to-open Karaoke Shout’s private rooms. The website says opening in December, fingers crossed that’s soon! WunderBar, 37-10 11th Street. Karaoke Shout, 32-46 Steinway Street.

Need a break from all the holiday hustle? Why not check out the newly re-opened Fisher Landau Center for Arts? Currently they are displaying two unique exhibitions, including one on figures and portraits. Fisher Landau Center for the Arts, 38-27 30th Street (718.937.0727). Or, take advantage of this warm December we’re having by strolling through Socrates Sculpture Park, which is open year round! Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard.

Did you see that BareBurger is now offering bunch? This organic eatery has quickly become a popular go-to spot for Astorians with their delicious and healthy burger alternatives and classics like shakes and fries. Brunch is a mix of egg dishes, yogurts, and yummy multigrain pancakes and French toast. BareBurger, 33 - 21 31st Avenue, (718.777.7011).

{Fog picture by Astoria4U on Flickr}

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Shine 2009

Just wanted to make sure you all knew about this event tomorrow! From Kristie Foster:
On Wednesday, Dec 2nd, from 5-10 p.m. KrisTEES is happy to present to you Shine 2009.

This evening is a collaboration by various artists bringing their skills to life with the energy of the holidays along with the spirit of Fashion. Inspired by the movie Where the Wild Things Are, the evening will be a magical!


Mieko Anekawa: Our very talented local artist who literally will be using the store windows as a canvas to inspire all!

Hitomi Nozawa: This expressionist dance artist will be showcasing her skills in an interactive window while finding her way through the “mystical forest” Mieko has created.

Valcarcel: Local designer duo Peter Valcarcel and Arianna Ward will be costuming Hitomi in the window, as well as showcasing their new Holiday looks.

Ruico Oshika: this local stylist will be treating all to a complimentary holiday make-up look using vibrant new colors for all your stand-out events.

Designer Trunk Show- Meet hand selected designers with great items for yourself or for gift giving.

And New Arrivals to get you ready for the holidays!

24-01 23rd Ave

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Astoria Characters

Have you all seen this charming series of Astorian profiles over at The Huffington Post?

Each of these amazing little profiles is the work of local writer, Nancy Ruhling, and paints a unique picture of the little neighborhood we all love so much. From 80 year old residents to eccentric antique frame collectors to dedicated yoga enthusiasts, there are lots of interesting stories to be inspired by here.

Photo via The Huffington Post

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition 25.11.09

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Thus starts the official holiday season. Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with friends and family, expressing gratitude, and of course, eating! Judith has a great rundown on places to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in town, so if you are not preparing the meal yourself, here's some excellent options where you can get some local deliciousness in your belly.

Friday hails Black Friday, and boy do retailers need your business. One local Astoria business that I particularly love is The Little Soap Shop. Vivian is holding a sale, natch, so you'll find 20% off everything in her store that day, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. One thing she makes that I especially love is a citrus lavender reed diffuser, which users wooden reeds sipped in scented oil to spread a wonderful fresh aroma throughout the room.  And how about SITE's cupcake ornaments! How cute are they?!? They look good enough to eat!

On Sunday, stop by Immaculate Conception School (21-63 29th Street) for their Annual Flea Market. The event lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Vine Wine in LIC (12-09 Jackson Ave) will be open tonight until 11:00 p.m. - score! if you're still in need of happy libations. And on Thanksgiving Day, they are open from 10:00 am to 4:00pm! Tonight's wine tasting (5:30-8:30 p.m.) will involve three of their six Thanksgiving-themed wines. They've even boxed up these wines in a cute carrying case for your convenience. There is a $50 box and a $75 box, both saving you approximately $15 each.

