Wander into Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, and you could be forgiven for thinking you'd somehow managed to beam yourself, in true Star Trek-style, to the warmer climes of the Mediterranean. At least when the sun is shining, anyway.
Why Greeks and Italians were attracted to Astoria in the late 19th and early 20th century may forever remain a mystery, but they were and it's something that has changed the area and given it a very European appeal.
Fronted by the broad waters of the East River and with its wide, avenue-type streets where pavement cafes spring up in the summer months, Astoria has a different atmosphere to what you would expect of a New York suburb. Forget fast-food franchises, although they do exist. Astoria's culinary scene hasn't changed much since those first migrants arrived. Think Greek tavernas with mezes on the menu and Italian trattorias serving world-class pizza and you won't be far off imagining eating out in Astoria.
31-91 21st St, Astoria, NY 11106
4102 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11103
3511 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106
43-19 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11103
24-17 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105
30-01 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106
34-24 30th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
43-18 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105
31-1 21st St, Astoria, NY 11106
45-19 28th Ave, Astoria, NY 11103
2916 Crescent St, Astoria, NY 11102
31-06 21st Street, Astoria, NY 11106
When you head into Astoria for a pizza, and many folks travel there just to do exactly that, you'll get what Astoria is known for and that's a New York-style pizza. New York-style pizza in Astoria isn't quite as simple as the original might seem to be though, so be prepared for unusual twists, innovative presentations and pies that don't exactly replicate New York-style pizzas at all even though they are.
In the pizzeria-overloaded streets of Astoria, competition has led to extra creativeness when it comes to serving pies. Is that a good thing? When it comes to pizza the answer has to be a resounding – yes! They can make it round, they can make it square, they can sell it whole or by the slice, they can top it with mozzarella, arugula greens or whatever else is in the fridge, but whatever they do, you'll know when you get pizza in Astoria, it'll be a proper Italian job.
Mia Pizza on Ditmar Boulevard may only have a small premises, but it's one that's geared to sending out the best delivery pizza in Astoria. From just a small establishment they make pizza dreams happen and regularly too with a delivery service second to none. Even though you won't see their red canopied local when you order online, it’s there and shouts – we're Italian and know how to make a decent pizza.
There's not a shortage of pizzerias making deliveries from on Ditmar Avenue in Astoria, but it could be said that Mia Pizza is a cut above the rest when it comes to slicing New York-style pies. Mia Pizza is not a fancy place by any means and their antiquated red-checked, plastic tablecloths don't inspire a surge of culinary confidence. That said though, when it comes to delivery pizza in Astoria, they really know what they're doing.
As you're wandering around Astoria soaking up its unique ambiance, rather than taking a table on one of the pizzeria terraces, you may want to keep on exploring even if you're peckish. If you're on 30th Avenue, you'll be on exactly the right street to pick up the best takeout pizza in Astoria.
Grand Avenue Pizza's premises occupy a corner position on the first floor of a three story brick building on one of Astoria's main thoroughfares. Externally it's nothing to write home about, but look through the plate-glass windows and your eyes will pop. Walk through the doors and even if you've never been there before, you'll be transported to Italy in a flash.
Grand Avenue Pizza serve their slices of pie in true Italian street food style – al taglio. These luscious rations of grab and go pizza are tray-baked, cut into squares and ready to devour. Don't worry about them being pre-cooked, they're never on the counter for long.
If you've just landed at the John F Kennedy International Airport and want some real food after suffering over an in-flight meal, make a left on the Belt Parkway and head to Howard Beach. It'll be like a blast of fresh air before you get into the mayhem of Brooklyn. Skip the mini Las Vegas that is Ozone Park, pick up a pizza from DiVino on Cross Bay Boulevard and recover from your journey while enjoying your pie by the waterside in Spring Creek Park.
Life isn't always a bed of roses and things can go wrong on occasion. If you've been over to Rikers Island visiting someone in one of the correctional centers there, even though it's not Alcatraz, you may well need some high-carb sustenance after leaving. East Elmhurst is just a five mile drive away over the East River, quiet and relatively conservative. If you're hoping to make a celebratory release party, then Antonio's Kitchen on 21st Avenue will be more than happy to acquiesce.
Port Washington is a town located on a peninsula twenty miles east of Astoria and somewhere to visit when you want to see how the other half live. Think golf clubs and marinas full of yachts, and you won't be far wrong. Upmarket it may be and have streets lined with bank account-busting condos, but drop into Carlo's Pizza of Port Washington on Main Street and you'll discover that even the elite of society can't live without a good pie.
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