by Adam Kuban, 07/16/2013
Ovelia. Photo: Joe Buglewicz
If there’s one thing most New Yorkers know Astoria for, it’s the neighborhood’s Greek culture—especially its cuisine. A mainstay of the 30th Avenue dining scene, Ovelia is a neighborhood favorite and is perfect for brunch if you’re visiting in the late morning or early afternoon. Don’t-miss dishes include the house-made loukaniko, a Greek sausage, and the tiropita toast, the restaurant’s feta sandwich. On the northern end of Astoria in the Ditmars Boulevard area you’ll find Taverna Kyclades, which is renowned citywide for its traditional seafood dishes and draws crowds of destination diners. Try the grilled calamari or branzino and the lemon potatoes. The wait can be long; fortunately, the portions are large, so you can satisfy an appetite that’s had time to ripen. For lighter fare and vegetarians, the mixed-vegetable plate at nearby Telly’s Taverna is a great option—and for dessert every night except Saturday, the restaurant serves free loukoumades (essentially a fried doughnut, drizzled with honey).
The Greek food in Astoria ranges from classic to contemporary reinterpretations of the cuisine. Gyro is an iconic dish in this panoply, and BZ Grill serves what many consider to be the best in the City. BZ’s version is made from cuts of marinated pork stacked high on a rotating spit, which slowly roasts the meat, leaving it crisp and juicy. Bridging the gap between traditional Greek fare and the changing tastes of the neighborhood is MP Taverna, where chef Michael Psilakis serves simple-seeming dishes that are packed with flavor. The Greek meatballs, grilled octopus with chickpea salad and smashed fries have developed a following among locals.