San Francisco? Nah, Good old Queens, baby!

So I have the “luxury” of living in Astoria, Queens. Living here is luxury in that it is technically still New York City, I am close enough to Manhattan to enjoy it but I can escape the heroin addicts and endless groups of tourists when I want. I lived in Manhattan for 2 years while going to NYU, and decided that I had to get out. There’s only so much of the homeless people, vomit and urine smells one can take. And on top of that, Manhattan can be a scene-y world of skinny models and bankers with blue collared shirts. If you ask me, the real culture is in the neighborhoods where the communities are preserved and you feel like you’re in another place.

My neighborhood in Astoria is Italian and Greek. And I love that I benefit from my Mediterranean neighbors. The neighborhood is dotted with Greek cafes, serving the most bitter coffee you’ll ever drink and tons of little spots where you have to either speak Italian or Greek to order anything. There are Italian bakeries where you can get fresh-baked bread and cannolis that are filled on the spot. The food is the most authentic outside of visiting those countries, because many times the people who come over to America use food to preserve memories of home. The care that is put into the food to make it authentic makes it amazing.

I also have the great fortune of living above my Sicilian landlord, who sends food up occasionally, and scoffs whenever she sees a delivery man in the building, lamenting how we should all cook more, because “it’s easy.”

There are some great places to visit in Astoria, if you want to get a real taste of authentic, true to its roots Mediterranean food:

Kyklades (Greek) – This place has amazing seafood and tzatziki. There is so much garlic in the tzatziki that it can burn your tongue. I love it. Try the shepherd’s salad – a real Greek salad with cucumbers, feta, red onions and tomatoes. NO lettuce. The whole fish there is super fresh, which makes sense due to the Greek fisherman’s roots.

Trattoria L’Incontro (Italian) – Nearly perfect Italian food. The manager’s name is Vinnie, and the chef’s name is Rocco. Need I say more? There are typically 20-30 “specials” that the waiters spit off from memory. Try the amazing lobster and mint in pink sauce over fresh pasta. Amazing.

Artopolis (Greek) – Super cute bakery. They have every kind of Greek pastries you can think of. Little cookies with nuts, custard-y tarts and baklava. There’s seating for coffee and pastries, if you can get a seat from the Greek men who sit there all day. Literally.

Rose and Joe’s (Italian) – This bakery makes fresh bread daily, and will fill cannolis as you order them, as it should be. They don’t take credit cards and will wrap your box with those traditional red and white strings.

Cassinelli Pasta (Italian) – Amazing homemade pasta. They service restaurants in Queens and Manhattan, and are open strange hours, but you can buy fresh pasta and sheets for ravioli. And I did. My sister got me a ravioli maker for my bridal shower (Love you Hayley, for that!) Trattoria L’Incontro uses their pasta for their dishes, and it is divine.

Rosarios (Italian) – The real Rosario is ever-present in this deli, where Italian imported products are abundant. They sell fresh Pecorino, which they will grate for you there. The deli guys all speak in Italian, and will serve up refrigerated olives, meatballs and calamari for you to take home.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

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