Tag Archives: Astoria

Not your average KFC


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

BY BRADLEY HAWKS

Yes, it is official. There is a new KFC on Broadway in Astoria. And by KFC, of course we mean Korean Fried Chicken. Specifically, fried chicken wings glazed in spicy Korean garlic sauce. But the fried chicken is such a miniscule part of what is being offered at the new Korean eatery, we focused on a whole selection of other dishes to share. The former 1-800-Flowers shop has now officially blossomed into Mokja.

“It’s a friendly way of saying, ‘Let’s Eat,’” explains one server.

Mokja is the sister to Korean Express, the more informal takeout restaurant in Manhattan. The Mokja menu features well over 50 items, covering a broader spectrum of Korea’s deliciously colorful cuisine.

While K-Pop bounces joyously overhead, don’t expect everything to follow tradition. The banchan—or side dishes—have been judiciously edited. A tandem ramekin will arrive at the table holding a delicate stack of kimchi and golden medallions of danmuji, better known as pickled daikon radish. These are intended to simply whet the palate and prepare you for the meal to come.

IMG_1674

So why not order something small to get the meal started? Like a pile of fries topped with kimchi, gochujang mayo and cilantro. Or perhaps Mokja’s intensely delicious version of steamed dumplings—or order them fried. In Korean, these little potstickers are called mandoo, and they make them at Mokja from scratch. A generous meatball of minced pork with vegetables and spices is wrapped in a thin pasta skin, pinched together into a half moon, and plopped in the steamer.

Soups and stews are also plentiful. One of the most robust versions is their Army Stew, a spicy bowl of kimchi, pork, tofu, spam, sausage, rice cakes and ramen noodles. Other classic dishes include versions of pajeon (scallion pancakes) and ddukboki (spicy rice cakes). And of course they serve a few tasty versions of bibimbap—the popular egg-topped Korean rice medley—which is even available in a stone bowl.

IMG_1604

The barbecue seems to be where the chef shines, and some of the most popular dishes include the kalbi (short ribs), pork bulbogi (thinly shaved marinated pork shoulder), pork belly and baby back ribs. Fried rice reigns supreme in a variety of combos as well. But we recommend trying the bulgogi sliders. Bulgogi literally translates to “fire meat” in Korean.

If you want to stay on the healthier side, perhaps you should try some of their fantastic japchae. Glass noodles made from sweet potatoes are sautéed with a blend of vegetables and your choice of meat. Hearty mushrooms and sprouts provide contrasting textures, and a scrambled egg is playfully laid across the top.

IMG_1582

For the time being, desserts are minimal (mochi and crème brûlée), and the restaurant is still awaiting a liquor license. The minimalistic décor includes several lovingly decorated chalkboard menus—one of which previews coming drinks (including soju), and another which maps out the architecture of a bibimbap burger, which will soon be on the menu in a new burger section.

Apparently, there are several things still to come. But in the meantime, there is plenty already there that will make you want to say, “Mokja!”

35-19 Broadway, Astoria
718-721-0654

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Community feedback leads to permanent bus service expansion along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

As they say, ask and you shall receive. Due to an immense amount of support from community members, it will now be easier to access the western Queens waterfront.

The MTA announced on Friday that weekend and increased weeknight service on the Q103 route, which runs down Vernon Boulevard between Astoria and Long Island City, will be permanently added after a successful pilot program started last June.

The service additions made during the experimental program include extending weeknight hours from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and adding service on Saturdays and Sundays from about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During a public hearing in December on the increased service, community support was unanimous, according to the MTA.

Local leaders and business owners saw the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods, which have seen a rise in new residential developments and expanded cultural attractions.

Some of the cultural spots that the bus serves include the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park.

“I am thrilled the MTA heeded my call to make Q103 service expansion permanent. Western Queens has long needed better bus service, so it is gratifying that the MTA responded to our concerns,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard-fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.”

The Q103 bus line also serves as the public’s only option to connect areas to subway stations such as the F line at 21 St–Queensbridge and the 7 line at Vernon Blvd–Jackson Av.

During the pilot program, ridership levels increased by 6.8 percent on weekdays compared to the five-month period before the trial, and by 30 percent compared to average weekday use in 2012, the MTA said. Currently weekday ridership is 1,100 customers, the average Saturday ridership is about 300, and on Sundays it is about 250.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Sussex Bank opens first NYC branch in Astoria


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Sussex Fat Cap Right picture

Sussex Bank held a grand opening on March 14 at its first New York City branch, located at 28-21 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

On hand for the festivities were Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, City Councilman Costa Constantinides and Vito Giannola, Sussex Bank’s executive vice president and chief retail officer.

