Tag Archives: Steinway Street

The Doe Fund to help clean more Astoria streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

More Astoria streets are getting cleaner thanks to the “men in blue.”

After hearing positive feedback from residents and business owners, The Doe Fund, which was initially brought to the western Queens neighborhood in April, will now expand street sweeping services to Steinway Street, Newtown Road, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Thursday.

“This will be a boon to residents and small business owners across Astoria. The ‘men in blue’ will continue to provide reinforcements and additional resources to help keep Astoria clean,” said Constantinides, who has allocated over $130,000 for street sweeping by The Doe Fund as part of the new city-wide initiative Clean NYC.

The nonprofit organization, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing, and Able transitional work program, was keeping the sidewalks clean and clearing the corner trash cans along 30th Avenue, Broadway and 31st Street.

“This program will increase the quality of life in Astoria, that’s the most important. Clean the street, find new jobs and community come together to be concerned about the quality of life,” said Ahmed Jamil, president of the Muslim American Society. “At the end of the day [before] you [saw] the garbage on the streets and you now don’t see it anymore.”

Although the Department of Sanitation collects trash from corner trash cans once per day in Astoria, the expansion of The Doe Fund helps alleviate the trash and littered streets which have previously caused problems in the neighborhood, such as sidewalk accessibility and shopping issues, according to Constantinides.

“The Doe Fund, combined with community street and graffiti clean-ups, will continue to make a difference in our district and across the city,” said Constantinides, who has also allocated $30,000 in funding for graffiti removal services. “Clean streets and buildings make our neighborhood more enjoyable and inviting—a win for everyone.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

The best of the wurst


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

BRADLEY HAWKS

While Astoria holds bragging rights on two of the city’s most popular beer gardens, 30th Avenue’s Max Bratwurst Und Bier introduces traditional German biergarten fare to the neighborhood on a deliciously new level. Max is just a smidge off the beaten path on 30th Avenue west of Steinway Street — but if you hike up your lederhosen and make the trek, you just might find your kind of wunderbar.

Max is mostly indoors, yet two walls open completely to a large wrap-around patio. They also boast a private party room downstairs chock-full of old school picnic tables. But who comes just for the furniture? Enormous, plump, warm homemade pretzels arrive with three varieties of mustard and a generous dollop of obazda — a traditional Oktoberfest cheese spread that is creamy, buttery and peppery.

Thick, velvety potato soup is delivered in a miniature crock and can be brattopped with sliced medallions of knockwurst. The soup is quite memorable, but these bangers are meant to be far more than a soup crouton.

The sausages are separated into three groups, including a Max Line of housemade franks. The Gourmet Line ranges from andouille to brats stuffed with jalapenos, blue cheese, or a blend of cheeses and beer. But the Exotic Line is the one that has people talking — including brats made of alligator, and even a klapperschlangenbratwurst made of rattlesnake and pork. Any of these dogs can be transformed into a Berlin-style currywurst for two bucks, which gets them a slathering of sauce and a sprinkling of curry powder. They can also be topped with a full range of cabbage, krauts, peppers and onions.

The menu is rounded out with a variety of schnitzel, from pork and chicken to veal. The meat is generously pounded out, then breaded and fried for what might be considered the most delicious cutlets in the neighborhood. You can also have them smothered with a creamy mushroom gravy or gypsy sauce — a blend of tomatoes and red peppers.

Several burgers join the lineup as well, and the Bavarian arrives topped with onions, cheese and two Nuernberger sausages. Lovers of loaf will literally drool over the leberkaese — a pan-grilled Bavarian meatloaf topped with a fried egg, sort of like gourmet fried bologna.

Kartoffelpuffer — better known as potato pancakes — are exceptionally large, gorgeously golden patties of spuds, which are served with ramekins of sour cream and slightly sweet applesauce. And do not ignore the other side dishes, the best of which is the kaesespaetzle, a heaping portion of crumpled little bits of German pasta tossed in melted Swiss cheese and bacon. Potato salads are prepared in both Berlin and Munich styles, but the potatoes can also be fried or mashed.

