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NW Astoria - intel on Sabri Nihari Grill and Lorusso? (LONGISH)

Walking through northwestern Astoria yesterday, I spotted a few places I'm curious to go back and try. I wondered if anyone is already familiar with them (a search revealed no substantial posts on CH, unfortunately...).

First, Sabri Nihari Grill (21st St., just south of Astoria Blvd.). We stopped in for an anda parantha (egg omlete rolled up in a plain parantha) and cups of chai -- both were well made, though the parantha was a bit heavy on the oil (liberal use of hot green chilis - mirchis - in the egg helped to counteract the greasiness).

Everything was made fresh to order. We watched the cook boil our chai (cardamum, milk, and tea) in a pot on the stove -- old school, patila-wali chai!

The only other customers were a Bangladeshi family, who complained of the lack of "heat" (i.e., spiciness) in their dishes. Sabri Nihari Grill is clearly Pakistani, though. The cook spoke Hindi with us (our first clue), and the house specialty, nihari (a simmered meat dish brought from Northern India to Pakistan after Partition), is a Pakistani favorite (a give-away).

Other interesting menu features: whole goat peshawari style ($300!), chicken kofta with egg, a desert I've never seen before - zarda - and doodh patti (chai boiled in milk, rather than water). The naans coming out of the tandoor and heading straight to table also looked amazing.

Second, Lorusso (26th Road @18th St.). Their specialty seems to be focaccia -- of which they had almost a dozen varieties (with many excellent vegetable versions available!). (They also had some unimpressive whole pizza pies and calzones.)

Small bags of nice-looking taralli (baked on site?) were on display, and jars of homemade pesto and hot sauce were for sale, as well. On the menu under soups: pasta & fagiolo and lenticchia.

Clearly not just another greasy slice joint, but has anyone tried their focaccia? is it worth the trek to try it (we were too stuffed from our enormous anda parantha -- noted above -- to order anything)?

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Lorusso
18-01 26th Rd, Queens, NY 11102

Sabri Nihari & Grill
28-02 21st St, Queens, NY 11102

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  1. Good to know about Sabri. Here's some previous talk about LoRusso ... http://www.chow.com/digest/38924/its-...

    1 Reply
    1. re: squid kun

      Thanks, squid kun. Sounds like LoRusso is definitely worth checking out.

    2. I worked around the corner from LoRusso for almost 4 years and ate there at least once a week. The focaccia is the best item on the menu (but the regular pizza is better than it looks). My favorite focaccia topping was chicken strips and spinach, but I never had one I didn't like and I think I tried them all. The taralli are baked on site and also very good.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sloth

        yes, the foccaccia at LoRusso is the way to go. As Sloth stated...they all are pretty good. Unfortunately, I think that the rest of their menu is just fair.

        Great to hear about Sabri. I have walked by that place so many times and I have never tried it. The smells that come of the place are amazing though.

        1. re: Sloth

          I almost forgot about their split pea soup! It comes with croutons made from their garlic bread and was a major force in keeping me alive during this past winter. The other soups aren't as good, but the split pea is special.

          1. re: Sloth

            Sloth and Yaxpac, thanks for the LoRusso tips. I will try to get back there asap for some focaccia and maybe even some splitpea soup (if the weather stays cool).

            1. re: Sloth

              Thank you for the heads up on the Split Pea soup. I would never have ordered it otherwise.

              It is indeed a special soup. I was very surprised at how good it was, especially with the homemade slices of garlic bread croutons.

              1. re: Yaxpac

                Glad you enjoyed it. Now I'm sorry that I'm out of their delivery zone.

          2. My husband and I got take-out from Sabri Nihari last night. It was good, but it didn't knock our socks off. We had the signature nihari, which is beef in a sauce. The beef was very tender and the sauce definitely had depth to it and a very mild heat. I had trouble finding much meat on the hunks of bone-in goat in our goat dish, but that's not really specific to this meal. I'm not sure what the name of the goat dish was, but it was apparently baby goat. The sauce was similar to the one on the nihari. We also got an order of saag, which was a pretty typical version of the spinach and potato dish. The naan bread was definitely the standout--freshly made to order. The plain basmati rice that accompanied the meal was weirdly greasy.

            All in all, the people were nice and the food decent--a good place to have around the corner, but maybe not worth a trip from another neighborhood, unless you were going to get the $300 whole goat! I'd be interested to hear from people about some of the other dishes on the menu. A lot of it looked like standard Indian dishes. There were a couple I didn't recognize and assumed they were more traditionally Pakistani.

            1 Reply
            1. re: versicle

              versicle, agreed.

              Sabri Nihari is not revelatory S. Asian fare -- just good, basic stuff (like the anda parantha we tried, which was great, though it doesn't take culinary genius to make this simple breakfast street food well...) and some interesting options that I hadn't seen elsewhere (like the Nihari).

              I also noticed that the dishes in the steam table were pretty generously oiled...which always disappoints me (S. Asian food is so much better when it's light on oil, in my opinion!).

              Re: the lack of heat in your dish: You might ask them to give you some of those little, green chilis ("mirchis" in urdu/hindi) to eat on the side with your food -- those definitely help to kick up the heat. When I was there, my husband (who is Indian) got them to put those in our egg omlette, which made it MUCH better (in my opinion, as a spice-lover).

            2. Is Sabri Nihari Grill open any more? Looked pretty shuttered to me last two times I've been past. Maybe if I'd bought that whole goat I could have helped them pull through.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mr Porkchop

                I haven't been by in a few months. I'll have to check it out next time I had to the Astoria courts for some tennis. The last time we were there, the owner was speaking ominously of financial troubles...