Astoria, Astoria Arrivals, Restaurants
May 07, 2013

Astoria Arrivals – MP Taverna

MP Taverna has arrived in Astoria, and has brought fresh and delicious Greek food with it. Here are Judith and Meg’s take on the dishes they tried last week.

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Recently, Judith and I had the chance to try the food at MP Taverna, the new Greek restaurant that opened up on Ditmars Blvd in the past few weeks. The place is crazy busy, and it’s great to see so much interest in it – from what we can tell, people love their food. And rightly so – both Judith and I loved what we tried. Here are our impressions of the various dishes we tried.

Yogurt Dip

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This was the first thing served to us and I loved how creamy it was. It’s not a chunky tzatziki, but more refined in texture. The addition of the vegetables – onions, scallions, and peppers – was a nice touch. -Meg

I loved the rusticity of this dish and appreciated the grilled veggies that were served in their original state – not chopped into small bits.  The tzatziki that rested on the bottom was velvety and smooth and a total pleasure to smear on the well-done grilled pita bread. – Judith

Beet Salad

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This was a seriously delicious beet salad – the beets had a nice sweet tang to them, as if they’d been marinated in citrus juice. The accompanying grapefruit supremes were nice, too, along with the beans. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. -Meg

Bulgar Salad

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I’m a fan of tabouli, so I was looking forward to this salad, and I was delighted with how tasty it was. The pomegranate seeds were one of my favorite parts of the salad, and I liked how it had a good balance of vegetables to the grains. -Meg

I’ve also had this dish at the other MP Taverna in Roslyn and it was pretty comparable – colorful, rutic and really refreshing.  When I first had it, it was in the summer time, and this is still very much what this dish means to me.  I’d happily get it again on a hot day.  – Judith

Grandma’s Greek Meatballs

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I’m a big meatball lover, and this were really delicious. I loved the sauce and the tender balls. I would eat them again in a heartbeat. -Meg

Wowza! Soutzoukakia is one of my favorite all-time Greek dishes, and I always think of the homemade version that my friend Moses’ mom makes.  This was pretty close to it – the interior was tender and juicy, and the hearty veggie sauce tasted like came out of yia-yia’s kitchen. – Judith

Octopus

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I first fell in love with octopus over at Taverna Kyclades, and I was really happy with the octopus dish at MP Taverna. It was fresh, meaty, and the addition of the chickpeas was really nice. -Meg

Being a tough critic of octopus, this passed the test with flying colors.  I know it may sound strange but it tasted as if the octopus was massaged to the point where it had absolutely perfect melt-in-your mouth texture.  The char on the outside was pretty impressive too. – Judith

Scallops

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These tender scallops were so good. I’m a mild scallop lover, and I truly enjoyed these. The dried cherries were a nice touch, and I liked that they were served with some spinach. I also liked the bit of caramelization on the outside of the scallops, which didn’t interfere with their tenderness. -Meg

This was yet another dish that I had at the original MP Taverna in Roslyn and it was pretty comparable.  Cooked perfectly, the scallops were easy to pierce with your fork, and I also very much enjoyed the earthy accouterments such as the blanched baby spinach as well as the tart dried cherries on top that added a hint of sweetness.  – Judith

Greek Paella

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This is Psilakis’s take on paella, done with orzo pasta, and piled with clams and mussels. On the menu it specifies greek sausage, too, but I didn’t taste any if it was there. If you are a shellfish lover, you will likely enjoy this very much. -Meg

I adored the rustic, communal nature of this dish, as it was fun to share with my comrades and then shortly after talk about it.  Being a big fan of seafood, I enjoyed the medley on this plate including mussels, clams, fish and other sea yummies that were intermingled with Greek orzo.  It’d be fabulous to share this with 2 or 3 people next time you come here. – Judith

Dourade

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This was grilled and then split open and filleted. There were still a few bones in there, so be careful. The fish was mild and fresh and at times tasted almost sweet. It comes with grilled lemons (yum), and some vegetables. I liked this fish very much. -Meg

A simple, clean dish, I think it’s one of the basics when you go to any good Greek restaurant.  I liked that MP kept it uncomplicated and really let the fish shine as the star of the show.  Simple grilled veggies and lemon were used as its accompaniments, which was just perfect.  – Judith

Grilled Prawns

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I am not a big shrimp fan, but I liked this dish just the same (I actually skipped the prawns). But the rice accompanying it was really good – it had a taste of the sea a bit, but with lemon and spinach. I found it to be light and savory. -Meg

Mmmm…I enjoyed pretty much everything on this plate, including the beautiful prawns and the almost stew-like rice and veggies that soaked up the lemony sauce.  It reminded me of something I’d have on a Mediterranean island on the beach with an ice cold beer.  Again, a perfect dish for spring or summer.  – Judith

Broccoli Rabe

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Green and yummy! I love broccoli rabe and they prepared this so simply and beautifully – the taste of the broccoli rabe really came through but without an overpowering bitterness that can accompany it. The texture was also excellent – not overcooked but not raw. A really winner. -Meg

Greek Yogurt with Fresh Berries

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This dessert was ridiculously delicious. It is so basic – creamy Greek yogurt, fresh berries (and a bit of citrus), pepitas, and some honey. It was satisfying and wonderful. For a light end to a meal, this is perfect. -Meg

Who said that dessert has to be fancy schmancy?! This one was as simple as can be but also really perfect.  The yogurt was silky smooth and a bit tangy, as Greek yogurt is.  I enjoyed the still whole fruit on top, which added nice freshness along with a shot of sweetness from the golden honey.  I can’t wait to have this at home too! – Judith

Galaktoboureko

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This was my favorite dessert of the evening. I loved the whole thing, but especially the crunchy bits of phyllo dusted on the fresh, which was another awesome element of this dish. It was a fresh take on an old standard, and totally worked for me. -Meg

Even though this dish was pretty good, it wasn’t my favorite, as I really enjoy Galaktoboureko in its original form, encased in phyllo dough.  This one wasn’t really like that, as it more reminded me of creme brulee than Galaktoboureko.  It’s my opinion that they should rename this dish or maybe change it up a bit to make it more like its namesake.  – Judith

Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream

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This nod to a traditional American dessert was super yum. It’s hard – for me, anyway – to find anything wrong with chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. The cake was rich and chocolatey and the ice cream was the most excellent foil to the richness of the cake. -Meg

Standard, basic goodness never goes out of style, and this warm chocolate cake exemplified just that.  Despite it looking rich and heavy, it was anything but that, and I liked that it wasn’t overly sweet.  The ice cream and walnuts on top were great for contrast in texture and the whole thing not only tasted good, it was executed with care.  – Judith

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We also had a chance to talk with Michael Psilakis in person, and he proved himself to be really down to earth and happy to be in Astoria. He has lots of memories of hanging out in the neighborhood during his youth, and he just feels really good to be contributing to the Astoria restaurant scene.

Overall, the meal was just fabulous. We can’t wait to go back.

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MP Taverna, 31-29 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, NY 11105, (718) 777-2187, MP Taverna Astoria

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

2 Comments

Kathy Genco

Wow! I can’t wait to get in there to try the amazing food. Thinking for my birthday, as Astoria is not around the corner. I have followed Michael’s career from the very beginning and he just gets better and better!

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Phillip

Sounds great! I hope it lasts, there aren’t really any places in Astoria that re-imagine the classic dishes for lack of a better term. The whole roasted animal option is really really really cool sounding to me. Although, I’m sure most restaurants would fulfill that request if you asked far enough in advance.

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