Nearly 30 imported beers range from $4 drafts of Spaten to $5 bottles of Bitburger and even a $59 bottle of DEUS. Or try the Spezi, a blend of Fanta and Coke. Desserts offer subtly sweet endings, from strudel and mousse to vanilla ice cream with warm raspberries, or a stack of kaiserschmarnn — traditional emperor’s cake with rum and raisins. What’s not to liebe?


Max Bratwurst Und Bier
47-02 30th Ave., Astoria
718-777-1635

 

MORE DINING PROFILES

 

When offal is far from awful


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

Mombar is settled in the middle of a segment of Steinway Street known as Little Egypt.  Twenty years ago it was just a copy shop, on a stretch of road filled primarily with Greek and Italian businesses.  Its transition to one of the most talked about destinations for Southern Egyptian cuisine probably played no small part in inspiring the neighborhood to become what it is today—a string of cafes, restaurants and shops studded with hookah in every size, shape, and color.  Halal shops feature various meats on skewers, warm pita accompanying crushed lentils and chickpeas, and strong coffee served with honey-soaked pastries.

Mombar pops out to any pedestrian walking down the street. Designed and run by chef/owner Mustafa El Sayed (his brother, Ali, runs the Kabab Cafe a few doors down), the whimsical storefront and dining room took seven years to decorate, and features a kaleidoscope of mosaics, mugs, children’s-crayon-drawings, pillows and tapestries, creating the playful ambiance of a Technicolor cantina.

The array of menu offerings is equally whimsical, though each individual dish is fairly straightforward.  This is not the place to come for fusion, or an Americanized rendition of Egyptian cuisine hidden beneath sauces or cheese.  This is the stuff of serious Egyptian culinary purity, and won’t taste like anything comparable to the unfamiliar palate.

Moustafa himself prepares each and every plate to order, so expect to make an evening of it.  Appetizers range from $7 to $8, and entrees are $12 to $25.  A tasting menu is available for $30 per person.  You can also build your own tasting, simply by giving your server a set price in which you’d like to work.

Lamb testicles are boiled, then peeled and sautéed in a lemon-garlic cream sauce—something like an extremely tender herbed chicken sausage meatball.  The server stirs a quail egg into a clay pot of lamb cheek, which tastes extremely similar to a hearty Bolognese sauce, served with toasted pita points.  Da-jaj bel-zitoon arrives in a clay pot of savory chicken tajeen with stewed olives and vegetables. The roasted rack of lamb, braised in butter and spices and blanketed in wilted greens, literally falls off the bone.

Beer and wine are available, but be sure to try the hibiscus tea, made with hibiscus imported from southern Egypt.  Or a mango lassi, which arrives unstirred, a swirl of salty and sweet.

On a visit to try the El Sayed’s cuisine, chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain expressed his envy of those fortunate enough to live nearby. There’s nothing quite like this anywhere else, that’s for certain. But for the adventurous diner, it’s well worth a trip to Astoria for the experience.

Mombar
25-22 Steinway Street, Astoria
5-11 p.m. daily except Mondays
718-726-2356
Cash Only

BRADLEY HAWKS

 

MORE DINING PROFILES

Astoria Egyptians divided over unrest overseas


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

There is a split on Steinway Street.

Egyptian Americans on the commercial strip in Astoria, known by some as Little Egypt with its numerous cafes and hookah lounges, are divided on who should rule their home country as the unrest between the military and protestors rages on.

All, of course, are concerned for the well-being of their families and loved ones overseas, with hundreds killed and thousands injured.

“I tell them be careful, be safe and respect the law,” Astoria resident Mostafa Gad said, referring to his nephews obeying the 7 p.m. curfew in Egypt set by the military.

The tense situation started over a month ago when the Army took control of President Mohamed Morsi’s government by force and established an interim government.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood party, which Morsi belongs to, began rallies and sit-ins for his reinstitution, to which the Army responded with tear gas and bullets.

While some Egyptians around Astoria want the reinstallation of Morsi, who was elected last year in Egypt’s first-ever Democratic election, most identify with the Army, led by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

They believe that Morsi didn’t run the country well while in office and they hope the military drives the Brotherhood from power and gives Egypt a taste of religious freedom, much like America.

