Istria Sports Club
29-08 Astoria Blvd, Astoria
Hoyt Avenue South near 23rd Street, Astoria
Despite what you might think, this is not an entry about Italy at all. In fact, it is an entry about overcoming fear and trepidation in Astoria……there have been two places that the Astoria Crew has been curious about for some time. One is a restaurant called “The Istria Sport Club” located on Astoria Blvd, sporting a tantalizing menu of Istrian classic dishes, but also looking exceedingly unwelcoming with a large metal door with no windows and the impression that it is only a male establishment. The other, a new wine bar located on Astoria Park South called “Kaoveve” and pronounced “Kaf-en-ay” phonetically. This place was originally called “Steve’s Place” and was filled to the brim with older Greek gentlemen with cigars and cigarettes drinking expresso and playing cards every day. This was a place where little ‘ole Spud had to walk by on her way to the subway where she could actually feel the men’s eyes boring holes into her…..the testosterone simply creating a large barrier and unwelcoming spirit, no matter how many times Bleff said that they had the best Frappe’s ……Spud could not stand the thought of entering the establishment.
So, imagine the Astoria Crew’s surprise when we decided to tackle both of these haunts in one night! And, of course, lots of fun ensued. In order to get to the restaurant portion of the Istria Sports club, you need to walk down a narrow staircase, whereupon you will enter a small room with quaint Croatian overtones……and then onto the back room, which is large and opens out onto a full patio, which must be awesome in the summer time. Overall, the interior was not in the least scary or intimidating.
Finally, the food! We asked our waiter to bring us out some house specialties and so he brought us some fried fish, fried calamari, a soup (massive bowl) with kielbasa, beans, barley, and vegetables in this smoky broth. Then the main dishes of meat, veal and assorted sausages, and a handmade pasta dish with a slow-cooked veal sauce…..they were all amazing and highly recommended. All of this with a huge bottle of wine kept us quite satiated and the best part being that the food and drink was dirt cheap! Overall, this was a hugely wonderful experience and everyone in the neighborhood should go.
On to Kaoveve! We were already a little drunk as we walked through the door and were met immediately with a warm welcome from all of the locals and the wait staff practically fell over each other helping us out. The owner (Costas) immediately set us up in the back room with free appetizers of hummus and vegetables and cheese and pita and a really tasty sausage with beautiful glasses of free champagne with blueberries and strawberries floating in them. The glasses of wine we ordered were gigantic and delicious. The back room is enclosed and there is semi-loud music playing, but it is a nice place to hang out with friends.
Since I started this post, Kaoveve has actually grown to be an actual restaurant. WeCouldEat and I have not been back to dinner there yet, but we run into Costas all the time and some of our friends have been back and said that although the new menu is small, the food is quite good. We are looking forward to checking it out!
By the way, the explanation of the title of this post is that there was an older Greek woman in Kaoveve when we were in there, and we asked what the name meant and it sounded like a heavily accented “Place between Naples and France”……we later realized that she had said, “A place for your neighbors and friends”…..very fitting.