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Astoria cafe pleases many palates

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Astoria has grown to become one of the borough's most diverse neighborhoods in recent years, and Ted Kouris said his newly opened Lava Bar & Grill can cater to the varying needs of the community's protean population.

The cafe, which opened in May at 27-03 23rd Avenue in Astoria, features a variety of entrees, from hamburgers and 10-inch pizzas to Asian beef salad and linguini with pesto and sun dried tomatoes, and offers deserts, liquors and an extensive weekend brunch menu.

Kouris, an Astoria realtor who owns the eatery with neighborhood entrepreneurs Costas Nioulikos and Joseph Gripachi, said Lava will cover the needs of all Astoria residents — including Greeks, Italians, families and young professionals — for a reasonable price.

"I'm neither a five-star restaurant or a diner — I'm in between," Kouris said. "I want to offer great, homemade food at good prices. I'd rather make less profit per dish, but get more volume."

The menu's pizzas and sandwiches, served with homemade french fries, range from $6 to $11, while entrees are only $12 to $17. Lava also features a variety of house salads, ranging in price from $6 to $11, and all deserts, such as tiramisu or cheese cake, are $4.

The food is prepared by two chefs — Jimmy Stavrianakis, previously the head chef at Astoria's Grand Cafe, and Nick Saragis, previously the top chef at Cavo — who said they wanted Lava to be an all-purpose neighborhood eatery.

"We'd like to do a Greek-Asian fusion — a mixture of everything," Stavrianakis said. "We get the older Greek and Italian crowds, as well as the young people and the [local] bar crowd, so we have wings and burgers as well."

The restaurant also includes a full brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, featuring a number of breakfast items including eggs Benedict, pancakes, crab Benedict and waffles.

Kouris said he would soon add organic pasta and chicken dishes to the menu, as well as include other services at the restaurant, such as Internet service, backgammon games and a 50-inch plasma screen television on which customers can watch soccer games.

Lava is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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