2009-06-10 / Restaurant of the Week

OPA! Souvlaki, Since 1969

By Teresa Barile

OPA! Souvlaki, Since 1969

Opa! Souvlaki is a gastronomic institution, not only in Astoria, but in all of New York City and beyond. For 40 years Opa! has been serving some of New York's best souvlaki, gyro, fresh fish and arguably the best spanakopita. The spinach pie is so good, that it is sold in large quantities to local street fairs, church fairs and other public events. Families, friends and people of all ages come to Opa! for a great Greek meal at an Astoria landmark. Everyone recognizes the statue of the chef outside waving you in for lunch or dinner, seven days a week. All dishes are ready to take out as well.

The charming owner, Pattie, greets her guests and makes them feel at home in the atrium dining room that is covered with lush green plants that have been growing for decades. A private party room will accommodate 45 for your next affair. We started with some house red wine and some delicately fried zucchini slices prepared in a light and crispy batter. A dollop of skordalia, a potato and garlic dip, was delicious when spread on the zucchini or on slices of bread. Other house made spreads include melitzanosalata, (eggplant) and taramosalata (caviar). Saganaki is a savory slab of cheese that is prepared with flaming brandy and served with a squeeze of lemon. Octopus salad is tender and flavorful prepared with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar ($7.95). One of my favorite salads is a traditional shepherd's dish called horiatiki which tosses together red ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and stuffed grape leaves called dolmades ($8.75 for two).


Whether for lunch or dinner, to eat in or take out, you have to try some classic Opa! souvlaki. The grill man at the front of the restaurant laces wooden skewers with tender, marinated chunks of lamb, pork, beef or chicken to suit your taste. You can have your souvlaki piled onto warm pita bread and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce for about $5, or enjoy this dish as a complete dinner, served with a Greek salad, and rice or French fries for around $10. The combination platter will give you samples of three different meats. Other delicious dishes off the grill include loukaniko handmade Greek sausage, seasoned with mild spices. Opa! offers a tender, juicy 16-ounce New York strip steak that's a big hit, served with a generous Greek salad, fries or seasoned rice.

On the weekends, the kitchen roasts succulent leg of lamb with traditional lemon potatoes for a real family meal. Traditional dishes such as pastitsio and moussaka are available every day and are both hearty, stick-to-yourribs dishes.

Opa! Souvlaki grills whole fish as well, with selections that often include porgy and red snapper. Ask your server for the fresh catch of the day, kept on ice in the front. Opa! is an expression used for celebrations. Celebrate 40 years in Astoria at Opa! Souvlaki by enjoying a traditional Greek meal in a landmark restaurant. Opa!


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