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


  • At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Christos said…

    I came across your blog and I must say I love it. As a resident of Queens, and being Greek. I absolutely love this idea of rating Cafes in Astoria. I must have had a frappe and a pack of cigarettes in about every single one of them.


  • At 8:28 AM, Blogger Josh said…

    Yum - Locale is a favorite. Very good eats.

  • At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When a new place opens in a small neighbor area like Astoria, it usually brings some excitement, especially if the area is not as diverse as other NYC boroughs.
    Of course, Astoria is catching up! You are no longer limited to Greek restaurants and café shops. The Locale - located at 34th Ave and 33rd street- probably the newest edition to
    I love Astoria, and have many friends here. So I felt like I am obligated to write this review;

    We (four of us) made reservation on Valentine's Day because we knew that it was going to be packed (since the place is way to small). Our reservation was 9:00 pm, so we arrived there half an hour earlier (let's don't take a chance!). We also reminded (couple times) to the host that we were here. When It was 9, they told us that our table is not ready yet, but will be in 5-10 min. We said it's O.K we can wait. This excuse goes until next an hour or so (Yes. We wait our 'reserved' table for an hour). You might ask "why we wait, why not leave". Well, first of all, we had two bottle of wine, and secondly it was way too cold to walk around to other places (my dear friend suggested that we should go to Brick Café). Keep the story short, we finally got our table! We sit down the table close to door. Our waiter arrived, no smile on his face whatsoever, drop the menu on the table left. When we looked the menu, they changed usual menu and replaced with "Valentine's Day Pre-Fix Menu" it was pre-fix $50 dollar! (not including drinks!). I am kind of surprised that, but I said what the hell it is Valentine's Day and my wife begging me to go there. My wife was not quite hungry, so I figure out that we just shared the food (since $50 pre-fix going to be a lot -- I was wrong). So did our couple friends too. We ordered the food; one salad, one pasta, one entrée, and end we were probably going to get some desert at the end. After 15 min later, our waiter come to our table and said "I am sorry, but you can't share your food. Each person should order pre-fix $50 her/his own food". I was shocked when I heard I thought maybe it was because of freezing cold and my ears couldn't hear clearly, so I asked him "I am sorry I did not hear you, can you repeat what you just said?" -- of course, I heard clearly first time, but just wanted to hear it back again!. He told us again. I said "so what you are telling me is I can NOT share my food with my wife!"
    He said "yes, she has to get pre-fix $50 food too!" We were very, very upset, first they made us wait an hour for table even if we made reservation like 5 hours ago, and second now this shit is happening! My wife was trying to make me calm down. I looked her and thought let's be it we could always take the leftover food home. We waited another 1 hour 30 min for our food to arrive our table (it was 11:30 pm now), we asked bread and some olive oils too (because we were starving!), never got that. We asked salt and pepper, never got that. Trust me, we were not only ones so upset about it, I was checking other tables, and I can see on their eyes "shocked, surprised, checking the bills twice, third time (I guess they did not know that each has to pay $50 bucks even if the person just drinks a glass of wine!, it was just unbelievable"

    Now, let's talk about the food we got that night -- keep in mind it was pre-fix $50 food we are talking about here. First, it was the worst I have never had it, second, the portion were smaller than usual, second services were the worst. Moral of the story; they made us wait an hour for table (even if we made advance reservation), another 1 hour 30 min waiting for food, and dealing with their "don't care" attitude (priceless!). Four of us, we ended up paying $300.00! (do the math: each person have to pay $50.00, plus drinks).

    They are trying to create a hip place, and they think they have to right to over-charge the costumer. I guess they made tons of money that night. But what cause? Losing customers? I highly believe the customers who were there that night won't make the same mistake twice, and I believe that they won't go there anymore. Because we are never going to go there!. I promised myself that I will tell every friend of mine about our bad experiences with them. And I will post this review to the internet every restaurant review section. I will also call up my friend who works and does review at Zagat.


  • At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Manhattan Prices, Cafeteria Food
    Do I have to say more? I've been here 3x as it is near my house. Brunch was decent. The dinner specials abominable--tried steak once, chilean sea bass once. I think the side dishes I refused to eat with the steak were saved and served to me again with the sea bass 2 weeks later. They were overcooked, uninspired paprika sprinkled overcooked potatoes and soggy, tired-of-being-reheated once-green beans. The bass was in a wine sauce, let me correct that--worse than grocery store gravy--for $26 thank you. I'll never go for dinner again.

  • At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    FIVE STARS!!! Locale is a wonderful place that I highly recommend. The martinis are beautiful and delicious. I highly recommend "the panty dropper" which has a wide range of amazing flavors from vanilla to rasberry to pineapple. Also the pineapple mojito is a unigue and tasty treat. The service was great...the wait staff really knows the food and they look good serving it! The omlettes they serve for brunch are light and fluffy and wont way your down.


  • At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I used to be a fan, especially when Locale offered a fixed brunch menu. The food was worth the price.
    Since then I stopped to go for food. Overpriced for the quality. Though most of the staff is experienced, when you have a young lady that doesn't know what smiling means (each time I saw her there), imposes on you (the guest) her (the waitress) choice: a sugared coffee without asking if you like it like that. All of that added. Locale is off the list until ...

  • At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i live around the block and have been wanting to go for a while, just for drinks. After reading the reviews, especially that they had food ( i figured it was typical sandwich finger cafe typical food) i decided i had to go. I just got back and I have to say that it was okay.

    The drinks are good. They have some interesting convo's i'd definately go back for.
    The specials of the day were verbal and when the waiter finished I remembered less than half of waht he said. I think maybe they should have them written.

    The one special sounded GREAT! but it was alright. I remember the waiter saying scallop, shrimp and kalamari with a salad. It was 2 small pieces of kalamari, with two shrimp, maybe an inch each (they were soo tiny). Tasted good but not what I expected.

    I ordered the salmon fromt eh appetizer and my bf ordered the chicken marsala. His was good (possibly too much pepper although I wasn't exactly sure if that's what it was too much of). Being a recent salmon eater, I was taking a chance. It turns out it was smoked salmon (which was not noted on the menu). I hate being annoying so i figured id give it a shot. Sure, you can say i should have asked how it was prepared, but silly me expects things like that to be noted.
    The waiter was really nice about it and just asked why I didnt like it. I did enjoy my "experience" but I do think they should write the specials down, for the customers and waiters sake and they may want to note the salmon was "smoked."

  • At 5:44 PM, Anonymous mm said…

    To H:/ - dude if you go to a restaurant on Valentines day - you deserve what you get. Valentines day is the absolute worst night to go to a restaurant. It is total amature night - everyone want a table for two (duh) and people who never go out go out that night and have no idea how to behave. Never judge a restaurant by valentines day.


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