The bank was founded in 1975 and has a strong foothold in the northern New Jersey marketplace. Sussex Bank President and CEO Tony Labozzetta said Astoria residents can expect a “high-tech, high touch” experience at the new branch, adding that “for me, the holy grail is finding that efficiency while maintaining a personal touch—combining the tools someone may need to bank anywhere, at any time—but you also have to be able to reach out to them so they know they are appreciated.”

Labozzetta is pictured with Dominick Pinto, owner of Ferrari Driving School; Joseph Giannola, local owner, developer, and real estate manager; Vito Giannola and Domenick Loccisano, Sussex vice president and business development sales manager.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Two men wanted in series of burglaries at Astoria community center


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Two men burglarized an Astoria community center over several days, getting away with pricey electronic items, according to authorities.

The burglaries occurred at the HANAC Community Services Center at 23-16 30th Ave. starting on March 6.

At about 10:30 a.m. that day, police said, the suspects — who are both described as being in their 20s — entered an office at the center and took an iPad 2.


The same two suspects returned to the center on March 8 at about 9 a.m. and stole a Sony camera and two more iPad 2s.

The following day, just after 8 a.m., according to police, the pair then broke into the center by prying open a rear window and grabbed some gift cards and assorted tools.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.  

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens World Film Festival celebrates fifth year’s opening night


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With the luck of the Irish, the Queens World Film Festival kicked off its fifth year of helping bring independent films to the big screen.

The six-day festival, which gives international and local filmmakers the opportunity to screen their films in Queens, celebrated its opening night on St. Patrick’s Day at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

Opening night featured five films, including two from local Queens filmmakers Jamil Lahham and Lisa Melodia. The films ranged from animation to short narratives. The night also included a bonus screening of Sundance Film Festival-winning film “World of Tomorrow,” which filled the room with laughter.

“I love this film festival because I love Queens, and everything and anything that is good starts right here in my home borough of Queens County. We do it right,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I admire and respect and really have come to love Don and Katha Cato because you can tell they pour everything, their heart and soul, into this festival.”

The Queens World Film Festival, which will run through March 22, is organized by husband-and-wife duo of Don and Katha Cato, and this year will feature a total of 117 films, with 19 works from Queens. The films include feature narratives, documentaries and LGBT pieces.

Through the week, the films will be sorted out into different blocks based on subject and will be shown at venues such as The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights and the Museum of the Moving Image.

“[Katha and Don] have literally catapulted this festival to heights that not many folks could have foreseen when they first started this,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “Katha and Don and all the folks that are involved in the arts have truly been using the diversity that we bring to this borough to catapult us in tourism.”

Opening night also recognized director Leon Ichaso, known for movies such as “El Cantante,” “Ali” and “Hendrix,” as a “Spirit of Queens” honoree. Don Cato said Ichaso, who has been called the “poet of Latin New York,” was receiving the awards for his artistry, integrity and humanity.

The festival will also present Ichaso’s film “Bitter Sugar” on Wednesday at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“To all the filmmakers that are here please don’t lose the hope, it’s a hard world making movies,[but] it’s worth it,” Ichaso said. “It is festivals like this that in that journey we can take a rest, we can show what we do, we can meet each other and thank God they exist and thank God for the Queens World Film Festival.”

Closing night of the festival will feature a screening of the film “Dukhtar (Daughter)” by Afia Nathaniel, followed by an award ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“Experience these films during our festival, talk about them,” said Don at the end of the night. “The films are the stars of this festival.”

For a full schedule of the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Suspect arrested in string of LIC, Astoria restaurant break-ins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

One man’s burglary spree has come to an end, as officers of the 114th and 108th precincts worked together to arrest him for allegedly breaking into businesses overnight in Long Island City and Astoria dating back to last June.

According to court records, each time 40-year-old Shameek Dunbar would break into the establishments through either a door or window, and once inside would take money, ranging from $20 to $1,000, from cash registers.

Dunbar was arrested on Feb. 25 at his home in Queensbridge when forensics evidence linked him to one of four burglaries in the confines of the 114th Precinct, a police source said.

Subsequent investigation linked him to seven more burglaries, these in the confines of the 108th Precinct.

