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Lindsay

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Wednesday
Jul132011

Opa! A blogger's dinner at Ovelia

  • Restaurant  Ovelia
  • Cuisine  Greek
  • Location  34-01 30th Ave. - Astoria, Queens (11102
  • Phone 718 -721-7217
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  modern, young, fun, energetic
  • Attire  smart casual
  • Ideal for  small groups, 1x1, happy hour
  • Price  affordable to moderate

There's nothing that I love more than venturing outside of Manhattan, my dining comfort-zone, to explore the other four (of NYC's five) boroughs.  So, who better to organize and host a dinner in Astoria, Queens than neighborhood native, Judith, of famed food blogs, Fooditka and We Heart Astoria?

In honor of her website's very recent name change (from Foodista to Fooditka), Judith invited a handful of NYC food bloggers to join her for dinner at Ovelia, one of her favorite Greek restaurants in Astoria.  This included: yours truly, Gluten-Free Fun, Harmonious Belly, and The Gotham Palate.

In true Lunch Belle fashion, I arrived in Astoria roughly 30-minutes prior to our 7pm dinner seating.  What the heck was I going to do for a 1/2 hour?  And, just when I decided to head to the restaurant for a glass of wine, I happened upon the 30th Avenue Fruit Market.  For $10.25, I walked away with: 2 ears of corn, 1 Vidalia onion, 2 poblano peppers, 1 donut peach, 1 peach, 1 nectarine, 1 zucchini, and a tray of fresh green peas.  There was so much more produce that I wanted but, with a lengthy meal and commute in store for the evening, I figured that it would be in my best interest to keep my bags as light as possible.  I cannot wait to return here in the very near future, though!

As I approached Ovelia, I was pleased to observe that, not only was the restaurant hugging a prime street corner, but it also had an ample amount of outdoor dining space.  Once inside, however, I learned that our group would be seated at a large table located towards the back of the dining room - not al fresco.

Ovelia: Astoria's modern Greek...and, once again, in true Lunch Belle fashion, I was the first blogger to arrive for our dinner.  Granted, I was 5-minutes early.  Luckily, that did not stop an adorable server from approaching the table and handing me food, drink, and the evening's special, "Rock 'n Ribs," menus -in addition to informing me that "you know, we are in the midst of 'happy hour.'" 

So, on that note, I took her advice and ordered a glass of the $5 rose-based "summer sangria."  And, just two sips in to my delicious beverage, the rest of my party arrived!

Rose-based summer sangria laced with fresh kiwi and strawberryOnce everyone was introduced, seated, and settled, Judith explained that, for the most part, we would be sharing plates from Ovelia's Rock 'n Ribs menu. 

Below, please find photos of each of the dishes that we tried, with descriptions underneath:

Grilled Halloumi

Thinly sliced, rolled prosciutto (ham) topped with grilled halloumi cheese and roasted red peppers.

Ovelia Loukaniko

Handmade, sliced sausage tossed in a sweet 'n sour marinade.

Fried Feta Cubes

Perfectly-squared cubes of feta cheese were enveloped in a black and white sesame batter, fried, and then drizzled with honey.

Kafteri Poppers

A silky-smooth feta cheese blend and spicy jalapeno peppers were deep-fried and accompanied by a tangy, house-made marinara dipping sauce.  This is the Greek version of Tex-Mex's "jalapeno poppers!"

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

I was pleasantly surprised by how well-seasoned, moist, and perfectly fried this chicken turned out to be.  Because, in all fairness, I was weary about eating this Southern favorite at a Greek restaurant in Queens. 

Grilled chicken

Be it the specific seasonings - the marinade - the accompanying lemon wedge - or, hell, maybe the secret lies within the charcoals - but, whatever the case may be, the Greeks just seem to make more magic out of grilling meats than anyone else in the entire world.  And this chicken was no absolutely different.

BBQ Ribs

Moist, tender, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs exuded a fragrant, smoky aftertaste that I found quite impressive and, most importantly, incredibly delicious.

Sides: Mashed potatoes 'n gravy, macaroni 'n cheese / candied yams, macaroni 'n cheese

For the most part, I found the sides to be mediocre, at best.  While they weren't bad (except for the sweet potatoes, which were served cold!), per se, they seemed like menu after-thoughts and, definitely, not specialties of the house.  If I had my choice, I would have picked: sweet corn cakes, rice, or seasoned French fries.

Conclusion

While I really enjoyed my meal at Ovelia, I'd love to return and sample the restaurant's authentic Greek cuisine. 

A big "thank you" to Judith, for being such a hospitable and gracious hostess.  What a generous and lovely way to bring fellow members of the food blogging community together!  Brilliant.

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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