2014-11-12 / Restaurant of the Week

BROUSKO

After over a year of waiting, Brousko has finally opened on the site of the former Punta Dura on 34th Avenue in Astoria, where many episodes of The Sopranos were filmed at their favorite fictitious restaurant called “Vesuvio”. Now, Brousko is open and you are invited to come for a very memorable meal in a sumptuous, yet comfortable environment with live music and valet parking on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

The gregarious owner, Panayiotis “Peter” Menikou knows quite a lot about food, having owned and operated the Cyprus Deli since 1985 and the immense Euro Market on 31st Street since 2004. He has combined his love and knowledge of food and great wine to offer a superb dining experience for all. In fact, Brousko is named for a brand of wine from Crete and there is a whole wall of Brousko bottles in both red and white varieties adorning the spacious dining room. There are over 50 varieties of wine on the menu with another hundred vintages coming soon. The full bar can also mix up your favorite cocktails and beer, but we were more than happy with a bottle of Brousko red.

The spacious dining room is classy, with linens and candle-topped tables for parties of all sizes. The charming murals on the walls depict a restaurant called Vesuvio and warm candle glow and soft music lend a soothing air to the evening. This is an ideal venue for a romantic dinner for two or a family celebration, or anything in between. Kosta, our friendly, professional waiter uncorked our wine and brought us a basket of warm bread and the house olive spread for nibbling. The list of appetizers will have you salivating. The Brousko salad is a winner, generously sized and tossed with tender greens, sliced apple, cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette ($11). Horiatiki is a traditional salad of tomato, cucumbers, onions, olives and Greek feta cheese. Order a salad for the table and dig into some feta saganaki. Chef Michael puts a new twist on this classic dish, usually made with haloumi cheese and pan-fried with brandy, this version takes a slab of the finest quality feta cheese available, and bakes it till golden, encrusted with toasted sesame seeds. Then, the gods come in and drizzle it with fine honey and sprinkle it with chopped, dried figs for a taste of ambrosia ($12). Tender zucchini fritters with a very long name (kolokithokeftedes) are crisp, golden, and addictively delicious, served on a gleaming white, rectangular platter with a puddle of tangy yogurt garlic sauce ($10). Tender, grilled octopus is fresh from the sea, sliced and mixed with onions, smoked red pepper, and capers. Seftalia is Cyprian style homemade sausage, grilled with peppers and onions which you’ll love to soak up with crusty bread. Kaltsounia is Crete’s version of crispy spinach pie that you’ll love to share.

The menu of entrées is simple: choose the best in fish and seafood, grilled meats, or pasta, and everything is made to order and served piping hot. Brousko has a signature salmon dish that you must try and so my dining companion did just that. Supremely fresh salmon is wrapped in phyllo dough with a layer of spinach, then baked until all the crispy layers emerge. This extraordinary dish is finished with champagne dill sauce and is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Grilled tiger shrimp are simply drizzled with olive oil and lemon, or choose a whole grilled dorade (orata), or sea bass (branzino). Indulge in a whole, grilled lobster, or flaky fillet of flounder stuffed with crabmeat and topped with that fabulous champagne dill sauce.

If you favor meat, Brousko has the best quality ribeye steaks, filet mignon, juicy pork chops, baby lamb chops, chicken kebabs, and surf and turf, all cooked to order and served with their homestyle lemon potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Brousko has great pasta dishes such as linguine with shrimp Alfredo in white wine sauce with a touch of cream and cheese, as well as pasta Carbonara with smoky ham, cream, and egg yolk. I devoured the Giouvetsi Thalassina which is a classic dish of orzo with fresh clams, mussels, and huge, tender scallops in a light, tomato herb sauce ($24).

Whatever you order for dinner, do save room for dessert where Brousko’s chef puts a new twist on traditional baklava. Here the walnuts and honey are rolled into phyllo dough and baked until they form crispy cylinders, dusted with cinnamon. Ask about the nightly dessert special and order an after dinner cordial and coffee to seal the meal.

Brousko is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, serving dinner six nights a week and closed on Monday. They’re open from 5:30pm to midnight Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday, and until 3:00am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, when you’ll also enjoy live music and valet parking. Brousko offers fine Greek cuisine in a classy setting. The spacious dining room can accommodate up to 225 for a private event, even a wedding, so call to reserve your date and arrange a customized menu that will dazzle your guests.

41-15 34th Avenue
Astoria  718.204.0411

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