>> Aliada | Eat the World NYC

02 April 2019



For its first 15 years of existence, Aliada blended into its Astoria block with a facade and color scheme that was much like the building it lived in: brown and subdued. Then in 2017 a fresh coat of Mediterranean white was splashed on both sides of the corner and somehow the restaurant showed more life. Of course for the Greek and Cypriot regulars who have been coming here since it opened in 2002, none of that mattered like the trusted food on the plates.

Stepping into the modern, clean dining room feels right with slow Mediterranean vibes and calming Greek music, but touches of rustic make the place appealing and comfortable. Pottery, wood furniture and accents, baskets and framed island arts hung on the walls are enough to leave behind the rattling of the subway a block away.

In the front of the space is the kitchen, designed with a terracotta-tiled "roof" that works well on a nice day with the doors open to make you feel outside. In fact, the weather was nice enough on this visit for the first time in 2019 that a couple tables were even set up on the sidewalk.

Aliada, like the water-surrounded countries of Greek and Cyprus tend to do, has food that is focused on the sea. For this meal I had come in search of a specifically Cypriot meat dish though. Regardless of your order, a basket of warm pita arrives with their freshly made hummus, helping pass the time it takes for the kitchen to prepare meals from scratch.

In Cyprus they also eat their fare share of the well-known souvlaki, charred skewers of meat that have always felt right at home in Astoria, but on top of their charcoal grills you are more likely to find larger cuts of meat that require lower heat and longer cooking times. These are referred to as souvla, and can be many types of meat.

The most interesting of any souvla is the shieftalia ($21, above and below), a link wrapped with caul fat, the thin membrane found surrounding some internal organs. A few spices are thrown into the simple dish of minced pork, onions, and parsley.

Caul fat has nowhere near the strength of a more traditional sausage wrapper and grilling is a delicate and skilled task. It will start to break apart even if you look at it too intensely, something hard to avoid as the plate arrives smelling delicious. Choice of side is offered with any plate, but the slight zing from the lemon potatoes pairs very nicely with the fatty links.

A plastic shaker of Greek salt and bottle of olive oil are on each table, but for this meal at least, completely unnecessary as everything is dashed and drizzled to perfection when it arrives.

The first sections of the menu are grilled whole fish sold at market rates and other seafood dishes you would expect from a reputable establishment with "Greek" on the front. A family-style meal would be recommended here.

When you come as a group, a good variety of Greek, Cypriot, and other wines are available, but on this day alone I washed down the meal with a Keo ($6, below), Cyprus's most recognizable beer around since 1951.

Aliada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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