When in New York, any trip to or from JFK Airport brings the ardent hope that our drive will include a stop at Agnanti Restaurant.
Located on the corner of a residential block in Astoria with views of Astoria Park, Agnanti Restaurant serves traditional Greek dishes (no gyros here!) from various locations in Greece. The cozy restaurant, which opened in 2002, is jam-packed day and night and has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine and received a 27/30 in a 2006 Zagat survey.
With exposed brick walls, hanging stills from Greek films and a cast iron fireplace, Agnanti's vibe is an intimate one that feels more like you're dining in a friend's home rather than in a restaurant.
On this night, however, we ordered our food to-go.
Any meal at Agnanti (or in this case, from Agnanti) must begin with their Greek salad. Although one might think "if you've had one, you've had them all," Agnanti's use of crisp, fresh vegetables and large chunks of feta cheese in their Greek salad illustrates that, sometimes, it is tough to beat simplicity. I just love the refreshing flavors and the large, crunchy chunks of cheese and vegetables.
The Midia Krassata (mussels in wine sauce) are a big hit with J's family, particularly with his younger brother. Although I have expanded my seafood horizons since the LudoBites 4.0 preview, I'm not quite ready for mussels. J's brother Adam (a fellow foodie and budding chef), informed me that the sauce is flavored by white wine and the mussels' juice and is thickened by feta cheese as it melts.
I ordered the Yogurtlu Kebab, or ground beef served on pita with yogurt and tomato sauce. The tender beef rolls can best be described as a shawarma-like sausage and were savory but not over-filling. The two sauces complemented the meat and pita perfectly, with the spicy tomato sauce playing nicely off the mild yogurt.
One of Agnanti's specials of the night was Pasticcio--news which elicited fist pumps from me and J. Despite my love of Greek food and a visit to Greece, I had never heard of pasticcio before dining at Agnanti.
Pasticcio is akin to Greek lasagna but with less cheese and a generous helping of bechamel sauce and lamb on long noodles and tube pasta. In the words of Christopher Walken's character on SNL's "The Continental," "Wow. Wowee wow wow." The lamb's tenderness plays nicely off the firm pasta and, because the dish is light on cheese, the rich flavors of the bechamel sauce and lamb shine. Just looking at this picture makes me happy.
Another lovely part about dinner at Agnanti Restaurant is the view of the New York City cityscape from Astoria Park--a minute walk from the restaurant. I may be from Hawai'i and living in LA, but, when I look at the lights of NYC, I feel at home.
Agnanti Restaurant is a must-eat for me in New York. In this case, I ate it within an hour of landing at JFK. It's just that good.
(P.S. If you ever have even just a layover at LaGuardia, Agnanti is just a stone's throw away!)
19-06 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria, NY 11105