After almost a decade of serving brunch to loyal Astorians, Ovelia decided it was time for a change. This past weekend they unveiled a new brunch menu – first reported by my pals over at We Heart Astoria – that returned to the restaurant’s roots, reflecting a greater Greek influence in every dish.
What might have been a gamble turned out to be a total home run, with creative, inventive brunch fare, and recipes for which the Astoria-raised owners Pete and Chris Giannakas have an obvious passion.
As the first restaurant I ever knew of in Astoria (a co-worker who lived in Manhattan used to tell me about it when I was still living in New Jersey), and a place I have frequented for the past five years, Ovelia has a special spot in my heart. The new brunch menu is no subtle reminder why.
Brunch started with a great new cocktail, the Amaro Spritz – the first one is free with brunch, the second is half price. While Spritzes are most certainly the new “it” brunch drink, Ovelia wisely sidesteps the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz in favor of a great one made with earthy, herbal CioCiaro Amaro. I could seriously drink these all day.
As a starter, we ordered the Corn Dog Buttons, a favorite from Ovelia’s Wednesday night Rockin’ Ribs menu which has been added to the Brunch menu. These corn battered delights are like Greek hush puppies stuffed with Lukániko, a traditional pork sausage flavored with orange peel, fennel seed, and more. I was excited to see one of my favorite Astoria snacks, Ovelia’s sesame seed encrusted Fried Feta Cubes on the brunch menu as well.
My favorite dish was hands down the Kreatopita, tender pulled leg of lamb enclosed in an envelope of shredded kentaifi and served alongside a refreshing herbed yogurt (pictured below). I’m casting my vote now for this dish to be entered in the pantheon of great Astoria lamb dishes. And next time I’m trying the Apaki Tabbuleh, a brined pork tenderloin smoked in-house and served with a poached egg.
There are a lot of new egg dishes on the brunch menu as well. The tasty Revitho-Benedict features two poached eggs served over crispy chickpea croquettes and a lovely minced saffron cauliflower.
I ended this great Greek inspired Brunch in the most perfect way I can imagine, with Ovelia’s new Frap-Beer which combines the classic Greek Frappe (and unofficial coffee drink of Astoria) with Founders Porter. Cheers to Ovelia’s excellent new brunch menu, I hope you will all try it out soon!