Monday, June 14, 2010

Jobs That Aren't Dumb - Now Recruiting

Here's a few scenarios. See if any of them describe you. You got laid off. You're tired of getting people coffee and answering phones. You'd rather your work was a little more meaningful than price-fixing cantaloupe. You love NYC and would like to do something for it.

If any of these describe you, you may want to at least check out NYC Civic Corps. The NYC Civic Corps is a diverse group of individuals - from recent graduates to experienced professionals - who dedicate one year of service to New York City. Corps members are dispatched in small teams to local non-profit organizations and City agencies with the charge of developing sustainable volunteer programs and expanding organizational capacity. In return for their service, members of the NYC Civic Corps earn a monthly living stipend, health and commuting benefits, and an end-of-service education award. Corps members also receive monthly professional development and support from NYC Service.

In Astoria & LIC, the NYCCC has done at least two awesome projects that I know of - one with Computers for Youth, a nonprofit organization located in Long Island City that empowers low income children to perform better in school by improving their home learning environment. And another with Materials for the Arts, an initiative of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, solicits art supplies for use by non-profit groups and schools.

Applications are available at Only online applications will be accepted, and the application deadline is June 30, 2010.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fashion Al Fresco

If you'd rather not shop in the AC this weekend, you're in luck. Ethereal Boutique will be hosting Fashion Al Fresco an open air market in its fashionable patio courtyard on June 12-13 and June 26-27 from 12:30PM to 8PM. It's located at 48-37 Vernon Blvd. LIC, NY 11101. Fashion Al Fresco will feature jewelry and clothing designers in umbrella and table booth displays in the Ethereal courtyard.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Astoria WNYC fans, represent!

Astorian Jeanne Marie Boes is competing in WNYC's Battle of the Boroughs - our own public radio version of Idol, I guess. Jeanne has already made the cut to represent the Queens Top 5.

Online voting is open this week to determine who will go on to represent Queens in the Ultimate Battle of the Boroughs!

You can stream her performance and VOTE online here. Support Astorian Arts and go vote!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Queens Art Express to LIC

Join Juvenal Reis Studios, P.S.1, Subdivision, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, the Secret Theatre, M55 Gallery and several other hip and happening LIC venues for Queens Art Express!

This week and weekend there will be piles of cool arty events happening right in LIC. Events include art shows and openings, musical performances, plays and lost more cool stuff - way too much to list here. Check out the LIC listing for Queens Art Express!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Designer Shopping on the River

This weekend Socrates Sculpture Park will host it's 2nd Annual Maker's Market. what is it? It's an opportunity to shop for lots of pretty things, made domestically, in a fabulous setting. What more could a gal want on a nice Saturday afternoon?

Saturday, June 5, 11am - 7pm / Free Admission
Sunday, June 6, 11am - 5 pm / Free Admission

Monday, May 24, 2010

Astoria in Pix

This New York Times article is a little bit been-there-done-that, but it does have a nice photo essay of Astoria.

A Mediterranean Village on the East River

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All the Fresh Veggies, None of the Commitment

Astoria welcomes a new, exciting CSA to town! Holton Farms, from Southeastern VT, has lots of tasty produce and other farmy items. But they also have some innovation going on. I hear it all the time... "I'd love to do a CSA, but it's too much commitment!" Yeah, it really can be for a big city gal. Off the the Hampties or a film festival, or even brunch (!) and then it's "oh crap, my veggies!". Not so with Holton Farms who will let you buy "what you want, when you want". (You can do a more traditional CSA plan with them, too.)

Catch their truck at Steinway & 35th Ave from 9 to 10am on Sundays. and check out their website, for more info and sign ups. Plus, JIA readers can use the discount code HFASTORIA for 5% off CSA Memberships!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Music Marathon at the Beer Garden

This Saturday don't miss 12 hours of music, 11 bands for 10 dollars at the Beer Garden. And it's to raise $ for more music in Astoria.

On Saturday, May 22nd, Astoria Music and Arts will host a fundraiser at the Bohemian Beer Hall to benefit the Astoria Music Now! Festival – this July in Astoria Park. Performances for Saturday include: The Missing Teens, Thunderbang!, Little Creatures, Bliminal, The Jamies, Digamy, Freedomhead, Illimanjaro, Mainline Gypsy, RatTrap Bumpkin and Bad Buka with DJ Sambarella on the decks and MC Stellini hosting the event.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Free Admission to the Noguchi Museum

I bet you haven't even been to the coolest museum in Astoria. Well, this is the perfect weekend to head down to The Noguchi Museum on 33rdth Road between Vernon Boulevard & 10th Street.

