Everyone has their favorite resto in each of their favorite culinary traditions- their favorite Italian place, their beloved neighborhood Chinese joint, their fave Thai, their go-to falafel cart. For the closest you can get in NYC to dining out in Greece, I always go to Taverna Kyclades in Astoria- it always has fresh, delicious vegetarian options and is worth the 45 minute wait on a Saturday night.
Well, this past Saturday, it wasn't- I was getting over a cold and just couldn't deal with standing outside on loud Ditmars Boulevard. This time, we opted to visit a quieter stretch of Ditmars, near the park, and found that Agnanti might be another go-to for quality Greek food.
Lines outside restaurants in Astoria are generally a sign that a resto is worth waiting for, especially when Greek people and not just Americans are waiting outside. I tried reading Agnanti's mixed messages- there wasn't a particularly long wait to get in, but the fresh aromas wafting into the night air were irresistible. Compared to the wait at Kyclades, it took as long as our wait here (about a minute actually!) to decide on a table for two at Agnanti.
With a wood burning stove in the back of the restaurant, warm colors, and Greek shadow puppets on the walls, Agnanti feels comfortable and homey. Our tzatziki and bread, Greek salad, and horta (which are boiled chicory, amaranth, or dandelion greens with olive oil and lemon) came out immediately- they clearly know that hungry people need their appetizers- and we found the very garlicky tzatziki to be perfection, along with our salad and greens. On the vegan front, you'll also find tomato-herb fritters, some generous, grilled portobello mushrooms, fried zucchini & eggplant, and hearty mashed fava beans. Gotta love Greek food.
Post salad, out came the slightly unhealthier version of more greens, in the form of kolokithokeftedes- fried zucchini-feta fritters, which were, okay I'll say it, dill-icious, even more so with a dollop of tzatziki! We rounded our meal off with baked yigades (giant lima beans, referred to on the menu as 'fasolia plaki'), which are hearty, satisfying, and with a tomato-carrot sauce, almost sweet! Fresh watermelon with yogurt and cherries in syrup on the side was brought out to us for dessert- yup, they just bring it out for you, and I couldn't imagine a better way of ending the meal. Except for maybe some more retsina, but not necessarily when you're getting over a cold.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Agnanti, and even my Greek honey, with his discerning "I only want to eat authentic" palate, loved the place. And we feel lucky enough that we now have two go-to places for quality Greek food.
Agnanti, 19-06 Ditmars Boulevard (at Astoria Park), 718-545-4554, Astoria, Queens