2008-09-17 / Restaurant of the Week

UNCLE GEORGE'S GREEK TAVERN

33-19 Broadway, Astoria (at 34th Street) 718.626.0593 www.unclegeorges.us

t he menu at this landmark restaurant recounts its humble history: "Uncle George's Greek Taverna was founded by who else but George himself in 1978. It was the beginning of a very successful story, due to his personality and charisma. The

food, of course, was nothing less

than excellent and fully authentic Greek cuisine, thanks to George's wife, Maria." Uncle George's promise to give them lots of good food for a low price still holds true today, 30 years later. And this flavorful Greek cuisine is served seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

To begin, we ordered a carafe of the house red, served in a brightly colored tin pitcher. An assortment of their fresh dips, including creamy

taramosalta (caviar), skordalia (potato and garlic), fava bean dip and melitzanosalata (eggplant) was all swiftly scooped up with triangles of warm pita bread. A slab of savory kefalograviera cheese is sautéed with brandy to create a delectable dish, finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Fresh octopus, stewed in vinaigrette is marvelously tender and perfect for sharing with warm, crusty bread. Shrimp saganaki is prepared with cheese and tomato with delicate herbs. Order a crunchy Greek salad for the table or sample some house made soup. Patrons at Uncle George's come from all over the tri-state area for the freshest meats and fish, all cooked in the traditional Greek style. At the

front of the restaurant, a specially engineered rotisserie grill was designed and installed that simultaneously cooks six spits containing the most tender and succulent lamb, pork and chicken. This charcoal barbecue renders some of the best tasting meats and fish you'll ever try. In the rear, a refrigerated case displays the freshest fish and seafood of the day, including red snapper, bronzino, porgy and plump, juicy shrimp. Your favorite fish is grilled on the spot and can be filleted table-side if you wish. A drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon bring out the flavor of the sea and goes well with accompanying rice, their famous lemon potatoes or crispy French fries.

Barbecued lamb, carved from the rotisserie where it has been slow roasted for hours, is something to write home about. A generous portion is heaped on your plate with a side order of lemon potatoes, sweetened with lemon and olive oil. Order a side dish of "orta," sautéed dandelion greens with a slightly bitter taste. Even chicken is made special by Uncle George's secret marinade and rotisserie cooking. Other traditional dishes include roast leg of lamb with orzo, pastitsio, moussaka and souvlaki plates made with chunks of chicken or pork.

Each night of the week features daily specials such as Monday's zucchini stuffed with rice and beef ($9.50), Tuesday's baked fish with onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Lamb stew with spinach is an old fashioned dish offered on Thursday and Sunday. Stuffed tomatoes or peppers filled with rice make a great vegetarian choice ($8). Any day of the week, try charcoal grilled, thick cut pork chops or a juicy steak served with crispy french fries.

Prices are kept low because Uncle George's accepts cash only. They are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day to serve the steady volume of patrons who come in around the clock. Bring your family, your friends and a great big appetite for traditional Greek cooking in a casual, family setting. The service is fast and professional and a meal and Uncle George's never closes so visit anytime. Private parties in the restaurant can be arranged for up to 70 people and off-premises catering is available. Visit their web site for more information. www.unclegeorges.us Congratulations on 30 years in Astoria…yasoo!

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