Review of Tikka Roll House

I sat down at the new Tikka Roll House this past week with a craving for good Indian cuisine. I was not disappointed. It’s been open for a few months now, and I’ve been curious as to how their rolls were, since I had never had this type of dish. I first decided to try a good old fashioned samosa. I ordered the Aloo Gobi Samosas, and they were delicious. Crispy enough on the outside, and soft and flavorful on the inside. Along with the samosas, I was given a fried lentil bread appetizer with three dipping sauces. These come complimentary, and the sauces were delicious. A tamarind sauce, a sweet onion sauce, and a spicy cilantro option. I made sure to try each sauce with my samosas, and with the Anda Burji Roll. The roll was tasty as well. It had an inner fried egg rolled inside, and it made the chicken and veggies taste even better. I had never eaten an Indian-style roll before, and it was almost like a mixture between a wrap and a burrito. I loved it though. For my main dish, I asked for the traditional Chicken Tikka Masala, which I have tried at other establishments in Astoria. My server Irfan told me that their Masala was the best in Astoria. After trying it, I am very inclined to agree. It was a thick, creamy, and savory masala sauce. I could tell that it was made just for my order, where other restaurants might seem to have a large stock of it that they make in bulk. I was also given Murgh Vindaloo chicken to try. It was spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The Vindaloo also came with soft potatoes in the sauce along with the chicken. The rice was a good-size portion, and it also came with a small salad in the same bowl. Next up, they gave me the Gulab Jamun, which are fried milk balls in a sugary clear syrup. They were very good. It came with two of the milk balls, and a good portion of the syrup for dipping. Lastly, they gave me a mixture of small confection candy mixed with fennel and other seeds. It was a nice little extra dessert to end the meal. Overall, I left stuffed and very happy that there is another quality Indian place in the heart of Astoria. They deliver and seem to do pickup orders as well. The decor is funny and interesting, with old Bollywood posters hanging on the walls. The service was timely and everyone was very pleasant. I will definitely return.

Tikka Roll House, 34-14 30th Ave, (718) 255-1085,

Blink Fitness Launches New Ad Campaign with REAL Members, NOT Models

(From Blink Fitness)


Blink Fitness, the premium-quality, value-based gym, is kicking off the New Year with the launch of its 2017 ad campaign featuring 16 of Blink’s very own gym members—not models. While the rest of the fitness industry touts images of six-pack abs and lofty weight-loss goals, Blink is redefining aspiration by showcasing the real, diverse range of people who derive joy and confidence from exercise. From Celestino, who regained the ability to walk again at Blink, to Amy, a working mother of three, who maintains her health—and sanity—by making time for fitness, each and every member in the campaign exudes self-confidence with their own unique inspirations for feeling good and getting healthy.

One out of the 16 gym members was from the Queens area representing Blink Roosevelt!

The final members were selected following a brand-wide casting call via social media (a first for a gym) and an audition in front of a panel of influential “casting agents.” The panel included body-positivity advocates and Blink members Dascha Polanco, known for her role as Dayanara Diaz on Orange is the New Black, former NFL punter Steve Weatherford, and Blink Fitness personal trainer Sabine Milien. To audition, the members shared their fitness journeys and explained why they believe feeling good is the new looking good.

The goal of the 2017 campaign is to challenge industry norms and expand on Blink’s unique Mood Above Muscle™ philosophy, which celebrates the positive emotions you get from working out, not just the physical benefits. A survey commissioned by Blink Fitness and conducted online by Harris Poll last month showed the following sentiments, which illustrates that Blink is onto something greater.

• Roughly 8 out of 10 Americans (82%) say their relationship with their body could be improved
• Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they find it discouraging to work towards unrealistic body images they see in the media.
• Almost 9 in 10 Americans (89%) who currently work out at a gym feel more confident about themselves when they leave the gym than when they first walk in.

Check out a sneak peak video for the Blink casting call here!

Classes for Aspiring Writers at QED

Mike Sacks

Mike Sacks

There’s a debate that always seems to crop up amongst aspiring writers these days: Should you get an MFA, or move to NYC? The answer is usually inconclusive. But when people like prominent humor writer and Vanity Fair editor Mike Sacks offer classes for $40 a pop at QED in Astoria, it seems the NYC faction is starting to win out.

