Monday, October 20, 2014

Trying Rose & Joe's Sicilian Pizza



Loving to visit Rose & Joe's Bakery for their breads and sweet things, I'm not too proud to admit that I've never yet tried their pizza.  Very well known in foodie circles in Astoria, this pizza's reputation precedes itself in that it's supposed to be really classic and top notch.  As I found myself near Ditmars on Saturday, I decided to stop in and try it.

Rose & Joe's Sicilian Pizza - For those of you not familiar with the layout of Rose & Joe's Bakery, the pizza counter is situated all the way in the back.  I like that the pies are made fresh and you can even get a sneak peek of the large industrial sized ovens they use in the back of the space.

I chose the spinach Sicilian slice that you see above, but they have a lot of others you can choose from.  The crust was super thin, crunchy and the spinach was also a little crispy on the edges.  I like the homemade tomato sauce, which wasn't too sharp and acidy and overall created nice flavor balance.  The temperature of the pizza was the only thing I didn't love, as it wasn't hot enough.  I think the flavors would've shined that much more if it was a few degrees warmer and in retrospect, I should've asked them to heat it up longer.

Service and Cost:
Since this is still a somewhat undiscovered feature of the bakery (only true locals know about it), I got in and out of there in about 10 minutes.  Eating my pizza in the shop at the front counter was nice, as I got to watch the busy goings-on of 31st street while I devoured.

Costs are wallet friendly at just $3.25 per slice.

2.5 Mmmms

Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery - 22-40 31st Street, Astoria NY 11105
718.721.9422
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop) 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Astoria Gets Ready for Halloween with Delicious Sweet Things




With just two weeks away, Halloween is quickly creeping in, and it's fun to see that places in the neighborhood are getting ready.  While on a stroll through 30th Avenue and Ditmars, I noticed a few awesome Halloweeny things that caught my attention.  Make sure you check out these creepy, scary and beautiful windows and pop in for a treat.

Leli's Bakery - The best Halloween window I've seen so far is at Leli's with their creepy crawler cakes that you see above.  Not only are these creative and colorful, they exemplify amazing pastry and fondant work.  Aside from these impressive cakes, they also have Halloween themed cookies, cupcakes and other yums.  35-14 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.8090

La Guli Pastry Shop - On my way to get a haircut yesterday, I noticed the beautiful Halloween desserts in their window, including fondant cakes, gorgeous marzipan pumpkins and ghosts.  It looks like they have decorative sugar cookies as well, which are simple but always a big win with the kiddies.  19-15 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.728.5612

Martha's Bakery
- While the Halloween decorations are still in the works, there are plenty of pumpkin flavored treats available such as cookies, cupcakes, a pumpkin apple cheesecake, pie and even sheet cake.  Go orange! 36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.545.9737

What other kinds of Halloween treats have caught your eye?

Tacuba - Three Dudes Brunch Out





It's not often that I skip out on a new and interesting meal in Astoria, but Dan definitely one-upped me on this one.  Read and salivate as he brings you the play by play of the new brunch offering at Tacuba Cantina in Astoria.

Today, when I asked your Fooditka where I should go with my buddies for some brunch (yeah, three dudes going to brunch, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) she suggested Tacuba. She then also “suggested” I cover it for the blog. Here goes:


Atmosphere:

Tacuba is a new Mexican cantina that opened on the corner of 35th ave. and 36th st. where 5 Napkin Burger was. In fact, upon entering, I was struck immediately that the layout is exactly the same as it used to be. The d├ęcor is different of course; tequila bottles lined up above the bar instead of whiskey, a few sombreros on the walls, and a more rustic finish give it a Mexican cantina feel, but the interior fixtures are all pretty much the same. The familiarity is actually nice, as I’ve spent many a happy hour in those exact same confines and it’s nice to know I still can, albeit with a different style and flavor.

Food:

I love Mexican food, as I’m mostly gluten-free (yeah, mostly gluten-free, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) and as long as you’re dealing with authentic corn tortillas and chips, it’s like cheating it’s so easy. So as much as I love it, I’m euphorically overjoyed by terrific Mexican food, and gut-wrenchingly devastated by a sub-par effort. I’m also prone to hyperbole.

Drinks - Fortunately for me, the food was delicious. Also fortunately for me, it is happy hour at the bar from 12-8 p.m. on Saturdays, so naturally we sat at the bar - $5.00 drafts, $6.00 sangria and margaritas. Anybody knows that some cerveza goes well with three dudes eating Mexican brunch. Full disclosure, two out of the three dudes got a glass of sangria - also delicious.


