On the first day of May, a drizzly one in Astoria, we went to Break Bar and Billiards to watch Game 1 of the Blazers vs. Warriors NBA Playoffs series. Break has 16 HD televisions, and from the table we were sitting at, we were able to watch the game on three screens. We tried two beers, and could have had many more as there are 18 on tap. We also shared the nachos, which was a huge plate of chips under many dips and melted cheese. We added chicken, and it was quite tasty.
Break is certainly a fun place to watch the game, grab a drink, and eat some bar food. But it seems the main thing that makes Break stand apart from other sports bars is its numerous games. There are two ping-pong tables, darts, pop-a-shot hoop, foosball, old arcades, shuffle board, many board games, and about half the space filled with pool tables (probably close to 15). We played a couple games of pool, Connect Four, and shuffle board. The basketball game turned out to be a blowout (can anyone stop the Warriors this year?), so it was great to have all the games to keep us entertained and having fun.
Break Bar & Billiards, 32-04 Broadway, Astoria, (718) 777-5400
We went to Trattoria L’Incontro for the first time last weekend, and there’s a reason it’s BOAST’s number one Italian Restaurant—it’s really really good. Before we get into the meal, we should mention that the service was superb. Our waiter knew the menu inside and out, and was able to tell us specials depending on what type of food we were most interested in. It may have been nice to see a list of all the specials, but we have a feeling it would have been longer than the actual menu, so it was fine to hear the abbreviated version. He did not write down our order and also got it right, which was impressive, and best of all, he was friendly, attentive, and came by with a smile.
Now, on to the food, which was by far the best Italian we’ve had in Astoria. We started with the Burrata (soft and fresh, wrapped in prosciutto) and Insalata D’Arugula (arugula with sliced pears, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese in raspberry balsamic vinaigrette), and both were delicious. Tasty, but not too filling, and nice to have some greens since our entrees did not include any. They even split each dish for us—a mark of very high quality service.
We had two main courses which were both specials: pasta with lobster and broccoli rabe in cherry tomato sauce finished with mint, and braised short rib over polenta. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the sauce had a nice flavor. Likewise, the polenta dish was flavorful and both the meat and polenta were cooked to perfection. Our only regret was leaving over the smallest bit (we were stuffed!). We had a decaf cappuccino after dinner, and even that tasted great. From start to finish, this meal was terrific, and we highly recommend going. Be advised that you should make a reservation, and the entrees are $20-40. Certainly a great place for a special occasion.
Kurry Qulture, an Indian restaurant that opened a few months ago, and also a BOAST winner for Best New Restaurant, is launching an A La Carte menu for Spring/Summer starting on Sunday, March 20. Here’s the info from the press release:
“Spring in India is the queen of all seasons,” said Sonny Solomon, Owner of Kurry Qulture, “It’s when the colors of the harvest festivals and warmer weather bring people together before the monsoons arrive. Street food and snacks become popular as we reconnect with friends and family.”
The a la carte Spring/Summer Menu gives diners the option to catch up over dinner or small plates. Al fresco dining will be available in the KQ backyard on warmer evenings.
Chef Hemant Mathur will feature authentic Indian spring/summer flavors including new vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes. A selection of biryanis will be added as a nod to India’s principal crop, rice.
Popular Indian street cart options will also be seen including Pav Bhaji, a flavorful blend of vegetables in a tomato gravy served with buttered bread rolls, and a Mung Sprout and Peanut Chaat, a quick bite packed with nutrients and protein traditionally served warm in cones made of recycled newspaper.
Diner favorites, such as Rogan Josh, Manchurian Cauliflower, Sweet and Sour Eggplant, and Lamb Chops will remain on the menu.
Kurry Qulture’s eclectic beer and wine list includes the crisp and flavorful 1947 Premium Lager, brewed with carefully selected ingredients to complement Indian cuisine. The crafted cocktails read like an ode to Astoria, with drinks such as Astoria of My Life and Thirstiest Avenue.
“We’re excited to throw our doors wide open and meet new neighbors,” said Sonny.
Reservations are being accepted by contacting Kurry Qulture at 718.674.1212 firstname.lastname@example.org
You can look through this site to find out readers’ picks for Astoria’s Best, and here are our Editors’ picks for our favorite Astoria spots. The best of the best, if you will.
Astoria Bier & Cheese: Simply the best craft beer in town. Who knew excellent beer went so well with great cheese?
Astoria Park: Want to play tennis? Shoot some hoops? Run around the track? Go swimming? Play soccer or Ultimate? Take a leisurely walk? Enjoy the view of the city from a bench? Or just relax on the lawn? Astoria Park has you covered.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden: Is there a better place to be on a warm summer afternoon than in this garden? If there is, we’d like to know! There’s a reason this is the primary reason people who don’t live in the area come to Astoria.
Gastroteca: Consistently great brunch, with many delicious options. The egg dishes are standouts, and if you want something sweet, the Belgian waffle with bananas, caramel sauce, and whipped cream is as good as it sounds.
Martha’s Country Bakery: By far the best desserts in Astoria. We can’t recommend the warm Mississippi Mud Pie enough. Also very good warm beverages.
Milkflower: Best pizza pie in Astoria, and our highest recommendation is the Van Dammer. The egg on top really gives it something extra.
Pye Boat Noodle: Flavors taste a little better here than at other Thai restaurants in Astoria, most of which are very good.
Q.E.D.: So much cool stuff happens at Q.E.D. that it seems like any day of the week you could find something that would be fun or interesting.
The Queens Kickshaw: Just a great place to relax, read a book, have a conversation with some friends, and drink excellent coffee and craft beer. The food is also very good, although some can be pricey.