“This was fantastic detective work,” said Capt. John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct. “It was good working together from both precincts.”

Criminal complaints detailed nine of the 11 incidents:

  • Between June 10, 2014, at 9 p.m. and June 11 at 9:30 a.m., Dunbar broke into Andres Pizza located at 25-19 40th Ave. through a glass door. He is observed through surveillance footage cutting wires on a cash register, worth about $450. The store owner alleges that $20 was taken from the register.
  • On Oct. 24, 2014, Dunbar broke into Tequila Sunrise located at 40-01 Northern Blvd. through a side window. The owner alleged $350 was taken from a cash register.
  • Between Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 3:12 a.m., the suspect entered Barista at 11-11 44th Rd. through a front glass door. Surveillance footage shows Dunbar throwing a rock at the door. He later took money.
  • On Jan. 2 between 3:04 and 4:18 a.m. Dunbar entered Hu Department Store located at 47-09 Northern Blvd. through the front door. Although the store owner alleged $1,000 was missing from the register, Dunbar said he tried to open the register but couldn’t and then left.
  • Between Jan. 18 at 11 p.m. and Jan. 19 at 4 a.m. Dunbar entered a business at 47-29 Vernon Blvd. through a window and surveillance shows him trying to pry open a register.
  • On Jan. 24 between 3:35 a.m. and 4:05 a.m. Dunbar broke into Pachanga Patterson located at 33-17 31st Ave. The store owner alleges $200 was missing from a cash register.
  • Between Jan. 31 at 10 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 3:17 a.m. the suspect broke into Petey’s Burger at 46-46 Vernon Blvd. through a side window. Surveillance footage shows him prying open a register and taking money.
  • Between Feb. 12 at 8:30 a.m. and Feb. 13 at 11:45 a.m., the suspect entered Breadbox Café at 47-11 11th St. through a door. He the used a screwdriver to pry open a register and took $300.
  • Between Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 22 at 3:45 a.m. the suspect entered Mix Nail Salon at 44-68 21st St. through the glass front door. Surveillance video shows the suspect entering the location, prying open a register and taking money.

Dunbar is facing charges of burglary, criminal mischief, possession of burglar tools, petit larceny, and for one of the incidents a charge of grand larceny.

He is due back in Queens Criminal Court on April 9. 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria community farm brings fresh, organic produce to backyards and roofs


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Anna Poaster/Rob McGrath

What in front looks like a regular apartment building off 21st Street in Astoria is actually home to a backyard community farm looking to grow beyond its original space and help educate others about growing their own food.

Hellgate Farm started in 2011 after Rob McGarth, an engineer by trade, purchased a building with a very large backyard. Once he started to grow his own food, he realized he was growing more than he could use.

For the first couple of seasons, McGarth managed the farm on his own and later teamed up with The Queens Kickshaw, located at 40-17 Broadway, to set up a pop-up farm stand in front of the store. 

What began as a side project for him then turned into something he wanted to focus more attention on and, by the fall of 2012, Anna Poaster came in as manager of the farm with a focus on growing vegetables. 

HellgateFood

The following year, a neighbor allowed the farm to expand into his yard. This got the team thinking about finding landowners in the Astoria and Long Island City area willing to allow them to go in and use backyard space to grow produce. In 2014, another neighbor around the block from the farm offered their space.

Now, Hellgate Farm has a total of four sites, including the original in McGrath’s backyard. One is on a rooftop of a Long Island City business. The growing of the sites then pushed the team to become a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), meaning landowners or “members” who offer their land to grow a farm/garden would receive a share of produce every week.

In its first year as a CSA, Hellgate Farm will work with landowners to grow organic vegetables and fruits and turn their underutilized backyards and rooftops into valuable garden space. In exchange for the work and care of the spaces, Hellgate Farm just asks landowners to pay for materials such as soil.

“I think people are really removed from their food, people don’t know what broccoli looks like when it grows,” Poaster said. “People are really into local foods. We are able to engage all these building owners who maybe have an interest in food, green space, and just making their space better for tenants and they really end up gaining a lot of education of what it is like to grow a garden.”

This year, Hellgate Farm plans to expand to two or three more gardens, with an emphasis on continuing to have open and personal communication with landowners.

Together with growing vegetables at the original site, Hellgate Farm also raises chickens, houses bees on the rooftop working with local beekeeper Tom Wilk, and has a garden on the roof as well. They have also partnered with local shops such as Astor Bake Shop and Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar to provide them with local fresh produce.

