2017-07-12 / Restaurant of the Week

United Miners Soccer Club

One of the best things about living in New York is discovering hidden places to eat and explore, well off the beaten path. For over 40 years, the United Miners Soccer Club has been serving delicious meals in its location on 34th Avenue and 45th Street in Astoria, though you may not know it. The United Miners Soccer Club was founded by a group of coal miners who emigrated from a mining town in Croatia over 40 years ago. Most of the men who left the town of Labin for America came alone, without their wives and children, to seek out a better way of life. The United Miners Soccer Club was created in an effort to maintain their traditional customs and cuisine and their love of soccer or “football.”

Ready for a culinary adventure? Don’t be intimidated by the lack of a traditional restaurant façade. Simply slip through the green metal door and you’ll find many of the founding members and their friends playing cards on the street level dining room while a whole culinary world awaits you down in the lower level restaurant. Originally, the “club” was private and one could only come as a guest of a member. Today, the club’s restaurant is open to the public, and all are welcome. Soon, outdoor seating will be available to enhance this fine European cuisine. The pretty tables, dressed in starched, white linens topped with candles, creating a nice environment for your meal. Either dining room can accommodate your private event of up to 90 people, for a sit down dinner so please consider this welcoming venue for your next private affair. The association’s president, Renato Rajkovic, along with Kate and Angela, welcome you to dine here.

We started with grilled calamari, served hot off the coals, tender and perfect with a squeeze of lemon. The fried version of calamari offered tender rings of crispy, golden goodness. Kudos for the grilled octopus, fork-tender and succulent, perfect for sharing. Order some house-made, juicy sausage called “Cevapcici” (Cheh-VAHP-Chee-Chee) for an ideal starter meant to be shared. Traditional soups or “juha” are so hearty they can be a meal in themselves, but you’ll want to have their homemade pasta for sure. Gnocchi are made fresh each day, and are lighter than air, while “fuzi” pasta resemble bowties. Both are served with the chef’s savory veal ragu sauce which has been simmered for hours.

Croatia is a major wine-producing country with hearty reds and crisp whites, so order a carafe of the house wine or a bottle for the table. There are also California wines if you prefer, and the beers are great too. The entrées include great choices in meat, chicken, and fish, so everyone gets their favorite and the portions are very generous. Tender scallops of veal are pounded into a paillard, or sautéed with a delicate wine and mushroom sauce ($17). There’s even a veal risotto and a grilled New York shell steak served with French fries if you’re a basic meat and potatoes person ($22).

Chicken cutlets are prepared with lemon and butter sauce, or with wine and mushroom sauce. A simply grilled chicken paillard is also on the menu for light, summer dining. Order a mixed grill for two or more diners and feast on grilled pork chops, sausages, and shishkebab, all served sizzling on a gleaming white platter ($18).

Fish plays a starring role in Croatian cuisine, and the United Miners Soccer Club does an expert job at preparing it. Our whole branzino was perfectly cooked, basted simply in olive oil and garlic. Your attentive waitress will filet it for you if you wish but we tore into this flaky, juicy fish ourselves, as the bones came out easily. Pair up any of your entrées with a traditional side dish of Swiss chard and potatoes, cabbage salad, tossed salad, or French fries.

The United Miners Soccer Club welcomes families. Kids love the calamari and sausages as much as the adults do. For dessert, delicate crepes called “palacinke” are made on the spot and filled with your choice of Nutella, apricot jam, walnuts, or lemon and sugar. We tasted each of these treats and can’t wait to come back again for more.

“Rudar” means “miner” in Croatian, so look for the sign outside on 34th Avenue and 45th Street. You can also find them on Facebook: Rudar Club New York. Finding them is easy, but discovering this fresh, honest cuisine is a treat for all. Find the green door, then go downstairs where a warm, welcoming, culinary world awaits you at the United Miners Soccer Club. The service is great and the prices are reasonable. Zivjeli! (that means cheers!)

34-01 45th Street (lower level)
Astoria  718.786.5833

Facebook: Rudar Club New York

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