This weekend they celebrate their 25th Anniversary Kick-Off Weekend. The festivities begin on May 15 & 16, with two days of Free Admission and programming for visitors of all ages. From 12:30 – 3:30pm (both days), participate in ongoing interactive tours, gallery guides for families, and art-making projects for visitors of all ages. From 4:00 – 6:00pm on Saturday, Noguchi Museum’s Teen Advisory Board will present a for-teens-by-teens event. Join artist Allyson Vieira for a sculpting workshop.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reader Tip: Sabor Andino

Reader Tip on new AmeriMex resto:
A new restaurant opened up called Sabor Andino, it has an American/Mexican cuisine. The food is absolutely delicious and so reasonably priced! After eating, I spoke with the owner Angel, he has worked at many top notch restaurants in the city and has now decided to open his own place. His experience and skill can't be denied. I've tried a number of dishes there and they are all great (try the seafood combo if you like seafood, you will not be disappointed). It would be great if you could review this restaurant and feature it on the site to help give this worthy restaurant business.
Thanks, Garry!

Friday, April 16, 2010

If you want to sing out...

I haven't been to a sing-a-long since my teva-wearing, guitar-playing, phish-bootleg-trading days at summer camp. But I'm not going to lie to you. It sounds like fun. Especially post-mimosa.

Andrew Gottlieb, guitar player and singer, invites you to come and sing along with him at Bistro Les Minots on Sunday April 25, 2010 from 2 pm to 4 pm. Free mimosa to all participants. Reservations are required for this kind of public embarrassment, as well they should be.  Call (718) 606-2535.

Participants will select songs from a thirty song booklet including the Beatles, Peter Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, and Johnny Cash.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Tempest Opens in LIC

The extremely Secret Theatre is opening The Tempest this week in LIC. And even I am a sucker for off-Broadway Shakespeare. Support local arts and make up for only reading the Cliff's Notes, slacker!

Opens tonight (April 15th) at 8pm and runs until April 30th at The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St, LIC 11101. Tickets are $15. Matinee performance on Sunday 25th at 3.30 pm.

Monday, April 05, 2010

New Lebanese Resto

New Lebanese restaurant, Haddad’s, under the N line in Astoria. Have you been?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New fitness studio and FREE CLASSES this weekend

As if Astoria wasn’t already packed with amazing ways to stay in shape, the neighborhood is welcoming ANOTHER new studio to the mix. Located in the old Yoga Room Steinway location, the Art of Fitness (formerly Pilates in Astoria) is making its debut this weekend with an open house and FREE CLASSES!

I have to say I’m especially excited, as my all-time favorite mat pilates instructor, Lindsay Lopez, will be returning to the neighborhood. My abs haven’t looked the same since she left the Yoga Room a couple of years ago.

The Art of Fitness offers private and semi-private sessions, including reformer, tower, wunda chair and mat classes. They also have some more interesting classes on the roster, including cardio ballet barre, cirque style fitness and burlesquercise. Sounds sexy.

Lindsay will be teaching the first free mat class at 9am on Saturday, but there are several other options throughout the day. Along with free group classes and free sample sessions on the equipment, snacks and refreshments will be served.

View Larger Map

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Astoria Bagel Hunt

It may sound like a simple task to do in New York City, but finding the perfect bagel is not so easy. When I first moved to Astoria, I knew good food was all around me: Greek restaurants in full supply; sushi at my fingertips; the city’s best diner in 1999. But I was not satisfied. I needed to find the place to fill my weekend-morning carbohydrate desires. It took a little while and a little help from Yelp, but I found my Astoria bagel.

The bagel pictured here is perfection. It’s an everything bagel from the Astoria Bagel Shop on Ditmars Blvd., between 28th and 29th Street. It is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. The bagels are always fresh and chewy, with a little crunch on the bottom (which is my favorite part), and they are huge! They have a large variety of cream cheeses to choose from and seating. It’s a great place for a cheap and delicious breakfast. And I’m pretty certain I’ve found my perfect bagel in Astoria and in the rest of NYC.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jill Joins JIA!

