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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weekend Edition 20.01.10

New year, new amazing things to do in Astoria!

Try something a little different this Thursday at the Bohemian Hall. Trust us, This Is All Made Up is a well known improv troupe’s long form play- an unusual take on the usually fast paced impromptu comedy form. Have a drink and see some hilarious improv comedy right here in Astoria.

On Friday, don’t miss Astoria Wine and Spirit's Friday Night Wine Tasting featuring three delicious (and affordable!) wines as well as the opening of their gallery show by artist Maki Teshima. Tastings start at 6:30 and ends around 9:30.

Astoria staple, Brick Café, is shaking things up on Saturdays with a new night of music by DJs Eve & Demetri. Music starts at 9:30. Or! Try their new Jazz Nights every Wednesday. Also happening this Saturday is the first annual Astoria Nacho Crawl. Join the folks at Nachos NY on a journey across Astoria- in search of nachos! Some of the restaurants include Tacos Mexico, D’ricuras, and Lunas. For more info, contact Space is limited.

We hear there’s a new Lebanese place near Ditamars called Haddad's (22-47 31st St.). There is already a great early buzz about the place. If you are in the area give it a try, the falafel, pickled beets, and cheese balls with chopped veggies and herbs all sound delightful! Also new at the Ditmars stop is a great new yoga/palliates studio called Creative Vibrations, right in the shopping center attached to the Ditmars N/W stop. Some of their classes include The Body Class on Tuesdays 9:15-10:15pm and Thursdays 12:15-1:15pm and 9:15-10:15pm. Mention you read about this on Joey’s and get the class for only $10!

On Sunday, try taking the little ones to the brand new Sunday Chess School!
Classes will be taught by a national chess champ and will be held on Sundays, 10am-12pm, for children ages 5+. More at

Petey's Burger Gets Some Props

Image by

I was delighted when I saw the subject of yesterday's Tasting Table e-newsletter, "Burger Brawl."  Looking at the above picture hungrily, I inspected it closer to find out that they were talking about our very own Petey's Burger.  How cool! I always love when our wonderful Astorian gems get recognized and in this Tasting Table review, Petey's gets some good props.  Take a look at the complete review, but in a nutshell, Petey's is praised for excellent quality meat, with a business model not unlike the famous West Coast chain, IN-N-OUT burger.  If you haven't yet checked them out, now would be a good time - enjoy!

Petey's Burger - 30-17 30th Avenue, Astoria NY 11102
N/W Train to 30th Avenue

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pinot Noir Tasting at Vine Wine

Tomorrow during their weekly tasting time, Vine Wine is showcasing one of my favorite varietals - the Pinot Noir.  From their email:

Pinot Noir is the famed varietal of Burgundy and is responsible for fabulous and sometimes expensive wine. Although known to be a temperamental grape, it happens to do quite well in other regions of the world, producing lovely, character driven wine. This Wednesday's tasting will feature 3 very different Pinot Noirs, from vastly different wine producing regions. It's always fun to taste them in succession to compare the varying styles.
  • Wallace Brook
  • Domaine Brunet
  • Leyda
The tasting is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Vine Wine
12-09 Jackson Ave
Long Island City

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finally Fridays - Best Pasta

TGIF!  This edition of Finally Fridays features one of my favorite foods, pasta.  I love it for its versatility and creativity of preparation - here are 5 of our top picks that you can enjoy this weekend, or anytime for that matter.  Let us know what you think - and as always, share with us your personal picks.

Da Franco - Ravioli Al Profumo di Tartufo, with mushrooms, cheese and truffle oil cream sauce
23-92 21st Street, Astoria.  718.267.0010

Vesta - Lasagna, baked with a crusty top, with 3 meat ragu
21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.545.5550

Trattoria L'Incontro - A humongous plate of spaghetti with shrimp and porcini mushrooms 
21-76 31st Street, Astoria.  718.721.3532

Ornella - The "imbustata," a pasta envelope stuffed with roasted veal, chicken, wild mushrooms, homemade mozzarella, spinach, mascarpone cheese and fresh tomato sauce. Oh my!
29-17 23rd Avenue, Astoria.  718.777.9477

Manetta's - Linguini neri, fresh black linguini with slightly spicy tomato sauce and jumbo shrimp
10-76 Jackson Avenue, LIC.  718.786.6171

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Astorian Weekend Edition, 14.01.10

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend!  I envy you lucky ducks that get Monday off.  This is a great weekend to relax and enjoy your time away from the office, and remember what this man did for our country.

On Monday, the MOMI has a bunch of great stuff going on that appeals to both kids and adults.  Be sure to check out the video games while you're there, one of the coolest parts of the place, IMO.

