July 18, 2016
Over the weekend, I took a break from unpacking boxes and decided I needed a night out, complete with dinner and a movie*. I moved in the beginning of the month to another apartment in Astoria, just a measly 8 blocks away, but have just recently discovered a plethora of brand new restaurants to try in the area. One of them being Gastroteca, a modern Italian restaurant located on 33rd Street and 34th avenue. And here is where I enjoyed the best meal in Astoria.
I know saying the word “best” in front of anything is a pretty wild assumption, since I probably use that word every time I eat breakfast. “This is the BEST bagel and cream cheese I’ve ever had!” “That coffee, oh my God, it’s the best!” But this blog post is not a hyperbolic attempt at being dramatic or getting free food. It’s just a personalized statement that my dinner on Saturday night was the best meal I have had since living in Astoria – so don’t take it with a grain of sea salt. (But if next week I describe my pasta from the Red Lobster as “the best dish on the menu”, simply ignore that. I am trying to get an unlimited supply of Cheddar Bay Biscuits).
The atmosphere at Gastroteca is rustic and modern at the same time, with a projector playing black and white movies from the 50’s and R&B hits of the 90’s playing instead of the film’s sound. They have al fresco dining as well as a pretty decent sized inside dining room, which is where I sat.
To start, they have a list of 6 or 7 crostini’s for $4 each of 3 for $10. We ordered the 3 for ten figuring it was the best way to sample a little of everything. The three crostini’s we selected were:
All three of them were full of flavor and I couldn’t even choose which one was my favorite. For our entrées, we were stuck. They have such a great menu of homemade pasta dishes as well as different meat dishes. Before we headed out of the apartment, I did something I hate to do: I went on Yelp to look at the menu. And when I did that, I saw they had a breaded veal cutlet topped with prosciutto. I figured that if I couldn’t find anything else that seemed interesting, that would be my choice.
I scoured the menu, looking at each and every pasta dish and my stomach growled louder with each line. When the waiter came by to take our order, I felt all of the pressure and just decided to go with my gut – literally – and ordered the veal.
And it was the best decision I made since cancelling my L.A. Fitness membership.
The veal was so tender and breaded to perfection and the added layer of prosciutto just made the meat taste that much better. It was served with roasted potatoes and an arugula salad that tasted so good, I forgot for a second what I was eating.
Fig, jam, ricotta and prosciutto
Sweet onion compote with whipped goat cheese
Eggplant, salumi and brie
Another dish that was ordered at the table was the Cavatelli with lamb sausage and garlic in a mint pesto sauce. Each bite was full of flavor but not as heavy as one might believe. When our plates were cleared, I told the waiter this was the best meal I’ve ever had in Astoria. He took the compliment well, like any other waiter would. But I said it again, making sure not to lose eye contact. “This really was the best meal I have had in Astoria.”
He then went on break or got really busy, because we didn’t see him after that...
Everything about Gastroteca was perfect. The lighting, music playlist (I heard “No Diggity and Return of the Mack), the pricing, the wine, and of course the food. I can’t wait to go back and try another dish.
*Went to see Ghostbusters and it was terrible. One Cheez-It