2013-10-09 / Restaurant of the Week

PSARI SEAFOOD RESTAURANT AND BAR

We felt like thieves, stealing a balmy, summer night in the Mediterranean, enjoying a fabulous meal of fine seafood and exotic cocktails, served by a friendly staff. In fact, it was early October and we were dining al fresco at Psari Seafood Restaurant and Bar on 36th Avenue. Take advantage of the remaining warm evenings and dine outdoors at Astoria’s premier fish restaurant. Indoors, the dining room is cool and comfortable with whitewashed walls and intricate ceiling molding punctuated by dark leather banquettes and dark wood tables and chairs. The amiable owner Yanni “John” Vullis runs a tight ship to ensure that everything is top notch.

Psari offers a lovely Happy Hour from 4-7pm Monday to Friday, with $3 beers, house wine and sangria along with some of their seafood appetizers at special low prices. Enjoy a cold beer with a half dozen fresh oysters, clams, raw or baked, or fried calamari rings. Pretty martinis such as a cosmopolitan, or French martini are made with infused vodka and fruit juices. The mojito cools and refreshes with mint and lime and I just love the crisp white wines from Greece that Psari offers.

We started with Psari’s extraordinary grilled octopus, tender and hot off the charcoal grill, cut and splashed with vinegar and olive oil to complement the flavor. Diners can share a selection of fresh, house made dips, arranged on a beautiful platter. Melitzanosalata (eggplant salad), taramosalata (caviar salad), tzatziki yogurt dip and skordalia (potato and garlic dip) made a beautiful start, served with triangles of warm pita bread ($15). Tiny smelts called atherina in Greek are crispy fish fries, great for sharing and crunching. Saganaki is pan fried haloumi cheese, finished with flaming brandy, or delve into a bowl of fresh mussels, steamed with tomato or white wine sauce ($12). Definitely order a classic Greek salad topped with the best feta cheese around. Sop up creamy shrimp bisque or seafood soup as a first course too.

There are two dozen fish entrées to choose among and all are fresh from the sea and kept on ice until they hit the grill. Our kind server told us about the catches of the day and we decided on the sea bass fillet, cooked to perfection and basted with olive oil and lemon. Tuna steak, red snapper and swordfish steak are swiftly passed on the grill for maximum flavor. Flaky tilapia and salmon can be broiled or sautéed as you wish and don’t forget the lobster tails, prepared any way you like. Fresh, flaky fillet of sole can be prepared on its own or stuffed with tasty breadcrumbs and crabmeat, then broiled with butter and lemon ($22). Enjoy a generous helping of king crab legs and get cracking into the sweet meat. The Greek combination platter features crab legs, scallops, lobster tail, stuffed shrimp and clams, broiled with garlic and butter or grilled with olive oil and lemon. Add a side order of their delicious lemon potatoes, baked potato, fries or rice and a plate of healthy greens for a memorable meal. Decadently crunchy fried shrimp, calamari, scallops and fish and chips taste great with a squeeze of lemon or tangy tartar sauce.

If fish isn’t your catch, try the baby lamb chops which get their succulent flavor from the charcoal grill. There’s also a hefty T-bone steak and grilled chicken paillard. There are Greek specialties each night of the week including Sunday’s stuffed cabbage with rice and ground beef and Monday’s moussaka. Check their Web site for the full menu.

There are lunch specials served from 11am to 4pm. For just $13 enjoy salmon or swordfish steak, flounder fillet or tilapia with a Greek salad, garlic bread and choice of potato or rice. For dessert, we had a slice of creamy cheesecake, but there’s also house made “galaktobourekia”, phyllo pastry filled with a sweet custard, scented with honey. Ask for the special desserts of the night.

Regardless of the weather, Psari Seafood Restaurant and Bar promises fine Mediterranean dining, excellent drinks and wine, reasonable prices and friendly service in a lovely atmosphere.

32-10 36th Avenue, Astoria  718.786.6015

www.psari-restaurant.com

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