Ashrita Furman is a local celebrity. While he is not managing a health food store in Jamaica, he attempts to break world records. According to this documentary, he has broken 350 world records. I’m sure he has broken more since the making of this. You can check out the entire 24 minute documentary about him here. When you’re in the neighborhood, you can stop by and say hello. Also, tons of footage of Queens, that’s not just stock footage you’d see on episodes of King of Queens.
Today I learned that the “ASW” building, the large, incongruous factory-type building on 23rd Avenue near Steinway, is the former Astoria Silk Works factory. From a quick Google search, this excerpt from The Encyclopedia of New York City:
"Factory in Astoria, Queens, established in 1820. Part of the West Point foundry owned by Gouverneur Kemble, it was one of two factory sites; the other was in Cold Springs, Long Island. Astoria Silk Works was owned by investors that included Jacob Ruppert and William Steinway. The mill was located on Steinway Avenue (now Street) near Potter Avenue (now 23rd Avenue). It was composed of brick buildings, marked by ‘ASW,’ that still stand today. A fire in 1914 closed the factory permanently."
Today it’s home to various businesses, including a dance studio, a photographer, a tattoo shop, Astoria Sound Works (which makes good use of the old initials), and more.
Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar in Sunnyside is now open, and the food is phenomenal… From the same team that brought us Vesta Trattoria and Pachanga Patterson come some incredible new dishes. Pictured: Roasted Beet & Mascarpone Pansotti, Stracchino Pizza (with roasted chantarelles, spinach pesto, & fried egg), The Torino cocktail (served with a sidecar bottle of San Bitter Rosso), Espresso Granita (shaved ice with homemade mascarpone and cacao nibs), and Toasted Almond Semifreddo (with fudge brownie, chocolate almond butter, & chocolate meringues). Tonight & tomorrow they are still in ‘soft opening’ from 6-9PM, but beginning Thursday they serve dinner from 5-10PM seven days a week. 44-07 Queens Blvd, Sunnyside, NY 11104.
Here’s Sarah Feldman, Ridgewood extra-ordinaire. She is putting together the Ridgewood Market later this month, which consists of artisanal vendors and their ilk. She also turned me onto Ridgewood Social - which helps turn this lonely city a little littler. She’s funkdafying the neighborhood. The mediator between the Queens and the Brooklyn is the Ridgewood!
See you at the Market.
Saturday, July 27th & Sunday, July 28th 2013 11 AM to 5 PM Greater Ridgewood Youth Council 59-03 Summerfield St, Ridgewood, NY 11385
Out of all the neighborhoods you could have chosen from within New York City proper, why Astoria? Why open where most of the best Greek food is? I knew that writers were going to compare us, and that it was going to be controversial, and that there would be Greeks judging it…
Has there been? I’m sure there has, and I just like that too, it’s just who I am. No matter what there’s still a little wise-ass in me. I wanted to come back to a place where I can say, “This is the mecca of Greek food.”
You’ve got a reputation and a history now. Does that put a particular pressure on now? I don’t necessarily sense pressure like that. I guess so, yeah. I think that sometimes people like controversy—I am controversial by nature, it’s just who I am—it probably would have been easier or safer or more practical to open in Manhattan I guess. But I had to open in Astoria. I just had to.
What are your hopes for this location? This restaurant is a reflection of being proud of being Greek. I pay more honor to my mother and my father by taking what I learned from them and doing what I’m doing now than just doing what they were doing. Greeks are very proud, and it’s very hard for us to let people in and to change. And I think that’s what continues to hold us back. We, as a group, have to band together. And if it’s going to start, it has to start in a place like this.
I recently ate (with three fellow Queens Love colleagues, actually) at The Shady Lady, a new “global comfort food” restaurant on Astoria’s 30th Ave. By far, this Reuben Roll was a favorite from that meal. It’s a tightly rolled sandwich made with corned beef, sauerkraut, gruyere, and caraway. It sits on top of a layer of Russian dressing. It’s totally yummy and I am counting the days until I can get back there and eat another one.
The Shady Lady, 34-19 30th Ave., Astoria, New York 11103, (718) 440-9081