A few weeks ago I attended his class “Want to Write for Print? Sh*t You Gotta Know,” a two-hour session focused on writing humor and getting it published in print magazines. There were five other students in the class, some from Astoria, but others had traveled from further away—one guy even said he’d made the trek all the way from Crown Heights in Brooklyn. In the snow. Clearly, for him, this was sh*t you’ve really gotta know.

Sacks gave us invaluable advice, not only by providing tips on humor writing itself, but also by suggesting print and online magazines to submit to (like The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and, as well as listing names and email addresses of specific editors. He really made an effort to get to know each of us, talked a lot about the art of networking, and encouraged everyone to exchange emails and keep in touch. He even gave us his own contact info, so that we could reach out if we thought of any more questions. Which is risky, since for all he knows one of us might start emailing him obsessively. Most writers and writing teachers wouldn’t want to take that chance, but Sacks clearly wants to help new writers get ahead—no MFA required.

Sad you missed out on this class? Don’t be! Sacks will be holding another session at QED on March 13, 2017. Sign up here.

And check out these other QED classes for writers and comedians in early 2017:

Stephanie Grossman

BOAST Winners (Dec. 2016) by the Numbers

Number of categories in each section:
EAT: 17
DO & SEE: 11

Number of winners by location:
Astoria-Ditmars Blvd (N/W): 30
30th Ave (N/W): 18
Steinway St (M/R): 15
Broadway (N/W): 13
31st Ave: 7
Astoria Blvd (N/W): 6
Long Island City: 5
36th Ave (N/W): 4

Winners with multiple locations in Astoria:
Astoria Bier & Cheese: 2
Bareburger: 2
Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company: 2
Create: 2
New York City Bagel & Coffee House: 2
Starbucks: 5

Number of unique winners:

Winners in multiple categories:
4: The Astor Room (1st place-3, 2nd place-1)
4: Sek’end Sun (2nd-2, 3rd-2)
3: Mosaic Craft Beer, Cocktail & Wine Bar (1st-1, 3rd-2)
3: The Queens Kickshaw (2nd-1, 3rd-2)
3: William Hallet (2nd-1, 3rd-2)
2: Jujube Tree (1st-2)
2: Martha’s Country Bakery (1st-2)
2: Q.E.D. (1st-2)
2: Sanfords (1st-2)
2: Sunswick 35/35 (1st-2)
2: 60 Beans (1st-1, 2nd-1)
2: Grand Cafe (1st-1, 2nd-1)
2: Museum of the Moving Image (1st-1, 2nd-2)
2: Bareburger (2nd-2)
2: Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery (2nd-2)
2: New York City Bagel & Coffee House (2nd-1, 3rd-1)
2: Zbar Astoria (2nd-1, 3rd-1)
2: Create (3rd-1, Write-in)

BOAST results (Dec. 2016) have been published!

As the Q train (to start going up 2nd Avenue on Jan. 1!) has been replaced by the W train in Astoria, so too have the results on this site. There are also new photos in the slideshows at the tops of the pages, and new Featured BOAST Locations as well.

There were a number of close calls and ties from this survey, so we had to do first-hand research to determine who should make it onto the site. We would like to thank those who came along with us as we did this research, and we want to thank everyone who filled out the survey. (Congratulations to those who won a prize.)

Please check out the EAT, DRINK, DO & SEE, and LOCATION pages to get detailed information about all the businesses and locations, but if you would like a list of the winners in one place, see this post.

Finally, we like hearing from you. Agree or disagree about the results? Have comments about the site or social media channels? Want to contribute writing or photography? Email

List of BOAST winners (Dec. 2016)

List of BOAST: Best of Astoria winners (December 2016)

Best American:
1. Sanfords
2. The Queens Kickshaw
3. William Hallet

Best Bakery
1. Martha’s Country Bakery
2. Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery
3. Leli’s Bakery

Best Brunch
1. Sanfords
2. Grand Cafe
3. (tie) Gastroteca Astoria
3. (tie) William Hallet

Best Budget
1. King of Falafel & Shawarma
2. Arepas Cafe
3. St. James Deli

Best Burger
1. Burger Club
2. Bareburger
3. Sweet Afton (more…)

Much Needed Comedy on a Cold Night: Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t


Morgan Pielli and Lynn Bixenspan

Q.E.D. is exactly the type of venue Astoria has always needed. It’s a place that advocates for the arts by offering classes, events, shows—and most importantly, comedy.

