Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy where I moved to in New Jersey, but living in Jersey in general makes me crave the New York experience like nothing else. After settling in at my new digs, I knew I had to make a trip into the city. It was time. On a recent Saturday night I headed out to Bayside, Queens, for a fabulous night of celebrating the birth of my friend Eric and reuniting with many old college friends I hadn’t seen in years.
But Sunday means brunch, and after stumbling around for a couple of hours after I woke up I ventured in to Astoria to celebrate yet another birthday—this time for a fabulous lady named Cassi. This celebration, however, revolved primarily around eggs and hashbrowns rather than the previous nights’ debauchery of drinks, food, a DJ, hot tub, pool, and bottle of Jim Beam.
Brunch was at Vesta. I stumbled out of the cab, still half in the bag, and into a nice, small restaurant located at 21-02 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens, NY.
The lovely ladies who greeted me were my sister’s friends, and I was so happy to be able to celebrate with them. I sat. We chatted. We laughed. We waited for the other girls to show up. Unfortunately there was not a Bloody Mary in sight. I’d been craving hair of the dog since I woke up, so I settled for a mimosa, which was still quite delightful.
We were all so hungry as we waited for the last lady to join us that we decided to order a Hangover Pizza in the meantime. The pizza was out of this world. It was ultra-thin crust with potatoes, pancetta, sausage, fried eggs, and spicy tomato sauce. We dove in with gusto and devoured this culinary gift to those who partied too hard the night before. The yolk of the eggs oozed out over the hearty pizza and it was a short time before we’d finished the whole thing. This pizza was what everyone hopes to get out of brunch but too often has to settle for simple eggs and toast. Not that there’s anything wrong with eggs and toast, but when you know that a Hangover Pizza exists, nothing else will ever suffice.
I really wanted a Warm Bankie (fried eggs with polenta, asparagus, mushrooms, and truffle oil), but when I ordered it the server informed us that they were out of polenta and not making the dish that day. I contemplated asking them if they could just substitute bacon for the polenta, but instead I opted for the L’Italiano, which consisted of poached eggs, grilled Italian bread, hot sopressata, and ricotta. Damn. It was good. The yellow yolk oozed out over the sopressata and ricotta, which was spread thin on the grilled Italian bread. Every bite was hearty and satisfying with that rustic quality that meats like sopressata embody. The hashbrowns that accompanied it were also delicious.
As our breakfast plates were pulled away the server presented us with dessert menus. We groaned in our inability to eat anything more, but Kathleen looked at us all with a devilish smile and sparkle in her eye and suggested the chocolate ganache. We couldn’t resist, and I’m so glad we couldn’t. The chocolate gananche was decadent and rich, with a drizzle of caramel, and that nice element of salt with a sprinkling of peanuts. This is exactly what a candy bar should taste like. Luscious chocolate, sticky caramel, and salty peanuts. It was like a Snickers, but so much better. It also came with fresh whipped cream, which just makes everything in life seem more bright.
The menu at Vesta changes with the season so don’t expect to be able to get these exact dishes when you go there. Just be prepared for a fantastic meal based on exceptional, local ingredients paired with a nice selection of wine and wine-based drinks. Enjoy!