“I don’t want to be ruled by a Muslim government,” said Astoria resident Gamal Omram, who said he is Muslim. “They control you.”

Recently, Islamist protestors of Morsi’s ouster burned dozens of Christian churches, which is the religious minority in Egypt.

Morsi supporters may be in the minority in Little Egypt, but they don’t believe that they have lost the majority of Egyptian support in the country.

Supporters of the Brotherhood feel that since Morsi was Democratically elected what the Army is doing now is just a coup.

“How do you get to call that a revolution,” asked Astoria resident Ahmed Shafei, “Legitimacy is something that is voted upon, not what the Army chooses.”

President Barack Obama stopped short of calling the military takeover a coup in a recent speech, but suspended a joint military event. The U.S. government is also withholding more than $1 billion in annual aid to Egypt while the fighting persists.

Little Egypt is also divided on if America should respond. Those in support of the revolution want America to “let Egyptian people decide their destiny.”

But Morsi supporters are calling for the U.S. to stop the Army.

“We see that this is a bloody coup,” said Sherif Ahmed, who owns Zaitoun grocery store on Steinway Street and is the director of the New York chapter of Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights. “This is reminiscent of the [Hosni] Mubarak regime. This is the same system that is trying to take over again.”

One thing both sides agree on is that they don’t want the death toll to increase.

“We are all Egyptian,” Omram said. “I don’t want to see blood spilled both ways. It hurts me when I see somebody killed.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Crisis at home leads to new wave of Greek immigrants


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sophia Rosenbaum

BY SOPHIA ROSENBAUM

Dimitris Velitsianos couldn’t find work in his Greek homeland, so he left to seek a better life in Queens.

“I don’t think things are going to get better in Greece soon,” said Velitsianos, 20, a full-time student at John Jay College and a part-time waiter at Agnanti. “I don’t see any future in Greece.”

Four decades ago, a political coup brought thousands of Greeks to Astoria. Now, a failing economy that’s more than $400 billion in debt is fueling a recent wave of immigration.

Numbers are hard to come by, but the signs of a Greek surge in Astoria are everywhere: Enrollment numbers are up at the local Greek-American elementary school. Greek restaurants are flooded with job applications. A local nonprofit immigration center has seen a 25 to 50 percent increase in recently arrived Greeks.

“People tend to gravitate where they feel comfortable,” said Antonio Meloni, the executive director of immigration advocacy services at the Immigration Outreach Center on Steinway Street.

Astoria’s Greek population peaked in the 1970s – with about 250,000 Greeks arriving between 1965 and 1980. But the area has since turned into a mosaic of cultures, said Nicholas Alexiou, a professor at Queens College who studies the Greek conflict and Greek-American life.

For many Greeks, smells of pungent olives, sharp feta and savory lamb at authentic restaurants in Astoria are reminders of their homeland.

Lifelong Astoria resident Fay Lanbrianidis, 29, recently opened a café across the street from Agnanti, her parent’s restaurant, which has seen an increase in job seekers from Greece.

“Within the past three months, people just walk into the restaurant asking for a job,” she said. “We could say a good three to four per day that are coming in to ask for jobs.”

Betsy Sideris, assistant principal of St. Demetrios Elementary in Astoria, said the spike in Greek students has gone from three to 15 students this school year.

Sideris said in the past, the Greek government funded teachers from Greece for three-year teaching stints, but discontinued that program this year.

“The loss of the Greek government’s assistance added $250,000 to our budget to pay teachers’ salaries,” Sideris said.

While Panourgia acknowledged Greeks gravitate to Astoria because of the tight-knit community, she added that this same sense of community is what is keeping many others in Greece.

“Things are desperate in Greece,” she said. “But there is a real commitment to the country.”

The people feeling the biggest squeeze by the current crisis are the old and young, as programs get slashed and new opportunities dwindle, said Anthanasios Aronis, the president of the culture committee at the Federation of Hellenic Societies.

