2014-07-09 / Restaurant of the Week

Telly’s Taverna

Telly’s Taverna has been a fixture on 23rd Avenue in Astoria for 25 years, led by “Nana” who steered the ship with style and her unique personality. Now, her lovely daughter Diana is at the helm, maintaining the same culinary traditions that made Telly’s Taverna so popular, while updating the interior to create a light and airy environment in which to enjoy this fabulous Greek cuisine.

The recently overhauled interior now features an attractive marble bar near the entrance, where you can meet a friend for a drink and meze before you settle in for a meal. Ice cold Mythos or Alpha beer from Greece goes well with a selection of dips and warm bread while you chat at the bar, or choose a glass of crisp, white, Greek wine or your favorite cocktail. The spacious dining room next door features sturdy tables dressed in white linens that can accommodate an intimate dinner for two, or large groups of family, friends, or business associates. The new outdoor patio is simply charming, covered by a grape arbor and decorated with objects from the sea.

Our friendly, helpful server Tina took excellent care of us, suggesting we start with Telly’s ever popular grilled octopus. She cut it up tableside and we plunged right in to this supremely tender octopus with a delicious marinade of olive oil and wine vinegar. Grilled calamari is equally delicious and the generous servings allow the whole table to share. You might want to try a platter of their savory dips ($6-10) which includes tzatziki yogurt dip, skordalia, which is a puree of potato and garlic, taramosalata (caviar) and creamy feta cheese dip with hot pepper. Our platter of grilled vegetables was summery fresh with eggplant, zucchini and peppers, all grilled to perfection. Handmade grilled sausage called loukaniko or Greek style meatballs called keftedes with delicate herbs are also popular here. Gigantes are giant lima beans, oven baked to a buttery texture with a sauce of tomato and dill. Telly’s Taverna’s avgolemono soup is so good, it was featured on Fox 5 News!

Order a classic Greek salad or the generously sized “Nana” salad composed of tossed finely chopped lettuces and fresh dill with a light, lemony dressing and bits of creamy feta cheese. The tomato and cucumber salad has lots of red onion, juicy olives, oil and vinegar. Fresh beets or dandelion greens called horta make a great side dish or can be a meal for a vegetarian, along with a rice and spinach dish called spanakorizo. Speaking of spinach, the house made spinach pie is so good, you’ll want to take a slice home for lunch. A carafe of the house red or white wine is a great accompaniment to any meal here, or choose your favorite vintage from the wine list.

Telly’s Taverna features only the freshest ocean-fresh fish and seafood. The iconic menu is adorned with a drawing of a fish bone boasting red snapper, porgy, branzino, black sea bass, swordfish and salmon, all prepared on the spot. My dear friend and I shared a whole branzino cooked on the charcoal grill with just a touch of olive oil and lemon, then filleted for us for easy eating. Delicious! Swordfish kebobs, shrimp kebobs, shrimp scampi and grilled scallops are all delicious, begging for your next visit so you can try something else. Best of all, entrées are served with their famous lemon potatoes, handmade fried potatoes or rice.

The grill sizzles at Telly’s Taverna with the freshest cuts of meat. We shared tender baby lamb chops (paidakia) that were succulent and juicy after a quick pass over the coals. Rib-eye or T-bone steaks, and Greek style hamburgers are juicy and delicious, served sizzling hot with their famous hand-sliced French fried potatoes.

Telly’s Taverna is also open for lunch when the chicken or lamb souvlaki, skewered with peppers, onions and tomatoes hits the spot. There are burgers, salads and sandwiches too for lunch and the service is friendly, fast, and efficient.

You must end your meal at Telly’s Taverna with homemade loukoumades, tender balls of fried dough, similar to zeppoles but drizzled with honey and a dusting of cinnamon ….ambrosia for the gods. In addition, a selection of Greek pastries such as baklava and galaktoboureko is also available, along with coffee or espresso.

Telly’s Taverna is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 12:30am. They are conveniently located just half a block from the Ditmars Boulevard train station. Enjoy al fresco dining and cool breezes on the patio or just stop in for a glass of wine and appetizer at the sleek bar. Congratulations to Diana, continuing the tradition of fine Greek food at Telly’s Taverna. Visit their Web site for menus, videos and more information.

28-13 23rd Avenue
Astoria, NY  718.728.9056


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