We have another new guest blogger, folks! Jill moved to Astoria in August of 2008, happy to leave the J train far behind her. She enjoys trying as many restaurants as possible, reading in the park and mentally correcting other people's grammar. Welcome, Jill!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Literary Astoria

Love every George Constanza reference to Astoria? Always look for books set in the old neighb? I love pop culture set in Astoria. New Sam Lipstyle book The Ask is set right here. (Full disclosure: I haven't read it yet.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Queens Supports you, Artists!

I know there's lots and lots of artists living here in Astoria and LIC. Did you know about all the support the Queens Council on the Arts does for you, right here in our neighborhood?

This Spring they are hosting oodles of support programs - lots of info on grant-writing and all that fun stuff - right here in Astoria/LIC.

Click to learn more

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Nuttiest Astorians

Long time readers of JIA may recall our nuttiest Astorians taking quite the adventure at the The Mongol Rally in 2007.

Well, good news. They made it. And now they are at it again.

This summer Astorian team - Team Monkey Wrench - will be driving in a not-so-ruggedized "moto" through the Andes, the desert, the salt flats... oh my! Why are they doing this? Because they got dared to. Okay, it's really cuz they are nuts, but also they are raising money for Operation Smile which is a supercool organization that provides medical care for children around the world. Let's help these guys Andes...that Astoria is badass! Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Puppy borrowing near Astoria. AKA volunteer dog walking

Coming from the Midwest, I know I miss having big, loving dogs around. Especially when the spring weather hits, like it did this weekend, I wish I had a canine companion to stroll with. A run in Astoria Park would be so much more fun with a four-legged buddy …

If a small Astoria apartment prevents full puppy ownership, think about borrowing one for a few hours at BARC – Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition. This no-kill shelter in Williamsburg – just a short jaunt on the G train away – is almost constantly in need of volunteer dog walkers.

Dog walk volunteering is fun and free. You can request buddy dogs that are friends if you want to come with a buddy of your own. It’s not exactly in Astoria, but it’s close. And the animals come from all over.

I did my first round of service with NY Cares, but I plan to start working with them directly to schedule walk times. Even though we were out for nearly three hours, Molly (pictured above) and I had a great time – I wish I could bring her home with me.

New Guest Blogger

Fresh back in Queens from her world adventures, Lisa Travnik will be the newest to be blogging with JIA. Lisa is a traveler extraordinaire, cupcake enthusiast, and Astoria-buff, of course! Welcome, Lisa!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Astoria CSAs

Everybody knows local food is awesome. And some of you probably already know that CSAs are awesome. If you don't know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You buy a "share" of a farm and for a whole season you get a box o' veggies every week or other week from that farm (ie a share of their harvest). Astoria is like CSA-central for Queens which is because we are awesome.

Edible Queens did a run down of QNS CSAs and I'll give you the cliff's notes for Astoria here.

Pick up @ Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House, 10-25 41st Ave., LIC
212-825-0028, x201

Pick up @ The Church of the Redeemer, 30-14 Crescent St., Astoria
* JIA Staffers have been members and love love love this one. FYI.

Pick up @ 29-13 23rd Ave. (at back of Fresh Start market), Astoria

Pick up @ Cafe Bar, 32-90 36th St. at 34th Ave., Astoria

View Astoria CSAs in a larger map

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Michellin-rated LIC Chefs Will Strike Again

Michelin-rated LIC chefs, the Lee Brothers (Shi, 47-20 Center Blvd), will open new Mexican resto, Skinny's Cantina, in "Queens West".

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Astoria Park" - the Movie

Astoria-based film makers making Astoria-based movie.

From Tibet to Astoria

Do I want to get some delicio green tea or see an art show? Alas, you will no longer have to make this decision thanks to Astorian photographer Jennifer Lim who's show of fabulous captures from Tibet is on display at our own Himalayan Tea House (31st Ave betwn 33rd & 34th Sts) from now until the end of March. I call that yum+pretty!