This past Friday night, my boyfriend and I braved the below-freezing temperatures (well okay, we took a heated Uber) and went out to see Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t, an irreverent comedy show featuring adult themes and a live therapy session. Ironically, the two of us got into a slight disagreement on the way there, and I couldn’t help hoping that a show making light of relationship issues might help us laugh it off.

Relationsh*t is hosted by comedians Lynn Bixenspan and Morgan Pielli, who aren’t in a romantic relationship but who do have great comedic chemistry. I could’ve easily listened to their banter for the entire show. The theme of the night was “dating,” though Relationsh*t’s stories can be about any type of relationship: friendship, familyship (is that even a word?), even one’s relationship with pooping—which they apparently covered last time. After the introductions and some gripes about their online dating woes, Lynn and Morgan brought out a series of guests who had each prepared a hilarious true story about their own dysfunctional dating experiences.

First up was Selena Coppock, who told a story about going on a few dates with a guy that she eventually broke it off with because she wasn’t sexually attracted to him. Then a year or two later, she was chosen to act in a commercial he was directing, and his sudden authoritativeness made her swoon. They ended up having a spicy meeting that Halloween–her being dressed as Sexy Duck Dynasty probably helped.

Next Nick Padilla told a story about being chosen to act in a student-directed play where the stage directions basically were [Make out. Take off clothes]. When he met his co-star, he was instantly attracted to her, but she made it clear that she wasn’t into him at all. Plus she had a boyfriend. In spite of all that, Nick was delighted to find that their rehearsal sessions started pushing the boundaries more and more. When they finally performed in front of a crowd, which included the girl’s boyfriend, she actually gave Nick a hand job on stage. Nick was expecting the boyfriend to punch him out, but after the show the boyfriend bounded up to him, shook his hand, and said, “I’m so proud of you guys! Great job!”

The last storyteller was Myka Fox, who received therapy live on stage from two licensed therapists (who also happen to be comedians). She confessed to the audience that she’s with a really great guy, but said that he clearly loves her more than she loves him, and his complaints about her lack of empathy are starting to make her wonder if she’s a psychopath. (She’d like to think she’s just a terrible girlfriend.) The therapists told her that she’s pulling away because of a fear of intimacy, and that if she does love him, she needs to go out of her way to show it by doing things like asking about his day—which Myka wasn’t too happy about. The therapists concluded that Myka isn’t a psychopath, but should definitely be in therapy.

Needless to say, my boyfriend and I had a great time seeing Relationsh*t and would gladly go again. It was full of honest jokes and it pushed the boundaries, like all good comedy shows should. It also lightened our mood. As we traveled home together, we apologized, talked through our disagreement, and felt thankful—very thankful—that our relationship isn’t half as crazy as the ones we’d just heard about.

Q.E.D.’s Relationsh*t runs every second Friday of the month at 9:30 p.m.

Stephanie M. Grossman

Review of Repeater: A Little Show About Big Songs


On a rainy Tuesday, I went to check out Repeater: A Little Show About Big Songs at QED here in Astoria. I have seen a few shows at QED before, but this one was new to me. Comedians Evan Barden and Pat Cartelli host a  monthly discussion about a single song that their monthly guest loves and cherishes. They go on to discuss the history behind the guests’ love of the song, as well as their personal history. The original guest comedian Jo Firestone had to cancel at the last minute, but the replacement guest Courtney Maginnis confidently stepped in.

The show began with the three comedians talking about a band that they’ve been obsessed with lately. There was some funny banter about Hamilton and Solange Knowles’ new album, to which Courtney is a huge fan. Her personal song turned out to be “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. Her quirky story about her family gatherings at a beach house was relatable to anyone who has one side of the family that might party a bit too hard. The song was played for the audience just in case anyone was unfamiliar with the classic tune. Whistling was involved!

Courtney, Evan and Pat then talked about their varying experiences as comedians, and we got to learn a little more about them. The whole show is recorded as a live podcast, so the audience is treated to a conversational show. As self deprecating as the comedians were, you could tell they definitely have a passion for music and their craft. It was interesting to learn about these people, as well as their families and even personal struggles. Their stories made me laugh quite a bit, as well as some of the awkward silences. It’s all part of the show, and I have to give the hosts props for dealing with last-minute guest changes.