Manager Anna Poaster, Hellgate Farm Founder Rob McGrath, and intern Eric Dittmore. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Manager Anna Poaster, Hellgate Farm Founder Rob McGrath, and intern Eric Dittmore. (Photo by Paul Miller)

As the Hellgate Farm team, now consisting of volunteers and a live-in intern, gets ready for the 2015 season they have also turned to Kickstarter in hopes of raising a goal of $1,500 to purchase an electric wood chipper. The campaign has raised $420 since Monday.

The wood chipper would be used to turn the leaves and branches they remove during trimming and pruning the spaces into mulch that would be used on all the sites.

“It feels awesome. It really has been humbling to see how many people care about this thing,” Poaster said. “To see a lot of supporters is really touching.”

A lot goes into finding a site to convert into a farm or garden, according to Poaster, but they are open to finding more locations in the Astoria and LIC area. Hellgate Farm’s season goes from the beginning of June until the last week of October.

For more information visit hellgatefarm.com or email eric@hellgatefarm.com. To donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Career criminal busted for stealing airbags, hybrid battery pack in Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

A 48-year-old man, with more than 20 arrests in about two decades on his record, is now being charged with breaking into several cars and stealing airbags, and in one case a hybrid vehicle battery pack, according to authorities.

Peter C. Ali, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on March 5 and charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar’s tools, petit larceny and resisting arrest.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, on Dec. 28, 2014, Ali broke into a late model Toyota Camry yellow taxi parked on Queens Boulevard and 52nd Street in Woodside and removed the car’s hybrid battery pack, valued at about $4,000.

Later, on Feb. 25, Ali was allegedly seen using a flashlight to look into the interior of a silver Toyota Camry on the corner of 21st Street and 29th Avenue in Astoria before stealing the car’s airbag. The next day, Ali allegedly took another airbag from a 2010 Toyota minivan parked near Austin Street and Union Turnpike in Forest Hills.

Ali was caught on March 5 as officers of the Grand Larceny Unit witnessed him stealing an airbag from a car in Astoria , according to a police source.

The incident with the hybrid battery was one of 11 that have occurred in the confines of the 108th Precinct since November. During those incidents, car thieves walked away with the expensive batteries from the trunks of the vehicles. The investigation for the remaining 10 cases is ongoing.

Ali is currently being held on $100,000 bail and his next court date is scheduled for March 18. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Five sought in Astoria nightclub fight


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A fight at an Astoria nightclub Friday sent three stabbing victims to the hospital, and police continue to seek five men for questioning, authorities said.

The violence began about 3 a.m. inside Purlieu on 34th Street near 36th Avenue, during a party for the rapper Chedda Da Connect, according to the Daily News.

During the brawl, a 29-year-old man was stabbed in the abdomen and chest, a 20-year-old man was stabbed in his chest and a 28-year-old male was stabbed in his shoulder, police said. The three men were also robbed of their cellphones and jewelry as the fight was happening.

EMS took the victims to area hospitals in stable condition.

Police have released photos of five men wanted for questioning in the assault. It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the fight.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Police looking for suspect in string of NYC cellphone store thefts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A cellphone thief has been swiping high-priced devices from stores around the city — including three businesses in Queens — for more than a year, police said.

Each time the male suspect steals a phone by cutting the security wires and grabbing the item before fleeing on foot, according to authorities.

Police say the crime spree started as far back as December 8, 2013, at an AT&T store located at 39-15 Main St. in Flushing, where the suspect took a Samsung Galaxy Note II.

The same man didn’t strike again until August 4, 2014, when he allegedly took a Samsung Galaxy S4 from another AT&T store, located at 30-67 Steinway St. in Astoria.

He returned to the same Main Street AT&T store on August 16 and February 4, stealing a Samsung Galaxy S5 both times.

The suspect is also accused of taking an iPhone and iPad from a T-Mobile store at 82-19 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights on Jan. 5, along with an AT&T store on Canal Street in Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach in October. Police have released photos from the Jan. 5 incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

‘Law & Order: SVU,’ ‘Chicago P.D.’ crossover episode films in Astoria


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Police cars lined up on 29th Street in Astoria Monday morning as members of the elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit tried to solve another crime with the help of some friends from Chicago — all for an upcoming episode of “Law & Order: SVU.”