Chilaquiles - There is a regular menu and a special brunch menu, and we all ordered from the brunch menu. I got Chilaquiles, but instead of eggs mixed in with all the tortillas and sauce and greens, I got chicken. It was well worth the $3.00 upcharge. The sauce was the perfect amount of tangy and citrus-zesty, the chicken was moist yet lightly charred outside, and the chip layer on the bottom soaked everything up the exact right amount.


Chicken Empanadas, Huevos Rancheros, The Burger - Paul got an order of chicken empanadas, and a plate of Huevos Rancheros that looked pretty awesome and Jamil got the Mexican burger, which also looked great. As we were three dudes eating brunch, we didn’t try anyone else’s food, so I can’t tell you exactly how theirs was, but they both seemed to really enjoy. The empanadas looked incredibly tempting and I would have had one for the sake of the blog, but alas…mostly gluten-free over here.


Service and Cost:

The service was also very good, the bartender was attentive, and the food all came out quickly and hot. With the empanadas, the three mains, one extra basket of chips and salsa, and mmpth-fmmf beers and sangrias, we got out of there for about $30 per person.

So to recap - decent atmosphere, fantastic food, good service, and moderate pricing. I’d have to give it 3 Mmmms.


Tacuba Cantina Mexicana - 35-01 36th Street, Astoria NY 11106
718.786.2727
R Train to Steinway Street or N/Q Train to 36th Avenue
tacubanyc.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Fall Cocktail Menu at Mar's Oyster Bar

Image by Mar's Oyster Bar

Keeping my eye on seasonal eats and drinks, I noticed that Mar's Oyster Bar, of my favorite neighborhood joints is featuring a new fall cocktail menu.  You can always count on Mar's to deliver something unique and sophisticated and I think these seasonal cocktails do just that:

The Orchard - Bulleit bourbon, St. Germaine, lemon cinnamon mash, apple cider...$11

Hot Toddy - Irish whiskey, simmering lemon & honey, hot water...$10

The Derby - Dry Curacao, Rye Whiskey, Angostura Bitters...$12

There's also the above pictured Rye Cousteau drink I spotted on Facebook, which is available during Happy Hour for $7. As far as eats go, take a look at some of the recent dishes I've tried that come highly recommended.

Mar's Oyster Bar - 34-21 34th Street, Astoria NY 11106
718.685.2480

N/Q Train to Broadway or R Train to Steinway St
lifeatmars.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

M. Wells Steakhouse Bursts with Juice and Flava





Celebrating our anniversary last week, Dan and I splurged on a special dinner at M.Wells Steakhouse.  I've been dying to try this place ever since it opened, but haven't gotten around to it, so this made for a perfect opportunity.

Atmosphere:

Located on a discreet corner of 43rd Avenue and Crescent Street in LIC, M. Wells Steakhouse isn't the easiest to find, but once you uncover it, you'll be glad.  Occupying an old garage/body shop space, it very much fits the vision that its innovators had for it in that it's unique, a little quirky and very noteworthy.

Once you walk in, you're welcome by a warm vibe and an overall spacious open floor dining room.  I love that you have full view into the kitchen, which puts on display the talented chefs that make all that steak magic happen.  There's a wood fired grill at one side from which delicious smells emanate and where you see women chefs flipping juicy steaks.  It's the ultimate juxtaposition, which breaks every cliche in the proverbial book and I love that.

Food:

The simple yet intriguing menu left us pining for almost everything on it, and we didn't shy away from ordering a little bit of everything.  In the end, I think we ordered too much, but my philosophy is to try it all and then pack the extra for later, which is exactly what we did.

Appetizers - We ordered two appetizers, including a classic Caesar salad as well as duck cooked inside of a pumpkin.  The latter was a clear standout, as it represented everything that I love about fall - deep, rich flavors, seasonal veggies such as the pumpkin and mushrooms.  The duck itself was luscious and juicy and flavored by a rich broth that soaked deep into the crevices of the pumpkin.

Steaks - The main draw is the steak of course, and we each chose something different, Dan deciding to go with a T-Bone and I tried the skirt steak instead.  Both were cooked to a medium rare consistency and had a nice char on the outside from the wood fired grill.  Even though they were generously marbled, I didn't mind and thought this added to the steak's overall tastiness.  While my steak was a lot less low-brow, I preferred my dish, since it also came with other accouterments such as grilled onions, thinly sliced potatoes and chunks of comte cheese.