See a few of Jennifer's extraordinary pics here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wine Tastings @ DiWine

I love me a nice wine tasting. This Spring DiWine is doing some new stuff. They're adding some new cocktails to their menu and bringing back brunch and wine tastings. Wine tastings are every Tuesday at 8pm, they're free, and each wine is paired with some tasty hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Kayaking & The Foundry

Even if you hated boats, water, and not-for-profit organizations, the LIC Boathouse Fundraiser would be reason enough to go The Foundry which is a spectacular event-only venue in Long Island City. It is ubercool and for $20 you get to raise money for free kayaking activities on the East River this summer. While I get that doing anything in or on the East River may sound gross to some, people seem to rave about it and I think they should have the option. And you will, too. Every summer the LIC Boathouse runs tons of free boating activities at Hallet's Cove (near Socrates Sculpture Park).

Event Info:
Thursday, March 11, 5-10pm
The Foundry, 42-38 9th Street, LIC

Friday, March 05, 2010

Flamenco, Baby!

I don't think I've ever actually seen Flamenco in person to tell you the truth. Most of what I know about dance is from Strictly Ballroom, Dirty Dancing, or Fame. But apparently the American Bolero Dance Company is quite the operation and "has enjoyed raves from both the press and audiences worldwide." It sounds pretty neat.

The event is is tonight!
Auditorium Centro Espanol
41-01 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Tix $22

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rock Out for Haiti

You can't live in a neighborhood as diverse as Astoria without wanting to do something for Haiti. (Then again, you'd have to be a total jackass not to anyway.) Now, odds are that you've all contributed a little here and there already. But Stomp & Howl Movement has found a great way to get you out to show your support and show you some great tunes, too.

They'll be curating Lespwa: A Haitian Health Foundation Benefit this Saturday, 9pm at our own Hell Gate Social. It will feature a hip hop lineup with some of Queens' finest emcees and deejays including Homeboy Sandman, Illimanjaro, Hops, Drew P, and DJ Lo-Fi. All proceeds from the event will benefit Haitian Health Foundation.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How Attached are You to the W?

If you're like Councilmember Vallone, a lot. Vallone, CB members, and many Astorians gathered yesterday morning at the 30th Av stop to protest the proposed permanent termination of the nine-year-old subway line, the W.

Love Your Street Trees!

A jillion years ago I actually planted a little Ginko Tree in an abandoned tree pit in front of my apartment. (See my husband and said tree.) Sadly the highly evil landlord removed it (ew!) after we moved and put in some dumb ugly plant. If you would like to save your trees from a similar fate, learn how thanks to Astoria's Build It Green!

Here's the deets:

March 6, 2010: Street Tree Guard Clinic

Build it Green hosts Green Shores NYC and Brooklyn Shade for a Free Workshop on Tree Care

Learn how to care for your local street trees! Get hands-on instruction in how to design and build a low cost tree guard to protect the street trees in your neighborhood and receive tips on requesting and caring for a new tree. The event is free and no prior experience is needed. However, space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, email greenshoresnyc at and include “tree guard clinic” in the subject line. All students will have the opportunity to measure, cut and assemble the guard under the supervision of the clinic instructors.

Saturday March 6, 2010
10:00 AM to 12 Noon
BIG! NYC Warehouse: 3-17 26th Avenue, Astoria

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Greater Astoria Historical Society Gets Titanic New Stuff

Have you ever been to the Greater Astoria Historical Society? Probably not. Loads of old stuff, but some of it's is pretty neat if your an Astoria buff like us.

Read about their new stuff from Titanic collector and former LIC resident, Joe Colletti.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Freeze Peach Lives on in Literature

Missing Freeze Peach? Astoria's own community tea joint closed in 2008, but it may live on in fiction. See profile of former owner and now writer Meesh in the Huffington Post...

Help Raise Cash for Astoria Tunes

Astoria's Goliard Concerts is holding a series of outdoor concerts in Queens' parks this spring and summer. And we like outdoor concerts. They are hosting a cocktail fundraiser on Sunday, February 28th at Cronin & Phelan's (38-14 Broadway in Astoria on Broadway between Steinway & 38th Street) to raise the cash.

Support local Arts? Put your money where your mouth is. "Come chase away the winter blues with warm friends and hot toddies." says Golliard. Event will feature soprano Carol Kaszar, "The Diva" and, Irish folk-music with Stanley Rygor. "Get ready to clap your hands!"