Crews were set up in a courtyard amid four buildings on 29th Street between Broadway and 31st Avenue filming a scene for the 19th episode of season 16 of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

The episode is part of NBC’s second three-way crossover of “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Law & Order: SVU.” The three dramas first came together in a November episode.

The Astoria morning scene featured leading lady of “Law & Order” Mariska Hargitay as Sergeant Olivia Benson, and Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) and Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) of “Chicago P.D.”

Also on set was “Law & Order: SVU” newcomer Peter Scanavino, who portrays Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi and just joined the cast this season.

A release date for the crossover episode is yet to be announced. Episode 17 is scheduled for March 25. Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Actress Mariska Hargitay on the set of "Law & Order: SVU" in Astoria.

Actress Mariska Hargitay on the set of “Law & Order: SVU” in Astoria.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens World Film Festival to kick off fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy Jamil Lahham

Along with recent celebrity sightings, including Oscar winner George Clooney, Astoria is ready to continue shining with this year’s Queens World Film Festival — bringing over a hundred unique local and international films to the booming borough.

The festival, celebrating its fifth year running, will take place from March 17 through March 22 and feature 117 films, with 19 works from Queens. The films include short and feature narrative, documentaries, animation and LGBT pieces.

“It will be a week of something for everyone,” said festival director Katha Cato, who arranges the event along with her husband Don and a group of volunteers. “I’m so excited about the caliber of what we are about to expose Queens to.”

This year the six-day festival, which officially received a nonprofit status this year, brought in over 400 submissions from across the nation and around the world.

“Five [years] just feels like I can breathe a little bit. We made it to year five and that’s important,” Cato said. “We are experiencing and feeling it.”

The festival begins on March 17 at 8 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria. The evening will feature a block of six films, including two from Queens filmmakers.

“You can do any kind of shot and any type you want in Queens, to represent any nation or any demographic. You can find it somewhere, somehow in this borough,” Cato said. “You can create a lot of different worlds here and with these studios starting to understand that and with a film festival, this could be a huge industry here in this borough.”

The short narrative "Short Steps" by Queens filmmaker Laura Aguinaga is one of 19 Queens films at the film festival.

The short narrative “Short Steps” by Queens filmmaker Laura Aguinaga is one of 19 Queens films at the film festival.

Opening night will also recognize director Leon Ichaso, known for movies such as “El Cantante” starring Jennifer Lopez, as a “Spirit of Queens” honoree. The festival will also present Ichaso’s film “Bitter Sugar” on March 18 at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Throughout the festival, the independent films will be divided into different blocks based on subject and shown at venues such as The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, and, for the first time, daily showings at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“It’s about pairing [the films] together to create the proper context so they all look, sound and feel the way the filmmaker wanted it,” Cato said. “And we are creating community within these filmmakers who are perhaps on the same journey and might perhaps work together [in the future].”

Closing night of the festival will feature a screening of the film “Dukhtar (Daughter)” by Afia Nathaniel and be followed by an award ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“I just hope everyone knows that a lot of love went into this festival and we’re going to fix any mistakes we encounter, but we want you to really experience the films,” Cato added. “Just experience them, don’t judge them. It’s a different medium, there aren’t studio films.”

Tickets for opening night and the rest of the festival are still available at www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

George Clooney, Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola stop by Astoria’s Taverna Kyclades


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos via Instagram/tavernakyclades

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO 

Updated 2:55 p.m.

Astoria is becoming the next Hollywood hot spot.

Bill Murray brought some of his famous friends to Astoria’s Taverna Kyclades restaurant this week, including George Clooney, who was just spotted filming his latest movie in the neighborhood.

Murray must be a fan of the eatery, located at 33-07 Ditmars Blvd. and known for its fresh fish and Greek fare, because he stopped in twice with his film buddies.

On Monday, he came by during lunchtime with Sofia Coppola, who directed Murray in “Lost in Translation.” They were also accompanied by a man who appeared to be her brother — writer, director and producer Roman Coppola — and a group of four to five people. They stayed for about 30 minutes, according to waiter Nikolaos Tsarouhas.

He said the staff was surprised when Murray walked in and so were the customers.

“I saw him and I remembered him from the movie ‘Ghostbusters,’” he said. “He was really nice, very kind and quiet.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The following day, during lunchtime again, according to the restaurant’s Twitter, Murray “loved [Taverna] so much he brought a friend.” And that friend was Clooney, who is in town to shoot “Money Monster,” co-starring Julia Roberts, Page Six reported.

