The Bel Aire Diner is a classic New York, Greek diner that has sat prominently on the corner of 21st Street and Broadway since 1965. Owned by the Dellaportas Family, brothers Kal and Peter run the show and took the opportunity to renovate during the lockdown. The result is your classic NY Diner with a modern look, and a fantastic menu to boot! Make your Mother’s Day reservations now, or book your private, family party for up to 60 guests.
Sleek, wood tile floors, new booths, soft lighting, and a full bar serving classic and inventive cocktails are just some of the new additions. What hasn’t changed is the commitment to fresh, homemade food for every taste. Indeed, nearly everything is made on the premises from scratch, including their eye-pop- ping array of cakes, pies, pas- tries, and puddings.
Peter mixed up two New York Old Fashioned cocktails for us, made with Applejack whisky from an upstate NY distillery, local bitters, and an orange peel. Try a blueberry cosmo, their refreshing house made sangria, cold beer, or glass of wine while you flip through the menu. You might see mozzarella sticks on many menus but trust me, there are none as good as the Bel Aire’s, made with creamy mozzarella and their own multi-process, crunchy coating. The same is true for their chicken fingers, hand-cut tenders, perfectly breaded and served with home made honey mustard. Spanakopita is made fresh every day, whose phyllo is light and flaky, filled with spinach and bits of creamy feta cheese. An order of house-made wings will disappear at your table, with your choice of sauce.
Bel Aire’s Greek specialties offer your favorites, all fresh, never frozen. Spit-roasted lamb is sliced off the leg and piled into soft pita bread with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce, or served on a platter with rice or potatoes and salad. The sizzling lamb skillet was a generous portion of this tender lamb, served with steak fries, tomatoes, feta, and red onion on a skillet ($25.99). Chicken Athenian is a tender breast stuffed with spinach, baked until golden. Shrimp Santorini is lightly pan-fried in fine olive oil with diced tomato, onion and feta, served over rice and sprinkled with fragrant oregano.
The updated menu offers fresh, healthy salads such as four quinoa-based choices, beet salad, chickpea, Waldorf salad, and the classic Cobb, to name a few. Sauteed specials are made to order and include chicken Monte Carlo with mushrooms, white wine, tomato and grated cheese over fluffy mashed potatoes. Chicken Cordon Bleu is rolled with ham and Swiss cheese, sauteed with mushrooms and a touch of cream, served over rice. I enjoyed Mariscos Portuguese, a mélange of calamari, clams and mussels with olive oil, garlic and capers over angel hair pasta ($23.99). Spanish paella and catfish Provencal are also great choices in seafood.
Diner classics at the Bel Aire bring on the comfort. Chicken pot pie is baked into a golden crust, while the homemade meatloaf with brown gravy will make you feel good inside. Roasted chicken, barbecued ribs, and Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings are some house favorites.
Lunchtime offers soups, salads, and the Bel Aire’s famous sandwiches, including vegan and vegetarian options. Grilled cheese, with or without bacon, is irresistible, as is the turkey, bacon and avocado, and Mediterranean tuna with olives, feta, tomato, and baby spinach on toasted pita. Roast beef, pastrami, corned beef, and brisket sandwiches are all piled high on your choice of bread.
Leave room for dessert because Bel Aire is famous for its light and creamy cheesecakes, layer cakes, apple pie, brownie sundae, black & white cookies, creamy rice pudding and chocolate pudding, and much more. Fine, roasted coffee is brewed all day and night, to stay or to go. This is a great place to start your day with a hearty breakfast or a NY-style egg sandwich to go.
Besides all the wonderful food at the Bel Aire Diner, they started offering a drive-in movie experience during the lockdown. A quote from their blog states, “While sitting in a brainstorming session early in April 2020, the Bel Aire team asked themselves a simple question: How can we get our loyal customers out of the house and ensure they enjoy our food just like old times? Three days after, we had our first successful Drive-In movie at the diner and nothing could have prepared us for the news coverage and outpouring of love and attention that followed.” This retro event continues, starting this month. Check out their website for the schedule and menus. You can order your next meal from there for fast, free delivery, or by picking up the phone and calling 718.721.3160. Don’t forget to make reservations for Mother’s Day on May 8th and book your business lunch, or family party.
The Bel Aire Diner is your classic New York, Greek diner with an updated, modern look and feel!
31-91 21st Street/Broadway – Astoria – 718.721.3160