Goliard Concerts Fundraiser
Sunday, February 28th, 3-5pm
Cronin & Phelan's Bar and Restaurant, 38-14 Broadway (Astoria)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Astoria, Old Time Residents Rule

So, how about that giant monolith they built next to your building that blocks out the sun and looks like your block grew a giant goiter? (Or are you living in it?)

Well, last week our Community Board voted to slow down the monoliths - though the economy has been helpful on that note, too, let's face it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love is in the Air!

Love is in the air, Astorians! Love it or hate it Valentine’s Day is here and there are lots of great things to do around town.

Tonight head over to Waltz-Astoria for their silent auction benefiting the World Wildlife Fund, featuring art by Bridy Designs. Have a glass of wine and enjoy some art as a start to the big romantic weekend. Starts at 8, goes ‘till 10. (23-14 Ditmars Blvd)

Make reservations at one of many fantastic local spots offering Valentine’s Prix Fix menus. Many of them are by reservation only, so don’t forget to book your spot ahead of time! Some great choices:

Mundo has an amazing veggie friendly line-up for $40 that includes both dessert and a cup of their warm spiced wine!

Vesta has a decadent Prix Fix with some local day boat seafood options and of course that to-die-for Baby Jesus Cake to finish, at just $50 per person.

• Enjoy a small French feast at Bistro Les Minots, just $34.95 per person

DiWine has an interesting four course menu, it comes with one glass of wine and is priced at $55.

• One of my favorite Astoria spots, Rest-Au-Rant is also having a five course tasting menu for $40 per person.

• Or, check out our very own Foodista’s suggestions here. She has rounded up lots of great eating options not to miss.

Maybe you’re looking for something non-food related for your sweetie. Check out Natura Spa’s great mini spa package. Priced at just $130 each package includes a mani/pedi, a 30 min massage, and one of their fantastic mini facials. Call (718) 956-5530‎ to reserve. Art more your thing? Enjoy a Valentine’s Day talk at the Noguchi Museum by renowned art historian, Dore Ashton. Her talk will focus on the man and the art of Isamu Noguchi. As a close personal friend of the artist, she’ll share personal insights from her years with the artist. The talk starts at 3pm. (9-01 33rd Road off Vernon Boulevard)

(*Picture above from the great new-ish photo blog by a great local author. Check it out!)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Finally Fridays - Best Bar Food

Feliz Friday readers!  Hope you're enjoying the last couple of hours before the snow. 

We wanted to headline this Finally Fridays with the best bar food in honor of the Superbowl this Sunday.  We hope you have plans to do something fun, and if you're still unsure about what that something is, maybe these five suggestions will sway you. 

Gleason's - Honey mustard chicken wings, smothered in thick, slightly sweet sauce that hits the spot.
33-08 Broadway, Astoria.  718.626.5393

Astoria Brewhouse (previously Indigo) - Sliders with delicious, juicy beef (and pulled pork) topped with cheese and sauteed onions.
28-50 31st Street, Astoria.  718.728.0050

Sparrow -  "A burger that exceeds expectations - perfectly cooked meat, gruyere melting excellently, with the exact right amount of onion on top," says Meg.  
24-01 29th Street, Astoria NY. 718.606.2260

Dillinger's - Wings, wings, wings - fresh, piping-hot and really meaty.  You won't get any puny poultry here.
46-19 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.956.5601

Studio Square - Pardon the phallic shot but this Schaller & Weber Kolbase is just delectable. 
35-33 36th Street, Long Island City.  718.383.1001

Random Access Music at Waltz Astoria

Waltz is hosting another classical music night, with guests the Random Access Music composers' collective. This will be their first concert of 2010.

Violinist Jessica Mathaes, concertmaster of the Austin Symphony, will be accompanied by pianist Colette Valentine, and they will perform new music by Allen Schulz, Andrew McKenna Lee, David Fetherolf, Erin Rogers, Jonathan Pieslak, and Stefan Weisman; six pieces in all.

Jessica is the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Austin Symphony! This is quite and achievement.

Info for the concert:
Friday, February 12, 2010
23-14 Ditmars Blvd.
Tickets: $15 table charge (drinks, desserts, and light snacks)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Astorian Weekend Edition 04.02.10

So, this weekend is an unofficial American holiday - Superbowl Sunday.  The Foodista has a rundown of 10 Superbowl party offerings in town, and such variety!  A lot of fun is to be had... as well as good eats!