This weekend is a good opportunity to stop by KrisTEES (24-01 23rd Avenue) to check out their big winter sale. Save from 25-60% off on coats, dresses, blouses, handbags, and lots more. Ethereal Boutique (47-38 Vernon Boulevard, 1L) is also having a sale this weekend, with party dresses, winter merchandise, and furnishings available.

At Parrot Market on Ditmars (31-12 Ditmars Blvd), they receive a delivery of a very delicious Romanian sweet bread every Friday. It's a yeasted bread dough with a swirl of walnuts and chocolate inside. Really delicious, and at $9.99 it's a special treat. It's especially good toasted with butter. If you can stop by for a loaf, I highly recommend it. While you're there, take a peek at the cured meat products in the back refrigerator, the olive bar, and the homemade phyllo pastries.

On Saturday, the weather is supposed to be stellar, temperature-wise. I've been running in Astoria Park this week, and have loved seeing the amazing sunrises we've had. It should be nice enough for a brisk walk with a friend - and bring your dog with you if you'd like to socialize with other dog owners, as Saturday mornings are filled with dogs romping around (supervised by their humans, of course).

Brunch is coming to Sweet Afton (30-09 34th Street)! I was fortunate enough to be invited for a preview of their brunch last weekend, and it was awesome. I'll post more about it later, but for now, take a look at Judith's rundown of a wonderful new brunch menu in the neighborhood.

Monday, January 11, 2010


In the latest email blast from the Museum of the Moving Image, they indicated they will be open on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is on Monday, January 18. A lot of kids are home that day (alas, I am not), so the Museum is providing a number of distractions. From the email:
The Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, January 18 and will present screenings of the animated African folk tale Kirikou and the Sorceress and workshops for children.
The Schedule:

Kirikou and the Sorceress
In Tut's Fever Movie Palace
January 18
12 and 2 p.m.
1998, 74 mins. Directed by Michel Ocelot. English-language version.
In this exuberant and charming animated feature, based on an African fairy tale, an indomitable young boy wills himself to be born, and battles an evil sorceress. The film has vibrant colors, and a lyrical musical score by Youssou N’Dour. Suitable for all ages. Contains innocent nudity.

Moving Pictures Workshop
January 18
12:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m.
Ages 6-12. 45 mins.
Children discover what makes moving images move and make their own Thaumatrope—a nineteenth-century optical toy—to take home. Materials fee: $5 per child / Free for Museum members. Space is limited; register when you arrive at the Museum.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Watch Out - Someone May Have Their Eye on You

Image by

My brother just passed on a curious link called N Train Gossip.  It's a twitter page that displays user-submitted photos, showcasing N Train etiquette offenders or just people doing some strange ol' things.  Exhibit a - The Nosepicker.  Exhibit b - The Eater.  Exhibit c - The Mickey Mouse enthusiast.  And so on...I think you get the point.

So next time you're riding our beloved N train, make sure you're on your best behavior.  Or misbehave on purpose and get your 15 minutes of fame.  Enjoy and spread the word.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Astorian Weekend Edition 07.01.10

Happy New Year everyone! Now that the crazy partying is wrapped up, here are some low-key happs to enjoy this weekend.

Attend the Visioneers premiere at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden this Thursday at 8 p.m.  The event is hosted by the Astoria Indies, a new indie film group in Queens that will bring you a different movie screening each Thursday at this venue.  If you don’t catch this week’s, you can always come back another time. 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria.  718.274.4925

Still holding on to your Christmas tree? You can put it to good use by recycling it at this year’s Mulchfest, Saturday and Sunday in Astoria Park from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m..  Just take all ornaments off and you’ll be all set – they’ll even let you indulge in some free mulch! Have fun, meet new people and benefit the environment.  19th Street and Hoyt Avenue, Astoria.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably indulged a lot this holiday season, and are looking to hit the gym.  A lot of them are holding introductory specials with $0 down.  My personal favorite, New York Sports Clubs is free to join until February 1st and The Rock is also offering $0 initiation, 2 free personal training sessions and the entire month of January free.  NYSC - 38-11 30th Avenue, Astoria.  718.932.1400. The Rock22-15 31st Street, Astoria.  718.204.1400

On another healthy note, check out Mackenzi’s 7 great recommendations for veggie eats in Astoria.  From Mundo (carrot dip pictured above) to Vesta to Bare Burger, you’ll find nifty tips on how to eat healthy and meat free. 