Clooney is filming scenes for the Jodi Foster-directed thriller at the nearby Kaufman Astoria Studios, according to the Daily Mail.

The Oscar winner recently directed and acted with Murray in the 2014 WWII drama “The Monuments Men.” Murray even gave a toast at Clooney’s wedding to Amal Alamuddin last fall.

This is the first time that any of the actors have been to the restaurant, Tsarouhas said.

But star sightings in Astoria and other areas of Queens are becoming increasingly common as more TV and movie producers are choosing to film on local streets and at area studios such as Kaufman Astoria and Silvercup.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria Boulevard development site sold, will become new residential building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

An Astoria development site was sold for $4.8 million and will be transformed into a residential building, according to real estate firm Modern Spaces.

The lot at 8-25 Astoria Blvd. offers up to 33,751 buildable square feet, the real estate firm said.

A Modern Spaces team of Evan Daniel, Edward DiTomasso and Alice Chan represented the buyer and seller. Daniel said the new owner has the intent to use the site for residential development.

The sale equates to about $142 per buildable square feet, which is much less than land values in nearby Long Island City.

Partly because of the lower land prices, Astoria has become a hot neighborhood for development. Not far from the site, the Hallets Point and Astoria Cove mega projects will bring about 4,000 units, and hundreds of other apartments are planned around the area.

“Northwest Astoria remains relatively undeveloped but with several major projects in the pipeline, this area contains some hidden jewels for developers both local and abroad,” said Daniel, executive vice president of the real estate firm’s commercial division. “With land values in neighboring Long Island City hovering around $250 per buildable square foot, some may actually view the price point of this property, and several around it, as a ‘bargain.’”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Dining: The Don of a new day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

BY BRADLEY HAWKS

It feels like the tiny entrance to a tiny home. Tiny plants and miniature statues crowd the front window. Paper ornaments hang from one wall, with a chalkboard displayed on the other. There are only four stools, and one of them is pulled in front of the counter to hold a stack of menus — menus that have been modified, with several items covered in thin strips of paper to conceal menu items that have been abandoned or reworked.

“It’s a work in progress,” smiles the chef from around the corner.

IMG_9227

This peculiar little space is the home of Don Korean Cuisine, and it’s one of several new Korean kitchens appearing on the scene in western Queens. The place may be small, and the consulting chef may be perpetually tweaking the menu, but in the month since they have opened that have drawn quite a crowd — especially in deliveries.

On one visit, I started with Ddeokbokki — Korean rice cakes that look and taste like wonderfully chubby pieces of spaghetti the length and width of a baby carrot. These chewy little cylinders come swimming in a spicy hot pepper sauce. Though I avoid the actual glistening, fiery peppers, the heat is intense, yet wonderfully enjoyable. Mixed with crumbles of pork sausage and thin shavings of roasted garlic, it reminds me of a spicy take on a Bolognese with astonishingly portly noodles. I devour the entire bowl, and extinguish the fire on my tongue with a $1.50 box of banana milk.

“I am from Korea, and the bibimbap here is fantastic,” boasts the cashier on my next visit, “but you should try the bibim burger, I think.” I take her advice, and am giddy over the rustic garlic baguette stacked with a beef patty, thin ribbons of carrots and cucumber, those same garlic crisps, bean sprouts, and gorgeous fried egg — all of which are zigzagged with a blend of hot sauce and something much like a homemade ranch.

IMG_9193

Kimchi arrives in spicy variations of cabbage, cucumber and even mango. I order the classic version on a pile of French fries, and the result is addictive.

Kimbap arrives like Korean sushi, and the rice is exceptional. Sweet grains are wrapped around swirls of pickled daikon, burdock, cucumber, carrots, jalapeno and cream cheese. Korean tacos are filled with honey-marinated chicken, and shredded pork is hand-pulled over rice. Glistening whole chicken wings are dressed in lemongrass or roasted garlic honey sauce. Rice is piled with BBQ pork ribs or grilled, sliced ribeye. And you simply can’t miss the brisket soup with broth rendered from beef bones, swirling around tiny rice noodles, cilantro, scallion and sprouts.
It is an admittedly teeny, tiny space. You might pass it if you blink. But then again, sometimes the best things come in small packages.

IMG_9141

Don Korean
42-06 30th Ave., Astoria
718-777-8838

RECOMMENDED STORIES