Since it's going to be a little chilly this weekend, perhaps consider making a visit to one of our many museums in town.  From the Museum of the Moving Image, to the Noguchi Museum, to PS1, there is a lot to see out there. Then stop over at Il Bambino (34-08 31st Ave) for a nutella hot chocolate to warm up.

Astoria Indies continues its Thursday film series at Bohemian Hall, with Adventures of Power, starring Adrian Grenier. "Adventures of Power is an epic rock n' roll comedy about the American Dream, love, and air-drumming. A Sundance fave, AoP walks the fine line between clever and stupid with grace and panache.‚" 8 p.m. at the beer garden (2919 24th Ave).

Friday night at Waltz (23-14 Ditmars Boulevard) brings you local talent in the form of The Ultimate Show - Steph Allen, Jon Christopher (both The Ultimate Singer Songwriter finalists), and Joe Jung, winner of The Ultimate Singer-Songwriter contest, will be playing from 8-11 p.m. $10 Drink minimum, no cover.

Finally, for something completely different, head to LaGuardia Community College (31-10 Thomson Avenue) to see Target Margin Theatre's production of The Really Big Once (a work-in-progress). This experimental theater piece incorporates the letters of Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams on one of their most celebrated failures, Camino Real. This workshop will be followed by a Q-and-A with the company. The show starts at 8 p.m. on the Mainstage and it's free! For reservations, email:

Photo:  (cc) pkeleher on flickr

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Attention Veggies - Ornella's Got What You Need!

Eating vegetarian is becoming more and more common, and it's nice to see that restaurants are adapting.  The most recent place that has added a hefty vegetarian menu is Ornella.  Not only does the menu sound incredibly delicious, it also looks to be diverse and filling.  They've added a brunch menu last week, which also includes plenty of veggie options at a good price. 

Ornella continues to be a BYOB joint for the time being, so take advantage of it and bring a bottle of vino to enhance your experience.

Ornella's Vegetarian Menu:

Pasta di Castagna - Homemade chestnut flour pasta with arugula, cherry tomato in garlic & oil sauce...$18
Linguine al Pesto...$15
Pasta di Ceci - Homemade chickpea flour pasta with artichoke hearts, black olives in a garlic & oil sauce..$15
Pasta Riso - Rice flour pasta with baby spinach, fresh mozzarella in garlic & oil sauce...$16
Spaghetti Carbonara Vegan - Seitan wheat, organic eggs, pecorino romano cheese, cracked black pepper & parsley...$18
Orecchiette con Rape - Ear-shaped pasta with broccolli rabe & sundried tomato...$16
Pizzoccheri alla Fontina - Buck wheat pasta with cabbage, potato and fontina cheese...$18
Rigatoni Amatriciana Vegan - Tomato sauce, onions, seitan wheat and fresh peas...$18
Melanzana alla Parmigiana - Eggplant, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese...$16
Penne Integrali - Whole wheat pasta with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, escarole, fresh mozzarella, garlic, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil...$15
Malfatti con Carclofi - Homemade uneven-shaped pasta with capers, artichokes & black olives...$15
Paccheri con Ceci - Super large rigatoni pasta with creamy chickpea sauce...$15
Lumache con Broccoli - Big snail-shaped pasta in creamy broccoli sauce...$15
Risotto con Spinachi - Italian arborio rice with baby spinach, raisins and pignoli nuts...$18
Risotto al Radicchio e Pere - Italian arborio rice with radicchio, pears & gorgonzola cheese...$18
Risotto al Funghi - Italian arborio rice with mixed mushrooms & goat cheese...$18

Ornella Trattoria Italiana
29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

Monday, February 01, 2010

LOST in Astoria

Why Leave Astoria?! is holding a LOST viewing party at Studio Square (35-33 36th St.) tomorrow night. Looks like it's going to be a lot of fun! It's always a good time watching such things surrounded by other fans. Great drink specials, and more! Details:

Join fellow Lost fans this Tuesday for the borough's best (and only) official Lost viewing party. Watch the final season premiere of Lost like you've never seen it before--on a 60" plasma screen and five mounted 42"...all in surround sound!

