2018-01-10 / Restaurant of the Week


Rafina offers refined Greek dining, live music, and the emotive singing of owner, Dennis Spilios. Dennis came from Delphi, Greece in 1970 and grew up on 46th Street, just steps from Rafina. After owning two successful restaurants in Manhattan, Dennis decided to get back in the game. I was surprised and delighted to know that Dennis is a famous singer of Greek music and the Greek community here in Astoria is thrilled to have him back home, along with the fantastic food.

Rafina opened a month ago on Broadway and has already drawn a crowd who come for the phenomenal food, prepared by expert Chef Joaquim, and live music and singing by Dennis on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10pm to 4am. The two lovely dining rooms feature white and yellow table linens, illuminated softly and tended to by Peter, our professional waiter. One dining room can accommodate up to 130 people, where the music takes place, and the other can hold 80 guests, making Rafina an ideal venue for your private affair, business lunch or meetings.

The expert barman will mix up your favorite cocktail from top shelf liquor and there are plenty of wines to enjoy. We started with some of their house made dips, including kopanisti, roasted red pepper dip with feta cheese and garlic, and melitzanosalata, smoked eggplant spread with garlic and herbs. Skordalia is whipped potato and garlic spread and they were all delicious slathered on triangles of warm pita bread and rolls. Next, my companion and I shared char-grilled octopus, tender and tasty, drizzled with red wine vinaigrette and capers ($18). Fresh mussels are steamed in Ouzo and fine herbs meant to be soaked up with warm bread. Juicy, sweet lump crab cakes are served over quinoa salad with yellow peppers, with plenty to share ($17).

Salads are beautifully presented and meant to be shared. Choose among the classic Greek, the Village Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and feta cheese, or the beet salad made with yellow and ruby beets, goat cheese, and tender, spicy watercress.

Rafina offers only the finest fish and meats, hand selected each day. The Chef takes the catch of the day, be it branzino, sea bass or snapper, and grills it whole, basting it with olive oil and lemon for a Mediterranean treat. Wild salmon fillet is baked in an olive crust and served over gigantes fava bean puree. Rafina’s seafood combination for two is a feast of grilled shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels, octopus, and whitefish in a savory, lemony sauce.

We were dazzled by the presentation of 4 baby lamb chops, perfectly cooked to a rosy pink finish, served with Moroccan couscous and chickpeas that were wrapped with thin slices of grilled zucchini. This stunning dish was sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and a dollop of mint sauce and provided a nice dinner the following night. Pork tenderloin roulade is so tender, rolled with spinach, walnuts, and Kasseri cheese that looks like a masterpiece when sliced and served with orzo, olives, and wine reduction ($24). Choose among chicken, lamb, filet mignon, or pork to be skewered for the best kebob in Astoria, served with saffron-scented rice.

Enjoy the sweetness of life with Rafina’s special “rolled” baklava, full of nuts, honey, and dusted with cinnamon. A martini glass holds a creamy Greek yogurt parfait with black cherries, and Greek honey. Galaktobourekia pastry and loukoumades fried dough balls drizzled with honey will end your meal along with a rich coffee and after dinner cordial or Moscato wine.

Now, sit back and enjoy the band as Dennis Spilios takes the stage and serenades the crowd with passionate music. Or get up and dance the night away with your family and friends at Rafina until the wee hours as you escape the day to day routine and transport yourself to a world of refined Greek dining and music. Yasou!

46-11 Broadway, Astoria

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