Alpha Astoria

2 german girls review greek cafes in Astoria Queens

Monday, July 17, 2006

Locale- 34th Avenue and 33rd Street

For our first review with guests we choose Local because our friend S knows one of the Locale waitresses -- we also dragged along Brianna’s friend H who was visiting from San Francisco. Before we begin this review a quick list of everything we ordered: a local martini, an iced cappuccino, an iced coffee, 2 lemon mojitos, arguala salad with grilled pears, orchita piccante, gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce, chicken limon, prochito panini, sorbet ice cream bomb, tiramisu. All of which makes a couple of obvious points:
  • We are huge pigs.
  • This is not a greek café.
Locale is an Italian restaurant (despite the sign outside that declares "cafe/bar"). They have a ton of light pasta options, a very pretty looking dessert list and some impressive alcoholic beverage options. If Astoria is able to sustain Locale we predict that your rent will be going up in about a year. This is one of the new Park Slope-ish venues that have been cropping up in the neighborhood (Wave Thai, Brick, etc…) and while we’re ever so happy to have snazzy dining options opening up we can’t help but feel a little like Astoria is finally being discovered by the hipster masses and we may be left behind (unless we get raptured).

The first sign that you’re not (metaphorically) in Queens anymore is Locale’s décor. They have potted bamboo lining the outside-seating boarder. They have exposed brick walls and cloth wallpaper. They have art on the walls. Then to top it all off, while we realize that for whatever reason we’re a little obsessed with the lighting in the café’s we visit, Locale has taken over the Awesome Lighting crown. A special lighting shout-out goes to the wagon wheel-like hanging lights with exposed bulbs (You light up my life wagon wheel light! I love you! Woohoo!!! Lights rule 4-eva!!!!). We sat outside for the first time (finally we’re able to overcome our cold-bloodedness and jump into the authentic café experience and we’re not even at a greek café!) which was quite pleasant – the street is tree lined, but Locale’s corner is busy enough to provide you with plenty of people watching.

Brianna considered the lack of frappes on the a menu a sign that God wanted her to have some booze (just following the master in and effort to get to heaven people) so she started with a locale martini ($10). This has to be one of the prettiest drinks available in Astoria – it had a deep purple hue and a cute orchid blossom perched on the edge of the glass (and martini glasses are pretty even when empty so that helped too). H ordered an iced cappuccino ($3.75) and pronounced it "mild without being boring" and "having the proper amount of foam" – she’s much more serious about the review process then we are (newbie.). Amy and S had lemon mojitos ($9) which might even be an improvement on the traditional they were tart and minty and oh-so refreshing.

Ordering food proved to be a chore, partly because the menu was huge and partly because the cute-ish (in a nerdy hipster “my band is modeled on They Might Be Giants” sort of way) waiter would not leave us alone to swim in the complicated pros and cons which must be weighed when considering 15 different plates of pasta (Spicy? Creamy? Fungi?), and of course photograph everything that was currently on the table. He wasn’t really pushy-- just overly present – perhaps he just started waiting tables and is a bit too much of an eager beaver. Finally the pressure of being asked if we had decided yet once every 30 seconds got to us and Bri, Amy, H and S order orchieta ($12.50), gnocchi ($13.50), chicken (13.95) and Panini ($9.50) respectively, with a lovely tri-colore salad to share.

By the time we got the dessert menu (!!??) we were full and happy. However, the pictures were so pretty, that we couldn't resist. Between the four of us, we decided to split two desserts-- the "Exotic Bamba" ($6) and Tiramisu ($6). The Exotic Bamba is a delicious concoction of three kinds of sorbet: mango, a tasty unidentified flavor, and berry. Then this ball of yumminess is covered with a white-chocolate shell. Everyone liked this one. Amy felt that the tiramisu was too dry and not sweet enough, though Brianna liked those very qualities. S and H split down the party lines, and the tiramisu didn't get finished that night.

Awesome Astoria Activities:

We actually don't have any. The grocery across the street didn't seem to quite fit the bill. Turns out 34th Avenue is a pretty quiet street these days. However, we do suggest the nearby Museum of the Moving Image. It's one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon.

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4.5
Average Attractiveness of Staff: 4 (there's an extra .5 in there for the waitress we know)
Average Attractiveness of Patrons: 4