We'll have Lost trivia at each commercial break and give away free beer and gift certificates throughout the night.

We'll have $12 pitchers of Dharma beer on tap and $5 Dharma addition to a full island cocktail drink list. We'll have lots of surprises in store, so stop by and see what everyone will be talking about next week.

The series catch-up airs at 8p, then the new episode at 9p.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Finally Fridays - Best Thai Food

It's Friiiiday again - we wish you a happy one even though it's so stinkin' cold outside.  I was thinking...what could be nice on a blistering weekend like this one?  Some good, hearty (and warm) food.  Thai food comes to mind, which features comforting carbs like noodles and protein such as beef, pork, seafood and tofu.  Enjoy our five recos below and feel free to suggest your own too.

Wave Thai - Tofu in spicy brown sauce with Japanese eggplant, bell peppers, basil, chili and scallions
21-37 31st Street, Astoria.  718.777.6789

Thai Elephant - Chicken, potato curry puff in a fried pastry crust, served with fresh cucumber salad
21-09 31st Street, Astoria.  718.204.8827

Bangkok Tasty - Sweet and sour shrimp with cherry tomatoes, onions, pineapple, cucumber, carrots & sweet pepper
29-06 23rd Avenue, Astoria.  718.545.8203

Leng Thai - Crispy vegetarian egg rolls served with a side of sweet and sour sauce
33-09 Broadway, Astoria.  718.956.7117

SHI - Seafood tom yum soup with noodles - "an awesome combination of spice, fire and flavor"
47-20 Center Blvd, Long Island City.  347.242.2450

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Astorian Weekend Edition 28.01.10

It’s going to be a chiller this weekend, so you might as well plan your activities inside.  Good thing – there’s a lot of fun stuff going on that doesn’t involve being out in the cold.

This Friday, say good-bye to the old Café Bar (pictured above) and get ready to welcome a new and improved version next month. Starting at
8 p.m. Café Bar will host a celebration in honor of its upcoming renovations.  The café will re-open in about a month, so get your last fix (for a while) this Friday with great music, drinks and complimentary appetizers. 32-90 36th Avenue, Astoria.  718.204.5273

Also on Friday, check out the first ever Far Out Festival, sponsored by Astoria Music and Arts and the Stomp & Howl MovementProceeds go to a great cause—to benefit the victims of
Haiti.  Music acts will include Deep Sound Diver, Illimanjaro, James Call & Erotic Photo Hunt featuring Adrienne Efficiency, Michael Benedetto and more.  $5 cover.  Shillelagh Tavern – 47-22 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.728.9028

If you’re a wine gal or guy and enjoy the game of chess, check out Winegasm’s second Wine and Chess event on Saturday from
12 p.m. – 4 p.m. You’ll want to try their homemade Istrian delicacy called “Fritule,” which they make on the premises.  31-86 37th Street, Astoria.  718.932.3331

Looking to unwind this weekend? Here are some of my personal recommendations for a relaxing spa/salon day.  
Natura Spa has a full offering of spa and salon services and even some special treatments such as hydrotherapy.  Spa Hydra’s 55 minute Swedish massage is great – although pricey, the atmosphere is as serene as it gets. SPAce’s haircuts are great and not too expensive.  I recommend Rudy!   Natura Spa – 31-24 Steinway Street, Astoria.  718.956.5530.  Spa Hydra – 35-11 36th Street, Long Island City.  718.267.7991.  SPAce – 29-09 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria.  718.726.4477.

And last but certainly not least, there’s brunch!  Try something new with Ornella’s brunch, which officially rolls-out this Saturday.  Enjoy interesting brunch dishes such as potato pancakes with pancetta, nutella-filled crepes and also traditional food such as eggs and paninis. YUM29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria.  718.777.9477

Speaking of paninis, you can also check out Il Bambino, which now serves brunch.  There are 12 new paninis on the menu and most of them include the incredible, edible egg. Double
YUM34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria.  718.626.0087

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2 Astorian Quirks to Brighten Your Day

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling

There are two stories recently featured in the Gothamist and the Huffington Post about Astoria's little quirks that we love so much.  One is a feature about our "Scum River Bridge" on 33rd Street under the Hell Gate Bridge, where a make-shift bridge has been built out of recycled materials to aid pedestrians in crossing the street and avoiding ummm let's just say...scum.

