Astoria, Featured, Food and Drink, Small Business Owners Spotlight
Dec 02, 2016

Small Business Owner Spotlight: Ovelia Celebrates 10 Years!

It’s no secret that Astoria is known for its fantastic Greek restaurants. One spot that demonstrates our neighborhood’s Greek roots while also embracing modern taste is Ovelia, who are celebrating (…)

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It’s no secret that Astoria is known for its fantastic Greek restaurants. One spot that demonstrates our neighborhood’s Greek roots while also embracing modern taste is Ovelia, who are celebrating their ten year Astoria anniversary. To highlight their influence on our ‘hood, they’re our next featured Small Business Owner Spotlight.

And if you’re looking for brunch plans this weekend, there’s a good chance these photos might give you some ideas!

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Name of Business

Ovelia

Owned by

The Giannakas Family

Year opened

2006

Address

34-01 30th Ave., Astoria., NY 11103

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What are you known for?

We are a Greek restaurant and bar serving both traditional and contemporary Greek dishes, plus great cocktails. We use the freshest and highest quality ingredients we can get our hands on. We serve up a unique brunch, and Greek inspired dishes that reflects a great deal who we are: Greek-Americans. Dishes like our saganaki burger, eggs florentine made with spinach pie, and our baklava pancakes.

Do you also live in Queens, if so where? How did you end up here?

Peter was born and raised in Astoria, Chris and parents were born in Athens.
We all live by the Ditmars area.

What made you decide to open a restaurant in Astoria?

We opened up Ovelia because we felt we had an arsenal of great recipes and experience that could be brought to Astorians, Greek traditional in a hip setting. We wanted to steer away from the typical taverna style dining experience and give something a little more up to date to include twists on typical Greek ingredients and dishes, all while enjoying a great cocktail and  contemporary music.

What’s been your favorite moment since opening so far?

Hands down the best moment was when Lincoln Center and Dave Eggar approached us with writing and performing the MusiKitchen back in 2012. It was a short show that combined two of my loves, music and cooking. Dave, Chuck Palmer, Rachel Sage and I wrote and performed a little story of a restaurateur trying to juggle life and the business. We showcased our family recipes and some original and Greek traditional music in front of a Lincoln Center audience!

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What’s your favorite dish on your menu?

Currently it has to be the Lamb Tigania! It’s like poutine on Greek steroids (if that can even be a thing). Hand cut, skin on French fries with shredded lamb au jus tossed all together with kefalograviera cheese and scallions. It’s a great potatoes-and-meat dish balanced so well between the savory lamb, the sweetness of our fries, and the sharpness of the cheese that makes my mouth water.

What’s the most popular item on your menu?

That would be the Monastiraki bifteki. A well seasoned and fire roasted kofte kebab of lamb and pork, named after the neighborhood in Athens where my parents would go on to dinner dates to enjoy this. It made its way into mainland Greece through the Greek refugees of Asia Minor (coast of Turkey, where Greek culture once flourished). That recipe is also important to us as both sides of our families had been refugees and settled first on the islands near the coast and then to Athens where both parents were born.

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What’s your favorite place to grab food when you’re working?

I always love to take a break from Ovelia and take a walk over to Seva. Great food, great prices and always fresh and consistent.

What’s a hidden Astoria secret you feel like people don’t know about that you absolutely love?


Movie night at Astoria Park. However, Kaufman Studios, Socrates Sculpture park, the Museum of the Moving Image, Noguchi and PS1 as well! Sometimes I feel most people don’t realize Astoria has all of this to offer.

What’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

I can always count on William Hallet, The Bonnie, or Let Love Inn for my libation of choice which is usually tequila or whiskey.

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If you have friends or family visiting Astoria, where do you take them?

Los Amigos for awesome authentic Mexican food. I’ve been going there since I was 15. I’m 37 now. That’s loyalty!

How have you seen Astoria change since you’ve been here?

It has changed quite a bit between the businesses that have opened up and the vibrant young professionals that have taken advantage of such a great neighborhood with so much to offer in the way of food, recreation and leisure. You can find anything in this neighborhood and it still has managed to remain just that, a neighborhood!

What’s your favorite part of owning a business in Queens?

Just like the neighborhood evolves, so do we! It’s a force that drives us to innovate and rethink our business model constantly. It keeps us on our toes and makes it all the more interesting. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

We also can’t wait to see what’s next! Thanks to Ovelia for chatting with us, and congrats on 10 rockin’ years in Astoria!

Ovelia Psistaria (34-01 30th Ave, Astoria) | (718) 721-7217)
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About Lindsay Goyette

Lindsay has been eating and drinking her way through Queens since 2011. A casting director by day and Astoria explorer by night, you can usually find her checking out live music, theatre, or the newest neighborhood spot to enjoy a craft beer.

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