2012-05-02 / Restaurant of the Week

UNCLE GEORGE'S GREEK TAVERNA

Uncle George’s Greek Taverna has been a fixture in Astoria and a comforting sight for hungry New Yorkers since 1978 and there’s no sign of stopping. This family- style taverna is located on the busy corner of Broadway and 34th Street with a skylit atrium that overlooks the passersby. The homey dining rooms are comfortable and outfitted with family-sized tables covered in red or blue and white checkered tablecloths. Greek murals adorn the walls and Greek music plays in the background, creating a very relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy traditional Greek cuisine. John and Demo welcome you seven days a week for daily special dishes, rotisserie grilled lamb, chicken, grilled fish and more. The charming Demo brought us warm bread and a pretty pitcher of the house red wine which went perfectly with every course. We started with an assortment of traditional dips that included skordalia (pureed potato and garlic), spicy feta cheese dip, creamy tzatziki, and a delectable caviar dip called taramosalata, all of which are generously spread on warm points of pita bread. The daring Demo brought a pan of savory saganaki and set it ablaze in front of our eyes to ignite the brandy that makes this sautéed cheese so delicious ($7). Tender, grilled octopus are fork-tender and perfect for sharing with its vinegar and olive oil dressing ($11). Uncle George’s proudly makes everything from scratch and their spanakopita or spinach pie is a legendary hunk of fresh spinach mixed with just the right amount of cheese and herbs, baked into a light, flaky crust that is not greasy or salty like some others. Likewise, their homemade stuffed grape leaves called dolmades are filled with savory rice, ground lamb and mild herbs then rolled into savory parcels that are 100 times better than the ‘ready-made’ kind.

Only the freshest meats and fish are served, 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 you’ll ever try. Barbecued lamb is carved from the rotisserie where it has been slow roasted for hours. A generous portion is heaped on your plate with a side order of their famous lemon potatoes.

Everything you may have heard about Uncle George’s lemon potatoes is true. These huge wedges of potatoes, dressed with lemon and olive oil practically melt in your mouth. We savored a traditional dish of slowly braised lamb shanks with orzo, cooked in tomato sauce with a touch of herbs that made for a delicious dinner the next night as well. You’ll also find traditional dishes such as roast leg of lamb, pastitsio, moussaka and lamb chops. See the menu for daily specials like roast beef with rice served on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Lamb stew with spinach is an old fashioned dish offered on Thursday and Sunday.

For lunch or dinner, pile some thinly sliced gyro or pork souvlaki onto a fluffy pita pocket and fill it with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce for a quick and delicious meal, served by itself or on a platter with lemon potatoes, French fries, rice or salad.

A refrigerated case displays the freshest fish of the day. Just pick what you like among sea bass, porgy or red snapper and it will be expertly cooked on the spot on the charcoal grill with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Fried cod fish is a delicacy, topped with garlicky skordalia and the swordfish kebabs are laced with vegetables. Uncle George’s is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day and there’s free delivery to your home or office on $15+ orders. To keep their prices low, only cash is accepted. Bring your friends, the whole family, or impress your date from Manhattan with a trip to Uncle George’s Taverna in Astoria for legendary Greek food since 1978!

33-19 Broadway
Astoria  718.626.0593

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