Mix (40-17 30th Ave) is a new cafe/lounge in Astoria, and they hold a stich n' bitch each Saturday starting at noon. If you knit, crochet or partake in any other fiber craft, come on by to enjoy fellow needle nerds, and perhaps you'll even come away with something new for your stash. What a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Since the kids are home (including kids at heart) this weekend, The Museum of the Moving Image (35th Avenue at 37th Street) will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during Thanksgiving weekend with hourly screenings of short animated films from Pixar. Screenings will take place in Tut's Fever Movie Palace, and will include Luxo, Jr. (1986, 2 mins); For the Birds (2000, 3 mins); Jack-Jack Attack (2005, 5 mins); and Presto (2008, 5 mins).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finally Fridays - Dessert

Want to indulge in something sweet after a long, arduous week?  In this Finally Fridays, we pay homage to the sweet tooth, as we reveal our top 5 picks for Astorian desserts. 

Cara Bella - Profiteroles with chocolate sauce, chocolate gelato and fresh raspberries
47-02 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.956.1101

Vesta - Baby Jesus Cake.  Crispy, warm cake with butterscotch sauce and fresh whipped cream
21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.545.5550

Martha's Bakery - Vanilla butter cream cupcake with M&Ms
36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria.  718.545.9737

Djerdan - Keks torta, layered custard cake, a bit like Tiramisu
34-04A 31st Avenue, Astoria.  718.721.2694

Laziza - Assortment of cookies and cakes - coconut-almond cake, baklava, pistachio and date cookies
25-78 Steinway Street, Astoria.  718.777.7676

Hope these satisfy your sweet tooth - please chime in with your personal favorites.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Astoria's Famous Bulldogs

Image by

Reading this sweet story in the New York Times, passed along to me by the Jumping Bulldog's owner, Tanja Firrigno warmed my heart.  Featured in last weekend's NY Times, this cheery and touching feature explores a community of French Bulldogs that are the latest trend in Astoria.  The story goes into some detail about the unique nuances of this breed and even sheds light on specific doggies and their families.  This line especially made me smile: Jack (the bulldog) looked up at her and smiled like a clown. On command, he gave Mr. Herman a high-five with his petite paw, and they continued down the street.

Enjoy the article and please pass on to others with pets.

Astorian Weekend Edition 19.11.09

The weekend before Thanksgiving is a good time to chill before all the big holiday get-togethers. Check out a fun, casual eatery, watch football or enjoy a party at the Beer Garden.

Have you been to Stamatis yet? It’s an old Greek food staple in the heart of Astoria and their food is legit. Recommendations include the tzatziki dip and the chicken souvlaki platter. 29-09 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 718.721.4507

This Friday, check out Mezzo Mezzo for their 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. happy hour. They’ll feature a signature free buffet, $4 draft beers, house wines and $12 hookah. 31-29 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.278.0444

Toast to freedom this Saturday (5 p.m.) at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, when they’ll celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Admission is free and they’ll have $2 wine, vodka shots, Czech liquor and $10 pitchers of Czech beer. Nazdravie! 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria. 718.274.4925

Are you ready for some football? There are plenty of great places where you could catch the game but two in particular include Gleason’s, where on Sunday they serve 25 cent wings, and also the newly-opened Yolo, which has a $10.95 weekend brunch special. Gleason’s – 33-08 Broadway, Astoria. 718.626.5393. Yolo - 22-55 31st Street, Astoria. 718.777.1177

If you’re in the mood for something low-key, visit 24 Wine Bar (pictured above) this weekend. New things happening here include press coffee, vegan brownies, muffins and free wifi. Brunch may be in the works soon so check back to find out more. 25-19 24th Avenue, Astoria. 347.777.6164

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekend Edition 11.11.09

Can you believe it is November already? All this warm weather we’ve been having makes me want to head to one of our amazing local parks and enjoy the last bits of Fall.

This weekend is the Queens Film Festival, which showcases the diversity of our borough and features a wide variety of films being screened in multiple locations around our neighborhood. Check here for the venues, dates, and times. The opening party is Thursday at the Hotel Ravel.

