Pinocchio Palace Celebrates 20 Years Of Good Food
Some 20 years ago, Nico Gregorious opened a simple sandwich shop in Astoria to satisfy the hunger of the many Greek and Cypriot immigrants who had made Astoria their home. Since then, his business has grown into a full-service restaurant, now eight years at its current location. The clientele has also grown to include younger transplants from a distant land known as Manhattan, and parents with young children who come for the great food, served in family sized portions. While the menu emphasizes fresh, healthy Greek and Cypriot dishes, several well-prepared Italian dishes are to home or office is available.
Enjoy a glass of house wine or icecold beer while you sample some of Pinocchio's famous appetizers. The tender, grilled octopus is cooked to perfection and goes well with an order of their crispy, tender fried calamari rings ($6.95). One of my favorites is a savory treat called saganaki, a slab of tangy haloumi cheese sauted in sweet brandy that melts in your mouth ($7.50). Try some Mediterranean dips such as eggplant, taramosalata and tahini, all perfect for scooping up with warm triangles of pita bread or Pinocchio's own house made bread. Sheftalia, handmade sausages, made with ground pork and spices, are tender and tasty when grilled. You can also try the flaky spinach and feta cheese pies. An impressive Cypriot salad is made of lots of baby greens tossed with chunks of creamy feta cheese, olives and red onion topped with a zesty dressing. Bea, the friendly waitress, will tell you about the house made soup of the day.
The staff at Pinocchio Palace is proud of the fresh fish dishes, which comprise a big part of the Mediterranean diet, especially during the Lenten season. Porgy, a popular fish, is grilled whole with lemon and olive oil or prepared as a fillet. I enjoyed a flaky striped bass fillet, baked in the oven with tomatoes, onions and capers. Side dishes include vegetables such as horta (dandelion greens) sauted in garlic, or green beans stewed with tomatoes and garlic. Greek style lemon roasted potatoes are a real treat, too, or choose rice as a side dish. Try the fish and seafood kebab, several plump, jumbo shrimp, enormous, juicy scallops and chunks of flaky flounder fillet cooked on a skewer. An olive oil and lemon marinade makes this a light and healthy meal. Check their blackboard for specials of the day.
At lunchtime or any time, try the souvlaki or gyro sandwiches that put Pinocchio's on the map. Juicy pork, beef or chicken is piled onto warm pita bread and topped with chopped salad and tzatzkiki sauce for just $4.95. These sandwiches can be ordered as a platter as well, served with Greek salad and French fries. Juicy lamb chops and club steak are available every day, as are tender quail on the grill. Juicy hamburgers and turkey burgers are also available.
Pasta fans will love Pinocchio's freshly made pasta dishes and families will love the price for the family sized portions. Fettuccine alla Toscana, tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, white wine and parmesan cheese, costs $10.50 for an individual serving and $20.75 for a family serving. Linguine chicken Romana with artichokes, diced chicken and sun-dried tomatoes is another great dish ($11.50/$21). Linguine with red or white clam sauce is also a great family meal. Don't cook tonight--come to Pinocchio Palace.
Pinocchio also makes crisp-crusted brick oven pizzas. Only fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are used, and you can choose a number of your favorite toppings such as prosciutto, olives or sausage for a great lunch or dinner. Kids and adults alike all love the pizza here.
At lunchtime, try one of their fresh wrap sandwiches, stuffed with grilled chicken and Caesar salad, grilled steak or shrimp and greens. Burritos filled with cheese, chicken or shrimp at around $5.50 have also become quite popular.
Pinocchio makes their own desserts so finish your meal with some steaming hot coffee, cappuccino or Greek coffee and a slice of Hungarian style apple cake, a dish of creamy rice pudding or decadent baklava. If it's available, try a slice of lavani, a semolina cake soaked with honey.
Pinocchio Palace is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. They will deliver until midnight for your convenience. The airy dining room can accommodate large groups and private parties up to 50 people, and Gregorious has a special catering menu to suit all your needs. He'll be happy to cater any party, anywhere.
Bring your friends and family to Pinocchio Palace Restaurant. Pinocchio Palace has great food, friendly service and low prices. Soon the outdoor area will be open for you to enjoy dining al fresco as well.
Pinocchio Palace 32-02 30th Ave.