Astoria, Barbecue
Aug 22, 2014

More Delicious Details on Nature’s Taste on Ditmars

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with John Zervoulakos, who I originally know as friend to one of our favorite ‘cue masters, Tyson Ho. John was also a pit (…)

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with John Zervoulakos, who I originally know as friend to one of our favorite ‘cue masters, Tyson Ho. John was also a pit master at John Brown Smokehouse in LIC and was head of the barbecue program briefly at Hellgate on the Park—basically, this dude knows his stuff. He wanted to tell me about an awesome project he’s involved with these days, and it turns out it’s with Nature’s Taste! This is the new butcher on Ditmars, but the place is a heck of a lot more than just meat.

Yes, meat is a big part of what’s going on here, and what will be available ranges from raw to cooked. This meat will be raised out on a farm by Riverhead, and butchered at a local USDA facility. Meats and poultry that will be available are Angus beef, Berkshire pork, chicken, lamb, and possibly Muscovy ducks. The animals will be pastured, and the beef and pork will be grass fed/grass finished. They will also have eggs for sale—including those from Araucana chickens who make eggs with green shells—at $6/dozen. Yes, you will be able to have green eggs and ham in Astoria.

You’ll be able to buy cuts of these meats, but the meat will also be used for gyros—chicken and pork—and it will not be turned into pressed meat like you see so many places. I was told that it will be stacked, which means pieces of meat are stacked on the spindle. There will also be rotisserie chicken, again, made with the meat from their farm. It is not too common to get pastured rotisserie chicken, so this will be a real treat. Look for souvlaki as well.

John will also be smoking meats and preparing delicious barbecue. He’s got a smoker at his disposal that can accommodate 250 pounds of meat at one time.

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Look for pulled pork, brisket, and ribs to come out of that smoker. He also has his own rub, and will be making a KS-style sauce to mix with the pulled pork. He’ll also have sauce available on the side, and at some point he might put together a Carolina style mustard sauce, too.

As for those gyros I mentioned earlier, they’ll be making the tzatziki from scratch (I saw them draining the cucumbers downstairs). A Greek friend of theirs will be making fresh Greek pies, which will be available for purchase. She’ll also be making baklava from scratch, filled with almonds, which is apparently a popular pastry nut option in Cyprus.

They’ll offer a number of pantry items, from canned gigantes, pickled vegetables, cold drinks, noodles, and Spanish tortas (a crisp, round cracker-like item), among other things. And speaking of Spanish food, they’ll have some products—meats and cheeses—from Despaña, and they plan to have a representative from the company come in a slice some of the cured meats as a demonstration. They also have a friend (a recent culinary school grad) who will be making fresh ravioli, which will be for sale. I also spotted Kerrygold butter (my favorite), a Greek whipped butter, and pints and quarts of Trickling Springs milk, which is excellent (they use it are nearby OK Cafe).

They plan to set up a few tables up front where you can eat any of the sandwiches they make. There’s also a backyard which will be open for seating.

It sounds like a great addition to the Ditmars area and is just adding to the amazing mix that is developing on the boulevard. We expect to see them open later in August. And we’ll be there when they open!

Nature’s Taste, 35-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105, (718) 956-7433, Facebook

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.

4 Comments

yeahqueens

By the way, this place has gone down hill. No longer open when it says it will be (they frequently close an hour early), they rarely have all the items on their menu and when you go in – it’s a ghost town.

It’s a shame. Looks like they are not fully committed to working hard at being a competitive storefront on Ditmars Blvd, in astoria.

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Jose Joseph McGeek

What’s going on with this place? Is it fully open or did they have a soft opening? If they aren’t ready (they’re definitely not ready), what are they doing? Spanish food, ravioli, gyros, smoked meats…seems like they are casting too wide of a net. The sign alludes to their lack of focus: “Nature’s Taste – Fresh From Our Farm – 1) wood smoked bbq 2) meats 3) souvlaki, 4) gyros 5) sandwiches”. Their marketing firm must not have informed them of the rule of the drive by signage, where studies have shown you have 1.5 seconds to capture attention/inform the customer with your sign.

There is so much potential here for greatness. I hope they can get things going soon. Astoria needs smoked meats.

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