Sac’s Place: Best slice in town. Our favorites are the Mama’s (margarita) and the Sicilian, which is out of this world.
Watawa Sushi: Not just the best Japanese food in Astoria, but also the best we’ve had in NYC. Exquisitely prepared, and everything tastes fresh.
Books and coffee go together like—well, books and coffee. And you can get the best of both without ever leaving Astoria. Astoria Bookshop and Gossip Coffee are two local staples that should definitely be a part of any Astorian’s day.
Start your day—be it a lazy Sunday, a fun Saturday, or even a Ferris Bueller-style day off—at Astoria Bookshop, a three-year-old independent bookstore that’s close to the Broadway stop on the N/Q line, so visiting from Manhattan is quick and easy.
Astoria Bookshop has a great selection of contemporary books, classics, and everything in between. They sell fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, YA, and middle grade/children’s literature, as well as quirky greeting cards, notebooks, book-themed candles, book-themed tea, book-themed baby clothes, and many other book-themed novelties.
Posted among the shelves are handwritten reading recommendations from the staff, so you’ll never be at a loss for ideas when browsing. The staff also runs a number of book clubs, author readings, and other literary events. Check out their event calendar at astoriabookshop.com/event. (*Note to aspiring writers: Every other week, the bookshop hosts a creative writing workshop.)
Once you’ve bought a book and helped support this local independent bookstore, it’s time to go cozy up and read over at Gossip Coffee.
Gossip Coffee Just two avenues and a few blocks down from Astoria Bookshop is Gossip Coffee, which opened last year and has been attracting a steady stream of Astorians ever since. The space is clean and relaxing, with a retro-modern feel and warm wooden hues throughout, and is often packed with people hanging out or working on their laptops. There are comfy chairs, lots of leather-lined barstool seating, a community table, free wi-fi, and outlets to charge your electronic devices. There’s even a beautiful outdoor patio for when the weather is nice.
The most important thing, though, is the coffee. Gossip’s signature espresso blend can only be described as medium-bodied heaven with a milk chocolate aftertaste. If espresso’s not your thing, they also brew regular coffee, though decaf drinkers take note they only offer decaf espresso, not decaf coffee. They also offer a selection of hot teas, and have at least five unique flavors of iced tea on tap. That’s right. ICED TEA ON TAP.
And don’t miss the doughnuts, which are artisan creations made fresh each morning by Chef Scottish Francis (a “fan favorite” contestant from season five of Masterchef). Flavors change frequently, but include Proscuitto Guinness, Key Lime Pie, Orange Creamsicle, Banana Coconut, Chocolate Stout, and more. (He’s even created a star-shaped “Ziggy Stardust” doughnut in memory of David Bowie, and a white “Holy Donut” for when the Pope was in town.) Another popular dessert is Gossip’s rice pudding; choose from Oreo, French Toast, Cheesecake, Rocky Road, Tiramisu, and more.
So go ahead and geek out with a day full of good books and good coffee, and experience for yourself what an amazing combination they can be.
New BOAST winners were published the other day, and this time there were 100 different winners! This is by far the most we’ve had for BOAST results. Congratulations to all. Places with the most wins in multiple categories include Mar’s (4), The Strand Smokehouse (4), Sek’end Sun (3), Sweet Afton (3), The Queens Kickshaw (3), and Martha’s Country Bakery (3). Other numbers of note: There were 18 categories in the EAT section, and 12 in each DRINK and DO & SEE. By location, Astoria-Ditmars (N/Q) had by far the most winners with 33, then it was 30th Ave (N/Q) with 22, Steinway (R) with 16, Broadway (N/Q) with 15, 31st Ave with 5, 36th Ave (N/Q) and LIC with 4 each, and Astoria Blvd (N/Q) with 3. (If you’re doing the math, that’s 102 total winners, but Bareburger and New York City Bagel & Coffeehouse both have two locations in Astoria.)
We also have new photos in the slideshows, and new Featured BOAST Locations throughout the site. If you know of businesses that should be featured on the site, contact us by filling out the form on the CONTACT page, or emailing email@example.com.
The BOAST: Best of Astoria Winter 2015-16 winners have been posted! Check out the pages for EAT, DRINK, DO & SEE, and LOCATION. Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey, and to those who did write-ups. To celebrate, we’re having a party tonight (Sunday) at 7pm at The Ditty (Ditmars Blvd and 35th St), winner for Best New Bar. $15 includes champagne and hors d’oeuvres. You can register online or pay cash at the door.
BOAST’s Winter Party is happening on January 31 at The Ditty!
The BOAST: Best of Astoria survey (winter 2015-16) is complete, and we are compiling the results right now. They will be published soon, and to celebrate another batch of BOAST: Best of Astoria winners, we will congregate and imbibe at the new Astoria watering hole The Ditty, at 35-03 Ditmars Blvd, on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7pm.
Your sign-up includes platters of hors d’oeuvres and champagne. (You can purchase other drinks at the bar.) It’s $12 if you register by Wednesday, Jan. 27, and $15 after that. Click here to register.
Today is officially the first day of winter, but you wouldn’t know it from the weather. Today in NYC the high was 60, tomorrow’s is 63, and Thursday’s is 72! Even if it is unseasonably warm, it is still perfectly OK to enjoy the best cup of hot chocolate in Astoria. Speaking of which, the new BOAST: Best of Astoria Survey (winter 2015-16) is out now, so it would be great if you fill it out! We always appreciate if you add a short 1-2 sentence write-up. The last day to submit is Tuesday, January 12.