Astoria, NY 11106
Astoria in Queens, NY is known for its Greek restaurants, and M and I were treated to a tour of the main drag by our New York friends Lauren and Ryan. Omonia Cafe is one of many Greek restaurants in Astoria and has been commanding a prominent corner there since 1977. There is no way you can miss this place, especially at night, as it is covered with colorful lights and neon signs. Snagging an outside spot also makes for some good people watching, and on nice nights, the outdoor area is overflowing. The menu is huge and varied, but concentrates on Greek (no surprise there), Italian and classic American favorites. There are also several pages dedicated to desserts, but I’ll get to that later.
For an appetizer we all ordered saganaki, one of M and my favorite Greek indulgences. How can you really go wrong with fried kasseri cheese, now? Omonia delivered on this one, though it does not come to the table with the “opa!” fanfare of the Chicago Greektown restaurants. I (L) ordered homemade spanikopita spinach pie stuffed with feta. The homemade version of the pie was on the menu along side with a cheaper spanikopita that was not billed as homemade. I’m glad I went with the homemade dish – since you could really taste that it was. M ordered the Penne a la Vodka, one of his favorites. Despite coming from a Greek restaurant, their rendition of the Italian dish was solid. Lauren sampled a dish I had never seen before – Strapatsada, which were a kind of Greek scrambled egg dish mixed with feta, tomatoes, olives and oregano, with pita triangles. This new dish was intriguing to me, and if I ever come back to Omonia, it would make an awesome brunch dish.
However, the real showstopper at the Omonia Cafe is the dessert case at the adjoining bakery. My sleuthing even tells me that this bakery created the flamboyant cake for the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. How cool is that? The desserts range from traditional Greek (Baklava and Yianniotiko – phyllo with nuts and shredded wheat) to Italian (Cannolis and Tiramisu) to plain American (Strawberry Shortcake and Jello). We tried a sampling of desserts including galactoboureko, which was a milk and honey custard baked on a phyllo crust. This unpronounceable dessert was very light, and pleasantly sweet. We also sampled a little chocolate and almond tart, which had a filling of chocolate cream and an indescribable liquor (orange? hazelnut? almond? all of the above? we have no idea). With all of the tantalizing desserts on display, hopefully we’ll be back someday to try out some more!