I had two very different meals this weekend, both of which were very good.
The first one was Italian, Ligurian to be specific, from the Atlas Cafe‘s new part-time dinner menu. Yup, from Tuesday through Sunday, Chef Andrea Milazzo is preparing simple, ridiculously affordable food from his hometown region (about half an hour north of Genoa). My date had shrimp and zucchini over fettucine and I had cheese, fava beans and peppercorn over bucatini (which is awesome hollow spaghetti, great for making slurping noises); both were somehow light and rich at the same time, and were definitely the best $9 entrees we’ve had in years. (On top of the obviously great food, Atlas is enticing diners with specials like Tuesday night’s “free glass of wine with an entree”; that’s how much confidence they have in the food, and so they should.)
The second meal was up in Astoria. PEOPLE WERE SPEAKING GREEK!
Agnanti sits on the corner of Ditmars and the lovely rolling Astoria Park (home to the largest pool in the city), and the line-up when we got there was fair testament to how great this place is. I was in a party of seven, so we all just kind of freaked out and ordered tons of small plates (we asked the waitress if there was a good way to organize our order and she just said, “No, you’ll have to be like a family and just sort it all out…”), and the food seemed to keep coming for hours. There were standouts, like mushroom kalitsounia, sigar bourek and a refreshingly not-too-salty saganaki, but what amazed us all was the shockingly addictive quality of the basics: never had anyone had such good skordalia or tzatziki, along with something called Santorini fava (mashed and spiced fava beans), which had us racing through multiple baskets of bread. The whole meal lasted four hours, and they threw in a big plate of honeyed cake for dessert, on the house, which we all shared. LIKE A FAMILY.
You should go eat these places, like, right now.