The Noguchi Museum
is holding an interesting-sounding discussion this Sunday at 3 p.m. about Sculpture in the Landscape.  The talk will focus on land art, specific works and the various issues that come up when exhibiting sculpture in the open air. Sounds like a useful event for an inspiring artist or an aficionado.  9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City718.204.7088

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mundo Closed on Wednesdays

You read it right - Mundo will be closed on Wednesdays this year.  It's a most delicious place, highly recommended!  They do great work, and deserve a day off.

By the way, here is the link to Mundo's reservation page.  And here is the link to La Papa.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Astoria Indies - Visioneers at the Beer Garden

Thanks to the weekly email I got today from The Q Note, I learned about Astoria Indies, "the new home of indie film in Queens" (FB)  Sounds promising!  They've declared January to be "funny month", so that must mean comedies are on deck.

The physical home of Astoria Indies is the Bohemian Beer Garden (29-19 24th Avenue), and their first film this month is the 2008 dark comedy Visioneers, starring Zach Galifinakis (The Hangover) and Judy Greer (Arrested Development), directed by Jared Drake.

Tickets at $5 and you can buy them ahead here.  Following the screening, stick around for a performance by singer-songwriter Zach Hurd.

The film will show at 8 p.m. 

Monday, January 04, 2010

MulchFest 2010!

The Parks department is holding MulchFest again this year!
Bring your holiday tree to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city! Remember to remove all lights and ornaments before bringing the tree to a MulchFest site. You are encouraged to bring bags to take advantage of the free mulch provided.
In Astoria, Astoria Park is the location, and they'll be chipping there, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  This is a great event, and if you can bring your tree down, you'll be doing a good thing.

Veggie Friendly Eating in Astoria

It is that time for resolutions and changes and perhaps for some eating less meat or trying a vegetarian lifestyle is high on your list. I’ve spent the last 20 years eating veggie, and I love all the fantastic veg friendly eating establishments Long Island City and Astoria have to offer. Here are my top choices for a great veggie meal that doesn’t consist of an assortment of unsatisfying side dishes!

The Veggie Wrap with Pesto at Mundo, from Little Girl, Big Appetite


The jewel of healthy eating in Astoria! Choose from a wide variety of options including their perfect Red Sonjas, soups, dips and that hearty Veggie Wrap. Mundo has something in mind for every veggie, and their tapas style presentation means more to try, and less damage to the wallet. Plenty of vegan fare too, if that is more your thing. (31-18 Broadway)

As a rather strict vegetarian, I appreciate clear menu marking of which dishes are ok for me to consume, and Vesta does a brilliant job at this task. Their locally grown, seasonally appropriate ingredients are also a huge plus in my book. Check out their deliciously layered salads, those Crispy Parm Brussel Sprouts, and the great assortment of pizzas (with whole wheat crust, too!). (2102 30th Avenue)

Café Bar
Home of Mediterranean Café style cooking, Café Bar has lots to offer people looking to cut down on their meat consumption. A wide variety of soups, sandwiches and salads are prepared with organic and healthy eating in mind. The Lebanese Salad is a hearty, protein packed salad that won’t disappoint. Their Homemade Veggie Burgers are also a knock out and a welcome change from the ‘Garden Burgers’ that are ubiquitous at most restaurants. Looking for something a bit lighter? Café Bar also has a great selection of juice and smoothies. (32-90 36th Street)

Greek food and vegetarian eating don’t always go hand in hand, but this local favorite is actually quite veg friendly. The smoky Charcoaled Eggplant, Hummus, and Grilled Haloumi Cheese make quite the veggie feast, but the real stand out is their Horiatiki salad, a delicious Greek chopped salad with cabbage, cilantro, feta, olives, arugula, and a light lemon vinaigrette. (29-19 Broadway)

Bare Burger
Not surprisingly this organic burger joint has lots to offer non meat eaters. Their veggie patties are quite good and can be included on any of their fantastic combinations. Those looking for a change of pace should try their Portabella Burger option, bursting with flavor. Veggies will find lots of great salad and side options here too. (33 - 21 31st Avenue)

Fatty’s Café

A long time Astoria staple, Fatty’s has a great selection of non-meat options. Their ‘Make Your Own Salad’ offering is a great way to go- try the House Dressing, a smoky thick stunner. If you’re looking for something more substantial, their Grilled Veg with Hummus plate or Veggie Burrito with Mole sauce is always a winner. (25-01 Ditmars Blvd.)

An unusual choice, Rest-Au-Rant is the king of the cheese plate, that yummy veggie staple. This cozy Astoria bar/eatery has lots of cheese plates to choose from, often in differing sizes. Enjoy a pressed sandwich or salad with your glass of wine if that is more your speed. (30-01 35th Avenue)