Chef-owner Alexander Dimitrov hopes guests will come to Trakia (38-14 30th Avenue, Astoria, 347-813-4709), which opened last week in Astoria, for the organic pizza and then return for one of his authentic Mediterranean dishes roasted in the brick oven.
Dimitrov is no newcomer to the industry — he is the owner of Menhanata on the Lower East Side. Here at Trakia, though, he has no aspirations of creating a Bulgarian night club and vodka tasting den. Rather, he’d like to bring organic, authentic, casual Mediterranean cooking to 30th Avenue, serving up his wood-fired dishes in a relaxed setting with a somewhat eccentric atmosphere.
He’s outfitted the space with much of his own woodwork, as well as a hand sculpted aquarium built into the wall to showcase a mosaic of tchotchkes, which range from a miniature Tinker Bell figurine to a manger scene with Mary and Joseph to the three wise monkeys perched at the top.
Marijan Begani heads up the pizza station, where entree and dessert pies are topped with everything from homemade pockets of chicken ravioli to nutella, grapes, and a blend of berries. He’s making a caesar salad pizza and a taco pizza, too, and manager Ajdin “AJ” Dracic says that the kitchen will continue to innovate. “We have a lot more ideas we want to try out,” he chuckles.
But there are also a number of dishes on the list that hail from Dimitrov’s native Bulgaria. Take the baked Bulgarian shopska salads — like a Greek salad topped with creamy feta and a whole egg — which come in stoneware dishes. Or the lahmacun flatbread and pides topped and filled with a variety of ground meats, including the traditional lamb. Or the whole eggplant and butternut squash lightly brushed with oil, dusted with salt, and slowly roasted near the open flames. Or the sasljik (shish kabobs), which arrive on a wooden stand that displays the grilled meat and vegetables like dueling swords.
This stretch of 30th Avenue has a pizzeria on just about every block. “But no one else is selling organic, gluten free options,” explains Dracic. “Ideally, we want to be accessible to everybody.”