And the other is about our dear beloved French Bulldog, Oskar - aka the mascot and the "face" of The Jumping Bulldog pet boutique, headed by Tanja Firrigno. 

Enjoy the articles and make sure to check both of these Astorian quirks out. One is cute and fuzzy and the other not so much, but it'll make you laugh.

Astoria Scum Bridge
Oskar: The Fabulous Frenchie King

Monday, January 25, 2010

So I've heard...

KrisTEES was recognized on stage by Mayor Bloomberg in his State of the City speech last week (video). Congrats to Kristie Foster and her lovely boutique on 23rd Ave.

The new Lebanese place on 31st Street is gaining quite a following after only being open a short time. Haddad's is serving tasty food at great prices. From one Astorian, "Apparently the place was packed, and there was a bit of a line out the door."

Rèst Âü Ránt finally has a new website:

Il Bambino is now serving brunch, with new menu items, including about 12 new panini, most containing egg. They've also put together some new cheese plates, sourced from Murray's. Come by for a taste of some rare and amazing cheeses from around the world, and some interesting new sandwiches.

After my two most recent meals at Sweet Afton, I can say without a doubt, that their burger is the best in Astoria, having surpassed my previous favorite from Sparrow. As you know, too, Sweet Afton is serving brunch, and the burger is served with an egg, which is totally yummy. More about that later.

According to their newsletter, Winegasm is putting together Wine and Chess gatherings on Saturdays from 12-4pm. Coffee and free pastries apparently are in the mix.

LIC gets screwed by the MTA. In MTAspeak:
"No 7 trains between Times Sq and Queensboro Plaza. The N, Q, S and free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Weekends, 11:30 PM Fri to 5 AM Mon, Jan 29 - Feb 1."
Actually, reports say that service will be suspended on 10 weekends, total, so that's a PITA for 7 train riders until the first weekend in April.  If you can get yourself to LIC by other ways, I salute you.  The businesses there will need our support during this strange time.

Unfamiliar and mysterious fast food is coming to Astoria:  Texas-based Wingstop and California-based Submarina California Subs (never heard of them, says this native Californian) will be here soon.

Vesta is holding a Super Bowl Sunday event! YUM. Judith posts over on The Foodista: "They're having a celebration in honor of the big game, including a special "gametime menu," raffles and opportunities to win prizes including Vesta, Sweet Afton, Locale and Hell Gate Social gift certificates, as well as a dinner with me, your Foodista."

These bunny pillows over on SITE are the cutest!!

Pljeskavica in Astoria

Last week, the New York Times published a piece on pljeskavica, a burger that is prevalent throughout the Balkans. It can be had right here in Astoria, and how! I have never had one, personally, but it sure sounds delicious. I am going to have to try it now.

The Balkan Burger Unites All Factions

So, if you are looking for a taste of home, or looking to taste something new yet familiar, this sounds about right. There are a number of places where you can find it here in town, according to the article:

Brothers Pizzeria
30-50 14th Street
(718) 777-1111

Cevabdzinica Sarajevo
37-18 34th Avenue
(718) 752-9528

31-01 31st Street
(718) 726-0230

Stari Most (Old Bridge)
28-51 42nd Street
(718) 932-7683

Image CC: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finally Fridays - Best Coffee

Happy, happy Friday everyone!  In this edition of our fun little franchise, we'd like to chat about brew - as in coffee. Who has the best cup of that much needed morning jolt?  Here are our top 5 picks - enjoy them this weekend for brunch, and as always, let us know your thoughts.

Athens Cafe - Nescafe - hot, comforting version of the frappe. It's nice & strong with a lot of foam on top.
32-07 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.626.2164

Avenue Cafe - The Freddo - ultra, cold and refershing - strong enough to wake you on the toughest of days.
35-27 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.278.6967

Sweetleaf Cafe - Sweet little cappuccino with a heart shaped foam design.  The coffee is from Stumptown. Need I say more?
10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City.  917.832.6726

Vesta - "A great cup of coffee. It was bitter yet smooth, with chocolate notes within," Meg says.
21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.545.5550

Zenon Taverna - A strong cup of Greek coffee helps you digest a hearty meal from this homey eatery.
34-10 31st Avenue, Astoria.  718.956.0133