Ovelia Psistaria - 34-01 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
N/W Train to 30th Avenue
I'm a bit partial to this more-than-just-a-cafe eatery, owned by Astoria natives--and two sets of brothers--Chris and Peter Giannakas and Elias and Mark Mandilaras. Thanks to them, Ovelia emanates energy and style to the max--and it has the customers to prove it. Although we had to wait more than 40 minutes to be seated for brunch, as always it was well worth it. The place was even busier than usual because they supported Time Out For Hunger where 10% of proceeds went to help relieve hungry New Yorkers.
Modern and welcoming, Ovelia certainly falls out of the 30th Avenue cookie-cutter cafe mold. The decor is eclectic and interesting--and varies depending on where you sit. The front is open and bright with traditional tables, the middle is funky with Picasso-esque art and brass tables and the back is more private with contemporary art and marble tables. So basically, you could choose your setting based on your mood that day--there are plenty of options.
The coolest part of Ovelia in my opinion is the bar--it's made of concrete and subtly shines with fiber optic lights. Yet another non-food piece-de-resistance is the garage door window that opens up on warm, sunny days.
The extensive brunch is what draws in a lot of customers. Ovelia does a great job of mixing traditional Greek cuisine with modern American tastes. Think French toast stuffed with Greek yogurt and honey or pancakes paired with homemade sausage--made from a family recipe. Here are the dishes we enjoyed this past Sunday:
Tiropita Toast - Served with sliced apples, bacon, cream cheese and apple chutney, this is yet another interesting specialty I haven't seen at other Greek joints. What makes the "toast" special is the homemade bread--a flatbread made with what else but Feta cheese. The result is crispy and flavorful and I loved the pairing of sweet (apple) and savory (bacon). The cream cheese melted nicely and the apple chutney was gentle on the tongue, seducing it completely!
Turkey, Mushroom and Bechamel Crepes - I split these with Kimberly and they were truly amazing, my favorite part being the creamy bechamel sauce on top and on the inside. The mushrooms were a lovely surprise in the middle and the dish was light despite its hearty ingredients. You get three huge crepes with this order so be prepared to share with others.
Our other dining compadres were also loving their dishes. Joe ordered poached eggs on English muffins with crispy hash on the side--and his clean plate was proof of his satisfaction. Same went for Maria who stuck with a lunch basic of chicken Caesar Salad and also had an empty plate by meal's end. Shaya got the stuffed French Toast and I heard no complaints--I think she was especially impressed by the homemade sausage.
Service and Cost:
As always, the service here is super quick and efficient. Although our waitress was new, she was competent and friendly--often cracking a smile and offering as much advice as she could. One thing to note is that because we waited so long, we were offered a free round of morning cocktails on the house. This meant a lot to us, and we happily waited another couple of minutes while toasting to a fun get together with our sweet Mimosas.
The prices here are excellent and yet again offer great value. Depending on what you get, brunch will cost you between $10-$13 per person. This includes coffee/tea, an entree and a morning cocktail--good stuff.