Side - Even though we didn't need it, we had to get a side of poutine for good measure.  Everything about this was awesome including the hearty gravy, the crispy fries and the slightly melted comte cheese (the same one that was on my skirt steak).

Dessert - The dessert presentation was a thing of beauty, as our waiter came around with an elaborate cart full of goodies and meticulously described each item.  There were some impressive dishes such as Pumpkin Chocolate Charlotte, which feeds 2-4 people and is a whopping $29.

We didn't try that needless to say, but decided on a chocolate whiskey tarte with a cookie crust.  It was phenomenal - chocolatey, caremeley and crunchy on the outside, it was the perfect way to end this memorable meal.

Service and Cost:

Everything about the service at M. Wells was on-point.  From the minute that we walked in and got seated to the bread and water service, to the very end when we received our to go bags, it was all high quality and super professional.  The fact that the service doesn't feel stuffy and pretentious also says a lot about M.Well's excellent management.

Costs are expensive but unsurprising for the uniqueness of this place:

Appetizers - $11-$15
Steaks & Mains - $18-$160
Sides - $8-$15
Dessert - $6-$29

3 Mmmms

M.Wells Steakhouse - 43-15 Crescent Grill, Long Island City NY 11101
718.786.9060
7 Train to 45th Road/Courthouse Square
magasinwells.com

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quick Columbus Day Brunch Ideas

For those of us jealous folk who are working today, we'll live vicariously through our lucky friends who have the day off.  If you're in the neighborhood and are in the mood for a quick, impromptu brunch here's a few options you can enjoy:

Image by Marketa

Marketa 
-
 Serving up a medley of vibrant brunch dishes such as fluffy Eggs Benny, French Toast with Bananas Foster, the Kitchen Sink brunch platter and more, there's plenty of brunchie goodness available here.  Add $15 to that 
and you can also enjoy unlimited brunch cocktails for about an hour and a half.  37-17 30th Avenue, Astoria. 347.813.4437


The Queens Kickshaw - Known to serve a late brunch during holiday weekends, TQK will be serving up their delicious brunch eats til about 4:45 p.m. today.  Get a load of their new menu items, which include roasted brussels sprouts, the Manchego sandwich, a fall squash soup and more! 40-17 Broadway, Astoria. 718.777.0913


Il Bambino - Also extending their brunch service til 3:30 p.m. today, you still have some time to pop in and munch on some brunch paninis, which come in both the sweet and savory variety.  My personal stand-outs include the Real Men Love Pigs panini and the We Got Nuttin (with Nutella) panini.  34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.0087

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Astor Bakeshop's Seasonally Delicious Brunch





After a fun and informative tour of the Welling Court Mural Project, as part of Open House New York Weekend, Dan and I headed over to to Astor Bake Shop for some brunch.  We haven't been in quite a while and were looking forward to their wholesome dishes, which haven't yet disappointed and today was no different.

Open Faced Omelette - Topped with seasonally delicious ingredients such as cauliflower and eggplant, the open faced omelette was a vegetarian's dream.  Even though Dan is far from being a veggie, he loved this dish and commented on how fresh and flavorful it was.  I had the pleasure to taste it as well and especially loved the cauliflower, which was cooked al dente.  As you can see, the dish also came with a side of hash browns and salad, which made it a complete meal.

Tomato and Egg Skillet - I was quickly sold on this dish after reading its description on the menu and noticed two of my favorite ingredients - tomatoes and avocado.  Ultimately, it was really simple but made of high quality ingredients such as fresh eggs, bright, locally sourced veggies and a freshly crisped tortilla.  While the eggs were a bit overcooked for my liking, the roasted veggies in the skillet made up for it and created a beautiful balance of flavors.

Carrot, Cucumber and Ginger Juice - Even though I was all set on coffee, I noticed a few fresh fruit juice options, which took my interest. I ordered this one and loved its bright orange color and vibrant flavor, which wasn't at all enhanced with sugar, and for this I was grateful.  The ginger was subtle but you can still taste it after each delicious sip.

Service and Cost:

Unlike some of the other times that I visited Astor Bake Shop, the service now was totally on point.  We didn't wait long for anything and felt very well taken care of, noticing that everyone else was also experiencing good service.


Costs are reasonable, especially given the high quality of food and service and set us back about $15 each including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms


Astor Bake Shop - 12-23 Astoria Blvd, Astoria NY 11102
N/Q Train to Astoria Blvd
718.606.8439
astor-bakeshop.com

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