December 18, 2017

I spy Astoria food scene

Let’s talk about restaurants.  First off let me say that, Yes, I am a chef and yes the food matters.  BUT it is not all about the food.  It is not the scene or the atmosphere or the “farm to table” thing that does it for me.  You too(?) perhaps.   It is the people who really make it.

Our local restaurants here in Astoria really stand out in this category.  These are the places I have started writing about and will continue to share more stories in the coming months.

Many of our best places are run by people who care about more than the bottom line.  These people are part of the community.  They work in the “arts” or do community work.  Others simply put their life and love into every dish that comes out of the kitchen.  That is why their food tastes so good. A few names come to mind, Evan at the Queens Kickshaw, Chris at The Astor room and Piccola Venezia, Gary at Bistro 33 and William Hallet, Natasha at Bear, Darren at Il Bambino, Michelle at Sugar Freak.  Good people, family people, community people.  And oh yeah, their food kicks ass and can make you swoon.

And of course that owner or chef is nothing without the rock stars who work Front of house positions.  The barista who knows your name and drink, is playing the coolest music and can talk beer, economics and philosophy (The Queens Kickshaw).  Bartenders who can create the perfect Manhattan or Guiness pour and make you feel at home (Irish Rover, William Hallet, Sweet Afton).  Wait staff who will make you feel like a king or queen for the night (Ornella, Piccola Venezia, Loukoumi, Christos Steak House).  We all have our favorites here in Astoria and I bet it’s always something more than the food that does it for you.  Anyone who has ever dined at Kabab Cafe with Master Chef Ali El Sayed knows exactly what I mean.

Stay tuned for more and please send in your suggestions for future stories (restaurant, food market, bar, cafe) to