Like Sideris, Aronis gets calls from young professionals desperate to leave Greece and come to America. But, Aronis said, the reality is that these educated workers wind up getting jobs as waiters and cashiers.

“These people that are hurting right now are college graduates and it’s very difficult for them to come here and be a waiter,” he said.

While many Greeks are headed towards America, Lanbrianidis and Panourgia still dream of one day living in Greece.

“It’s actually one of my big dreams because the quality of life is ridiculous,” Lanbrianidis said. “You won’t get that quality of life here, unless you’re super rich.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Burglar pulls dentist office heist


| editorial@queenscourier.com

This burglar clearly doesn’t fear the dentist’s office.

A crook broke into a Queens dental office and stole a laptop and syringes, cops said.

The thief, caught in this surveillance video, climbed into an unlocked window of Steinway Family Dental in Astoria on Steinway Street, near 34th Avenue, about 3:50 a.m. Friday, according to NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel.

Police said the suspect wore dark jeans, white sneakers, and a light-colored jacket that reads “USA 928” on the back during the heist.
[New York Post]

Police Looking For 3 Suspects Wanted In Queens Pharmacy Robbery


| jlane@queenscourier.com

pharmacy-robbery-suspects

Police in Queens are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying three suspects wanted for a grand larceny at a pharmacy.

The incident occurred on April 20 at a Rite Aid on Steinway Street in Astoria.  Police said the suspects took a number of high-priced items, including Rogaine, Zyrtec, Crest White Strips, Allegra and Mucinex, and then fled the location.

Police have released a surveillance image of the suspects and hope someone will recognize them.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website atWWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Police search for Astoria grand larceny suspect


| brennison@queenscourier.com

RMA#244-12 114 pdu GL 3-1-12

Police are seeking a suspect wanted in connection with an Astoria grand larceny.

The suspect used a stolen credit card at the Steinway Street Wendy’s during the afternoon of Wednesday, February 8, police said.

Police described the suspect as a heavy set white or Hispanic male in his early 30s.

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

Steinway Street Swarmed by Shoppers on Black Friday


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Shoppers swarmed Steinway Street on November 25, searching to save some green on the “blackest” day of the year.

Black Friday took Astoria by storm, as hundreds of residents shopped at stores along one of the neighborhood’s premier streets. Among the shops that offered significant savings were P.C. Richard & Son, GameStop, Gap, Express, Foot Locker and Modell’s.  

“I think all the stores are doing really well this year,” said Renee Borys, who was shopping for clothes and toys for her nephews. “I’m very impressed with the deals. Hopefully I’ll save money today. I couldn’t get up really early this morning. I work in the city and I went to the Toys “R” Us in Times Square last night and it was crazy. It took two and a half hours to get into the electronics section. Black Friday on Steinway Street is way better, and Queens overall is better than the city.”

For some shoppers, Black Friday signals the start to “the most wonderful time of the year.”

“I’m hoping to get good deals here today,” said Martha Jacome, a resident of Ridgewood. “I love the excitement of Black Friday. For me, it means the beginning of Christmas.”

Others were unimpressed with the discount opportunities – treating one of the busiest shopping days of the year as if it were any other Friday.

“I don’t buy into this whole Black Friday thing – it is too crazy,” said Atlas Kalmeta, who was visiting P.C. Richard & Son to purchase touch-up paint. “Peoples’ priorities are all wrong. The commercialism is ridiculous. People are willing to kill each other for electronics. It is not a priority for me.”

Steinway Street goes Green


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

doc4e7ca102423be232431865

Astoria’s green initiative is also beautifying the neighborhood.

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Senator Michael Gianaris, Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy and members of the Steinway Astoria Partnership united on September 15 for the unveiling of several environmentally-friendly additions to Steinway Street.

Among the improvements are new plants and flower baskets lining the street, and benches composed of recycled plastic that are replicas of those used during the 1964 World’s Fair.

“It’s fitting that the heart of Astoria’s shopping district, lined with both individually-owned shops and chain stores, would receive replica 1964 World’s Fair benches made of recycled materials,” said Vallone. “Steinway Street preserves small business values from a past era, with a modern twist.