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Archive for July, 2007

I’ve been to Aliada twice now. Both times, I had a couple dishes I really enjoyed, and a couple I really didn’t. The Greek salad that comes with any entree is always delicious: big, salty chunks of feta, sharp red onions, fresh lettuce, and oil and vinegar. My first time there, I got the Manitaria Krasata (mushrooms cooked in wine) and the Kopanisti (Roasted Red Pepper and Feta dip). The mushrooms were not memorable- I couldn’t taste any wine, or any particular flavor. The dip was a warm orangy-red color but the ingredients were disproportional- it tasted much more of the salty feta than the sweet red pepper. But my friend’s grilled meat platter came with a side of lemon potatoes, which were so tasty. Don’t be deceived by the way they look- which is like shiny boiled potatoes. They are lemony, smooth, and buttery. I also got Charcoaled Halloumi Cheese, which also was not too impressive- tasted like a saltier version of grilled paneer. Eh.

But my second time there, I ordered Charcoaled Zucchini and Eggplant, which came with a side of lemon mashed potatoes. The veggies were great- they were soft and warm inside, and flaky outside, with the burnt taste of the grill. Very pleasing texture. And the mashed potatoes, which I’m usually not a fan of, were again, delicious.

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The thing with Aliada is that it has few vegetarian entrees, though a variety of vegetarian appetizers. So for my main course, I had the option of falafel, a grilled veggie sandwich, or Spinach Kanellonia, which are spinach and cheese crepes. To try something new, I ordered the crepes. I was expecting crispy, dosa like crepes (though smaller, obviously, than a dosa), filled with the spinach, dosa, and maybe a sauce, and folded up into a neat triangle. The reason I was expecting this is because of my time working at Sofi’s Crepes, in Baltimore. That’s how I made the crepes there. But the Kanellonia I got at my table resembled lasagna more than a dosa: they had layered two or three crepes on top of each other, covered the dish with an unremarkable tomato sauce and chunks of feta (and by this point, I was getting tired of feta) and baked it. The dish was sad and simply reminded me of why I don’t like lasagna: mushy, mild flavors remind me of baby food.

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So, that was Aliada. A hit or miss experience, with a few key dishes. Maybe that’s what eating Greek food is like for vegetarians? I’m not too sure. My parents really enjoy a Greek restaurant in the most abysmal city for restaurants in the world, Framingham. So I thought trying Greek food in a Greek capital, Astoria, would be a guaranteed good choice. But only some of the dishes were enjoyable. However, the ambiance is nice, especially in the summer time: you can sit outside, enjoy piney Greek wine or refreshing Greek beer, and people watch in the warm air.

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Aliada is on 29th and Broadway, Astoria, NY.

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I realized that maybe nachos weren’t Pio Maya’s specialty and, my second time there, decided to try a spinach burrito.

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The burrito was definitely better than the nachos, but that’s not saying much, since the nachos were basically just cheese with one black bean on the top.
The menu says that the burrito is “stuffed with beans, rice, guacamole, cheese” and in my case, spinach. But in reality, the burrito is STUFFED with rice and spinach and a little bit of cheese, and the beans and guacamole are on the top. I really dislike rice in burritos (I don’t eat rice folded up inside rotis) so I asked for it on the side. The man behind the counter smiled and said, we don’t do that. So I shrugged, and said fine and ate rice filled burrito. It was not bad, for a rice-filled burrito. The rice was mushy.
This burrito did not come close to an Anna’s burrito- no nice chopped up grilled veggies (onions, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes), no nice melty cheese (instead this weird crumbly white cheese that is so popular in NY Mexican restaurants) and no generosity in the portions of black beans. Oh well. Apparently, Pio Maya’s beef burrito is super good.

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