Have you all heard about The Secret Theater? No? Now is a great time to check them out. This Thursday they are debuting their latest play, Cyrano De Bergerac, The classic story of how the disfigured genius, poet and dashing swordsman, Cyrano, falls in love with Roxanne. Runs through Dec. 5th. The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St.Long Island City.

This Sunday try something a new! Holistic health counselor Kristy Bredin will be teaching a class on traditionally fermented miso. Learn the health benefits and make a batch from scratch. More info (including registration details) here.

Enjoy a relaxing brunch at Bistro Les Minots, and get a great deal with their new $13.95 prix-fixe brunch menu which includes 2 drinks with your meal. On Sundays, listen to singer Andrew Gottlieb and enjoy the newly installed show by Painter Gabriele Perici while you eat. Bistro LesMinots 47-16 30th Avenue.

{Photo from Harris Graber's Flickr photo set!}

Friday, November 06, 2009

Finally Fridays - Burgers

Friday is here and we couldn't be happier. This week's Finally Fridays focuses on a comfort food that's hard to beat--burgers. Here are our top 5 picks for traditional and not-so-ordinary boighahs.

Sparrow Burger - Grass fed burger with thick-cut bacon and herbed fries
24-01 29th Street, Astoria. 718.606.2260

Sweet Afton Burger - Organic beef, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, sweet brioche bun
30-09 34th Street, Astoria. 718.777.2570

BareBurger Lamburger - Lamb patty, yogurt sauce, caramelized onions, 7 grain bun
33-21 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718777.7011

Indigo Turkey Burger - Turkey, toasted sesame seed bun, hand cut fries, cranberry mayo
28-50 31st Street, Astoria. 718.728.0050

Fatty's Turkey Burger - Turkey, jalapeno mayo, peppers, onions and a side of house salad
25-01 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.267.7071

Enjoy these fun varieties and let us know your personal burger faves.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Astorian Weekend Edition, 05.11.09

I Just Can't Get Enough

This weekend brings us Leaf Fest, right here at Astoria Park. The Astoria Park Alliance, working with the Queens Botanical Garden/Queens Compost Project, is collecting your fall leaves for composting (volunteers will turn the pile and gardeners will be able to partake in the compost come spring). Bring them with you to the Astoria Park parking lot on Sunday the 8th, between 11 a.m and 1 p.m., and volunteers will be happy to collect what you have. You'll be able to learn more about composting, too. If you can, please bring any non-perishable food items to donate to local food pantries. Leaf Fest continues on Sunday the 15th and 22nd, too.

Craving pork by chance? Head over to Sac's on Broadway for their annual pig roast. Around 8 p.m. on Thursday night the pig (actually two of them) will be cooked to the point of juicy deliciousness, having roasted on a spit all day. Call 718-204-5002 for reservations on Thursday, November 5 and Thursday, November 12. Sac's is at 25-41 Broadway.

Rèst Âü Ránt, home of the diacriticals, is turning two this weekend! Saturday hails their anniversary party, complete with live music, specials, passed hors d'ouvres and more! Party starts at 9, yum. The fun lives at 30-01 35th Avenue.

Remember the crap weather on October 24th? It totally harshed the plans for It's My Park Day at Queensbridge Park, so much so that they had to postpone it! Good news: this Saturday's the day! The event starts at 10 a.m. and goes til 2 p.m. Consider registering if you're part of a group (contact to register or if you have questions). Snacks and supplies will be provided for all volunteers.

Finally, Waltz Astoria (23-14 Ditmars Boulevard) presents The Ultimate Singer-Songwriter Contest. Details for contestants are here, and it looks like it could be a really good time. The festivities start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and the Sunday finale starts at 8 p.m. Come see and support great local talent. Also try the pumpkin pie - it's totally NOM-able.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rèst Âü Ránt's 2nd Anniversary Party

Rèst Âü Ránt is two years old this November! They are going to celebrate by inviting you to enjoy good times with them. Details:

Let us thank you once again for helping us through to our second birthday! Join us at our anniversary party on Saturday, November 7th at 9 p.m. Enjoy live music, specials, passed hors d'ouvres and more!

Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 4:00 a.m.
30-01 35th Avenue

Friday, October 30, 2009

And the Winner is...

We promised you a random drawing, and random it was.

The winner of the Forking Fantastic cookbook is (drumroll...)

MissCQ who said this about her favorite dinner dish:

For an everyday, make-after-getting-home-from-work-at-8:30 dish, homemade burritos. It's so easy to add a different pepper to the sauce, switch out the meat of the cheese and experiment with different kinds of beans. Put it on a low-calorie tortilla, and it's pretty healthy too!

Congrats MissCQ! Please email us your mailing address and we'll send you the fabulous Forking Fantastic cookbook.

Finally Fridays - Pizza

Before you officially start your weekend, we wanted to leave you with one last thing to chew on--pizza!

In no particular order, here are five recos for that great pizza bite. Oh and expect other Finally Fridays in the coming weeks...

Vesta's Hangover Pizza - crispy thin dough with a fried egg on top, it's perfect for brunch
21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.5550

Testaccio's Stone Oven Prosciutto Pizza - salty and slightly smoky with well done edges
47-30 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.937.2900

Manducatis Rustica's Diavola Pizza - thin crust pizza with sausage and sweet black olives
46-35 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.937.1312

718's Tarte Flambee - sort of like pizza but thinner and flakier with crumbled bacon on top
35-01 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.204.5553

Da Franco's Pizza Alla Modena - brick oven pie with fresh muzz, arugula, prosciutto, etc.
23-92 21st Street, Astoria. 718267.0010

Take a bite out of that and enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Astorian Spooktacular Weekend Edition 29.10.09

Image by

Halloween is here! And that means plenty of fun, silliness and of course, dressing up. In addition to the many Halloween goings-on, check out these cultural and food happs in your neck of the woods.

Still can’t decide what you’re doing for Halloween? We have some fabulous options– ranging from a masquerade ball to the “biggest outdoor Halloween party in Queens.” If you’re still looking for more, check out some of my restaurant-focused recos.

Have you checked out the newest fooderies in LIC? Testaccio Ristorante, focused on contemporary Roman cuisine opened last weekend and El*Ay*Si is still in previews, holding tastings this week. I’ve tried both and think they’re worth checking out—especially the delicious stone oven pizza at Testaccio. Testaccio - 47-30 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.937.2900. El*Ay*Si – 47-38 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.389.8781

We just got news that a new bar opened in Astoria in a nabe that’s starting to buzz with activity (upper 30th Avenue). The place is called Radio Bar & Grill and they boast a “killer burger” and plenty of beers on tap. They’ll host a Halloween party on Saturday, which could be a good opportunity to check them out. 49-18 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.204.6892

Want to do something cultural this weekend? Visit P.S.1 MOMA and explore their seven (yes seven!) new art exhibits. One that particularly caught my interest spotlights a tumultuous year, 1969 and is a collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints. P.S.1 MOMA – 22-25 Jackson Avenue, LIC. 718.784.2084

One of my favorite vintage furniture shops both in Astoria and LIC is Nook n’ Crannie. If you haven’t been, I highly encourage it. They sell the most wonderful, gently used items such as furniture, accessories, paintings and nostalgic gifts. Proceeds benefit the Betel of America charity. Astoria - 29-18 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.204.8399. LIC - 47-42 Vernon Blvd, LIC. 718.706.6477

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anna Fleshler at Mundo

One of the things I love about Mundo (and there are oh, so many) is their dedication to local art. In a neighborhood full of talent, it's great to see local business support artists in a tangible way. Their current show is by Anna Fleshler, whose work is full of feminine icons, pop art influence, and saturated in color. She has a great variety of her paintings available for purchase, most at really reasonable prices.

Also not to miss- Mundo's rendition of Gluhwein, a warmed spice wine, perfect for chilly Fall nights. Available seasonally only, and only $5 for a glass, or $20 for a pitcher.