Astoria Restaurant Week launched with a party at Astoria Bank, where several of the nearly 50 participating restaurants offered guests a preview of what will be on offer from September 19 through 28. If you’re curious about exploring this international neighborhood’s culinary landscape, pick up a pass, which nets you special deals as well as prix fixe lunches and dinners. Astoria’s a haven for enthusiastic eaters, thanks to micro-neighborhoods like Little Egypt, rustic Greek spots that have been around for ages, and dozens of newcomers each season; here are your best bets for dining well this week.
New York Dog House, 37-06 30th Avenue, 718-274-3647
We were impressed with the brats from New York Dog House, a restaurant that opened last year. The veggie dog, made from farro and vegetables, was surprisingly substantial, topped with bright tomato confit and creamy tzatziki. On the more sinful end of the spectrum, the Cowboy, a cheddar-filled bratwurst further enriched with caramelized onions and bacon, was a decadent end-of-the-night bite.
Off the Hook Raw Bar & Grill, 28-08 34th Street, 718-721-2112
Extend the summer by slurping a dozen Blue Point oysters or littleneck clams at this slightly under-the-radar seafood spot, located on a quiet residential block. Or try the Maine lobster roll, unencumbered by any additions except for a welcome lemon-mayo, which dresses generous hunks of fresh lobster. It goes well with a gin fizz — or a pumpkin beer, if you’re ready to get autumnal.
William Hallet, 36-10 30th Avenue, 718-269-3443
A 30th Avenue standby named after a 17th-century businessman who once owned much of Astoria, William Hallet offers eclectic American food — at the launch party, it served skewers of cubed watermelon with feta croutons and homemade whoopie pies for dessert. Chef George Rallis, who recently appeared on an episode of Chopped, stays inventive and globally influenced on the dinner menu, with appetizers like chickpea fries with sesame yogurt, and a famous turducken meatloaf, served with bacon on an onion roll.
Trattoria L’Incontro, 21-76 31st Street, 718-721-3532
We recently visited this family-owned, special-occasion Italian restaurant,
whose longevity in ever-changing northwest Queens speaks to chef and owner Rocco Sacramone’s innovation and passion for food. Each night’s voluminous list of specials
overwhelms, but try to sample a classic, like the mezzaluna ravioli or a veal chop, and something new, like an appetizer of yellowtail carpaccio wrapped around kumquats.
Zenon Taverna , 34-10 31st Avenue, 718-956-0133
The Papageorgiou family, originally from Cyprus, has owned the Greek-Cypriot Zenon Taverna for over 25 years, and they turn out Cypriot meze like tarama, potatoes mashed with briny carp roe caviar, grilled halloumi cheese drizzled with lemon juice, and perfectly charred lamb meatballs, seasoned with plenty of fresh parsley and garlic. For Astoria Restaurant Week, the place offers a $25 prix fixe lunch and a $35 prix fixe dinner; otherwise, the grilled octopus, with a side of lemon potatoes, is a good bet.