2013-11-27 / Restaurant of the Week

Astoria Bowl

Bowling, Lounge, Good Food, and Family Fun
By Teresa Barile

Bowling is the largest participation sport in the United States. It’s also the great “equalizer,” as it is enjoyed by people of all ages, genders, and social strata. Indeed, gregarious owners Elaine and Perry Poulos have struck the perfect balance between traditional “retro-style” bowling and modern “hipster” bowling. Everyone is made to feel welcome here: leagues, families, school kids, seniors, and the cool crowd, who love “Cosmic Bowling” on weekend nights.

Astoria Bowl, a 25,000 square foot entertainment center, has come a long way since the Poulos’ took over in 2009. Every inch of the place has been renovated, including brand new lanes, glow in the dark gutters and high tech scoring, lighting and even a special machine that oils down the lanes twice a day for maximum performance for their loyal league bowlers, families and social bowlers.

I’ve never seen a cleaner bowling alley, kitchen, bar, and especially the restrooms, all of which are cleaned several times a day. I’ve also never seen more kissing and hugging at a bowling alley, but the clientele is family here and everyone greets each other with love and affection. Eric Sutton, a loyal patron and league bowler, held his family reunion here with everyone transported by buses from Long Island for their special event. Astoria Bowl hosts many events here from kids’ birthday bowling parties, Sweet 16s, to corporate events, charity events and even a wedding in the spacious banquet room upstairs, which accommodates 80 people. You’ll never have food this good in a bowling alley either, thanks to the loving hands of Vesna who runs the kitchen and the catering.

We sat at the handsome wood bar and chatted over glasses of wine while I marveled at the beer taps, made of solid ice for maximum freshness and flavor. Astoria’s own Single Cut brews are sold here along with Blue Moon, Yuengling, Cherry Wheat and Bud. Top shelf liquor is available to create your favorite cocktail and there are very happy Happy Hours here. Try the Lovetap Margarita, the Brooklyn Strike, or the Make your Mark next time you come in.

I started with some of Vesna’s outrageous dry-rubbed chicken wings which were meaty and juicy, served with your choice of four different sauces: BBQ, sweet red chili, sesame oriental, or traditional hot wing sauce. I found them all delicious and dipped my way through the plate of six ($7). Chicken fingers are popular with kids and adults alike, served with your choice of dipping sauce and the sweet potato bites are simply addictive, as are the fried corn nuggets. A combination platter was prepared for me with all of these choices plus mini corn dogs, mozzarella sticks and fried pickle spears that were crunchy outside and juicy inside. These apps are great for sharing and munching at the lane or at the bar and run from $3.50 to $6. Next came my Angus burger, cooked exactly as I ordered it and served hot and juicy on a tender, flaky brioche bun, served with lettuce, tomato and pickles. Make it a deluxe and add their seasoned waffle fries or even “Astoria fries” sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and oregano….yassoo! I like my burgers straight up but you can top yours with cheese, onion rings and BBQ sauce, bacon and bleu cheese or get a pizza burger with mozzarella, pepperoni, and marinara sauce. Hot sandwiches include chicken parmigiana, Philly style chicken sandwich, or healthy grilled chicken sandwich on your choice of bread. Classic BLTs and grilled cheese, as well as all-beef hot dogs are great options too. The personal sized pizzas are great to eat between strikes or at the bar. There’s four cheese, pepperoni, bacon and tomato, BBQ chicken pizza, or the Mediterranean with feta cheese, Greek herbs and spices ($7.25). Cater your next family party or corporate event here in the well-appointed banquet room. Steaming hot trays of chicken marsala, chicken francese and stuffed peppers are big crowd pleasers. According to Mimi, a regular league bowler, Vesna’s meatloaf is “the best ever” and a hug ensued for her cooking skills. Call Elaine to arrange your next event. And while you’re at it, stop by and drop off a toy for the Holiday Toys for Tots Drive at Astoria Bowl. Active in many charities, Astoria Bowl invites you to donate an unwrapped toy for collection in huge boxes on the upper level. The Poulos’ have been so fortunate in their own lives, they want to “give back” whenever possible and have hosted Breast Cancer Fundraising events and regularly host schoolchildren with special needs as well. On the other side of the coin, Hollywood has found Astoria Bowl an attractive site for filming scenes for The Good Wife and Royal Pains television shows. In my book, the owners and patrons at Astoria Bowl are the biggest, brightest stars around.

Come for the following special events: Cosmic Bowling on Friday nights from 11pm to 2am, on Saturday nights from 8pm to 2am, and Sunday nights from 8pm to midnight. On Tuesday nights from 9pm to midnight, enjoy “All you can bowl” for just $15. There are NFL specials with games visible from their huge screens during Sunday, Monday and Thursday games, where pitchers of beer cost just $9. Their regular bowling rates are so reasonable at $5 per game Monday to Thursday and $6 on weekends. Cosmic Bowling is just $7 per game, so there’s no reason not to come and have some fun on the lanes.

Astoria Bowl offers “retro” and “boutique” bowling at its best. Everyone is welcome here and the facilities are brand new, clean, and state-of-the-art. You might even get a hug! For top notch bowling, a lively bar, excellent food and fun, visit Astoria Bowl.

19-45 49th Street  Astoria



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