2002-05-22 / Restaurant of the Week

Restaurant Of The Week

Sanford: A Great New Menu At A Community Stalwart
By Teresa Barile

Of The Week

The Sanford Restaurant (formerly Sanford Diner) has been a fixture on Broadway in Astoria for over 70 years and has consistently catered to the ever-changing tastes of the faithful clientele it serves. The sense of pride for community is carried on today by the current owners, brothers Gus and Chris Karalekas, who took over their dad's helm more than 11 years ago. The latest round of menu changes will make even the most jaded Manhattan diner take notice. Sanford offers Manhattan style dishes at low Astoria prices.

Everything is purchased fresh and made from scratch. That’s the secret to their delicious soups, salads and entrees. Since the Sanford Restaurant is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, anytime is a good time to stop in for a hearty meal at a low price.

The new entrée items are especially noteworthy. Some started as specials but gained such popularity that they had to be added to the regular menu. One such entrée is the sesame-crusted yellow fin tuna. This is sushi-grade tuna, encrusted with sesame seeds and seared about an eighth of an inch into the meaty fish. The inside remains pink and slightly cool, as it should be. The generous portion of tuna is then expertly sliced and served against a mound of fresh, wilted spinach and oven-roasted potatoes. A swirl of wasabi sauce makes this dish a feast for the eyes and the discerning palate. Best of all, this dish is only $12.95. (I've paid at least twice that in downtown restaurants.)

Some new appetizers include the warm artichoke and spinach dip, served bubbling hot in an earthenware crock. Dip into it with crunchy tortilla chips or spread it on bread. The California quesadilla is a melted masterpiece of chicken, guacamole, cheese and roasted peppers between two flour tortillas, perfect for sharing.

Back to the new entrees, the Sanford has also added creamy risotto, toothsome Italian Arborio rice, slowly cooked with three kinds of mushrooms or with shrimp and saffron for an unbelievable $11.95. How about tender ravioli stuffed with lump crab meat or with Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella? Add a glass of wine and you can't go wrong with either choice. There's also Mediterranean fettuccine, tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and white wine. Can't decide? Then share a pasta dish with your partner as a first course and move onto the entrees.

Sanford's fish is never frozen, and you'll notice the difference in their sun-dried tomato pesto Alaskan halibut, served over a medley of vegetables ($11.95). Char-grilled salmon is tossed over mesclun greens dressed with balsamic vinegar. Maryland crab cakes, made with sweet lump crab meat, are served with mesclun greens and tartar sauce.

If you prefer meat, sink your teeth into certified Black Angus steak au poivre, an 18-ounce shell steak encrusted with black peppercorns, then pan seared to your liking. You get a choice of potato with that but you won't want to miss the seasoned French fries with a Cajun kick. The steak frite is popular for its taste, texture and price ($16.95) with those fries. If you like your food spicy, the Cajun chicken breast served over black-eye bean salad is a real winner, ($11.95).

Lunchtime offers many delicious options, especially new homemade focaccia sandwiches, piled high with anything from roasted vegetables, chicken breast and pesto sauce to steak. The steak focaccia sandwich features sliced shell steak, avocado, red onion, tomato and cheddar cheese atop warm, freshly baked focaccia bread ($7.95). Herb chicken focaccia is topped with bacon and melted mozzarella for a satisfying meal. Served with French fries and cole slaw, this huge sandwich is perfect for dinner too. A variety of wraps stuffed with chicken, vegetables, or shrimp salad also satisfies a big appetite,. Of course, juicy burgers, triple-decker sandwiches and salads are made fresh to order and served quickly.

Come in for breakfast any day on your way to work or come for weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The $9.95 prix-fix menu includes champagne mimosa, juice, coffee, home fries and any entrée you desire, like fluffy omelets, blueberry pancakes, blueberry French toast, vegetable frittata, Cajun chicken salad or crab cakes Benedict.

Although you’ll be stuffed after a meal at the Sanford Restaurant, try to save room for one of their tantalizing desserts. Kudos to the mixed berry tart which combines three berries atop creamy custard baked in a cookie tart. Peanut butter pie is rich with chocolate and creamy peanut butter and the chocolate mousse cake is delicious. The rice pudding is also excellent, accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee or tea.

Enjoy upscale cuisine at workingman's prices and Astoria's local flavor at the Sanford Restaurant. Open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Sanford Restaurant

30-13 Broadway Astoria, NY


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