After the funny conversation, the audience was treated to singer/songwriter Anielle Reid. She came on stage with a banjo, and played a few great soulful songs. Her banjo picking was flat-out great, and her voice is phenomenal. She deserved all the applaud she received. At the end of the show, a few prizes were given out, including an LP and some Otis Redding stickers. Overall this was a fairly entertaining show, and I have to give thanks to the hosts being so positive on a fairly rainy night, and with a less than expected turnout. I would definitely recommend it if you’re a music fan.

You can look up future shows of Repeater at, and on their twitter account


Review of Evensong


Putting a Human Face on Homelessness. Lisa Huberman on Evensong by Christina Quintana at Astoria Performing Arts Center.

What is poverty supposed to look like? And how do you recover your sense of worth when your life fails to live up to its potential, even if you have followed all of the rules the American Dream assures will lead to success? These are the central questions that animate Christina Quintana’s Evensong, the raw yet tender drama of homelessness in New York City, brought to vivid life at The Astoria Performing Arts Center.

In Evensong, we follow Teofilo “Teo” Aguilar (Daniel Prado), a Texas transplant to New York who has found himself checking into a homeless shelter after a string of bad luck. As an educated, clean-cut bank teller, Teo does not think of himself as a typical homeless person. He is definitely, he believes, of a different class and species from, say, the cagey Gladys (Marie Louise Guinier), who obsesses over the hot water kettle and absurdly demands a vegetarian option at their subsidized shelter meal. The tension between Teo’s financial circumstances and his self-identity remain a tension throughout the play. He may flirt with the shelter volunteer Bob (Chad Castarphen), and yet his role as a resident of the facility draws an invisible line between their chemistry. At his job for Bank of America, Teo has to scramble to make up excuses to his co-worker Haque (Sai Somboon) for why he can’t come out drinking and drags a suitcase everywhere. And yet at the same time, the second-hand suit he wears to his job at Bank of America signals to the homeless man on the subway (Doug Rossi) that he is an asshole for not giving him any money.

All of this could have the potential to descend into melodrama, but Quinana’s script and David Mendizábal’s direction zero in on the ferocity of the characters’ pain while never sentimentalizing it. (more…)

Review of sLICe


There’s a new pizza place in Astoria that definitely deserves your attention. The Long Island City pizza joint sLICe has opened up a second location on 30th Avenue in Astoria, and it is a much welcomed addition to the already great pizza scene. The inside of sLICe is very warm and welcoming. Its bright white interior meshes well with its red chairs and signs. Almost a mozzarella and sauce combination of color. New hip-hop was playing quietly from the speakers, and gave the interior a fun and loose vibe. There are five two-person tables to sit down and devour whichever pizza option you choose. And there are quite a number of options. I was given the opportunity to try five different slices, and it was very hard to choose a favorite.

I first bit into the classic Margherita slice. The cheese and sauce were perfectly portioned, and the fresh basil added the always delicious kick. The crust they use also has a very nice garlic taste to it. Usually when I get a Margherita slice somewhere, it hardly has any garlic flavor whatsoever. This was a nice change. I loved it.

Next up, I tried a classic NY slice. Again, the cheese and sauce ratio was great, and it was nicely crunchy on the bottom, yet still perfectly foldable. The perfect slice on the go.

I then tried the white ricotta slice. It wasn’t flavored with too much garlic, so I actually tasted the ricotta and cheese a lot more than some other white pies I’ve had. Definitely a good choice if you’re tired of the ol’ tomato sauce pizza.

The Sicilian slice was a mouthful. The crust is pre-baked, then topped with sauce and cheese, and then cooked again to make it even crispier. It was a little too doughy for me, but still absolutely delicious. It was nice that I could see the top of the dough was brown, so you could definitely tell that it had really been baked for the first time without any sauce or cheese on it.

My favorite slice was probably the grandma slice. It has the plum cherry tomato sauce that comes on the Margherita, but shape-wise, it’s like a smaller, thinner Sicilian slice. It was the perfect combination of the sauce, cheese, and dough. It had a perfectly crisp bottom, and a buttery crust that I absolutely loved.

The other options at sLICe include a great looking pepperoni slice, and even mini-calzones. They also have a large menu of subs and entrées. I look forward to going back to sLICe and trying a little bit of everything. Although it’ll be hard not to get at least one grandma slice every time I go back.

sLICe is located at 37-08 30th Ave, 718-606-9258