A long-awaited dining room in Astoria is finally open

It was quite a journey for Astoria’s World Artisan Market. The dining hall on 31st Street, which has become a warehouse, was first announced in 2018 but was then hit by a change of ownership, the global pandemic, supply chain problems and construction delays associated with a sustained city bureaucracy.

But finally, since last week, five of the seven rooms here are in use. A sixth, the legendary Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights, will open soon.

WAM, as it calls itself, is actually more of a strip mall than a food hall, with each restaurant having a separate entrance on the sidewalk, as well as space for its own outdoor dining area. And for the most part, these are full-service sit-down restaurants, as opposed to the usual food court model of takeout counters and communal sitting areas.

The interiors retain their industrial character throughout—exposed ductwork and HVAC, high ceilings, poured concrete floors—but each restaurant has been given plenty of leeway to personalize their space, and it doesn’t feel like a cookie at all. A particularly welcome feature on this semi-desolate piece of 31st: the building is set far enough from the street, and the elevated N/W above, that plenty of light pours in through all those large windows in the front.

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Gothamist visited the largely completed site last Sunday afternoon. Here’s an overview of what to expect.

under the moon

The oldest of the bunch here is Sotto la Luna, which opened about six months ago with a team of five Italian-born partners, two of whom also operate the popular Sunnyside spots Sotto Le Stelle Pizzeria and Sole Luna. This is a double-wide space, so there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and the menu is full of crowd pleasers, mostly pizzas coming out of a large wood oven in the back, and pastas, such as a top-notch Cacio e Pepe finished at the table in a large Parmesan wheel .

elves

Astoria-born Georgia Koutsoupakis, the baker and owner of Elevenses, was actually the first to sign a lease with WAM, though it took a little longer to open than the folks at Sotto la Luna. At its core, Elevenses is a coffee shop, with a full range of pastries – the name refers to the British late-morning snack, which you may also remember from “The Lord of the Rings” – but Koutsoupakis is interested in more than just filling people up on the go. .

“I’ve worked in the field long enough that I wanted to open a place that was different from what I had experienced,” Koutsoupakis told Gothamist. “Not only run more humanely, but also more environmentally friendly, with less product waste. I live very close, and I know there is no such thing in the area, and I want to change this, near my My goal is to create a place to be where friends can meet, a place where families are comfortable and happy, where the whole feeling is like being in your living room.”

astoria room

A sort of follow-up to the Sala on Bowery in Manhattan with a hatch, the WAM Sala offers an extensive menu of familiar Spanish tapas, in both “pinchos” and “raciones” formats, as well as platters of Paella de Mariscos for two or more people. Like Sotto, Sala has taken over two storefronts here, and in addition to a large bar, two dining rooms and sidewalk seating, there’s also a stylish lounge-y area where they host flamenco evenings, among other things.

Urban Vegan Roots

About a week ago, Jackson Heights native David Tianga and his partner Tara Oles opened this all-vegan offshoot of their West Village spot, Urban Vegan Kitchen, though the gas hasn’t turned on yet. Never mind, this place is still a delight, from the hilariously random celebrity photo gallery that takes up almost the entire wall space (Joe Namath! Bjork! Nikola Tesla! Nina Simone!) Bardslee, who is also responsible for booking the burlesque shows from the restaurant. Great food, good goofy fun.

Potlux kitchen

Disappointingly, the large Asian offerings here turn out to be a jumble of haunted kitchens meant for delivery only. Among the brands inside are Pho Noodles, Hiro Ramen, Cloud Turtle Boil Seafood, T-Swirl Crepe, and Shun Lee Express, which made some really awful dumplings. Even if you’d like to order from the kiosks by the door, there isn’t really a place to sit, especially since someone is using the sidewalk to park their car, rather than setting out tables.

The World Artisan Market is located at 34-39 31st Street, corner of 35th Avenue, in Astoria; opening times vary per restaurant

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