Gallery: Mezze Place: The Neighborhood Middle Eastern Restaurant That Astoria Deserves

Dips ($5 each, 3 for $12, 5 for $15)
Dips ($5 each, 3 for $12, 5 for $15)
The dips are all excellent, worth making a centerpiece of your meal.
Hummus
Hummus
It's so creamy and light you might forget you're eating it, save for an arresting jolt of tahini and diminutive curls of chickpea skin mixed in to keep you grounded.
Labne
Labne
Thick enough to stick a knife in upright, full of fresh tang beneath toasted nigella seeds and a grassy olive oil.
Eggplant Dip
Eggplant Dip
A great balance of creamy texture and subtle smoky flavor, very clean-tasting, and generously portioned.
Pita
Pita
Excellent pita is kept pillowy and warm in a plain brown paper bag.
Zucchini Croquettes ($7)
Zucchini Croquettes ($7)
Cakes of zucchini bound with egg went fast; we relished their creamy texture and sweet flavor, perhaps all the more thanks to the olive oil they drank up as they fried.
Marseille Cigars ($8)
Marseille Cigars ($8)
The short rib in these small pastries is nicely fatty and tender, though it could use more salt, spice, or acidity for balance.
Burekes ($7)
Burekes ($7)
These simple pastries stuffed with feathery spinach and leeks and creamy feta beneath their flaky crusts disappeared fast.
Cyprus Halloumi Salad ($12)
Cyprus Halloumi Salad ($12)
This salad of arugula, beets, quinoa, and grilled halloumi is a tart, refreshing counterpoint to some of the richer dishes, one I enjoyed as a reprieve during my meal, even if it's not much to get excited about.
Butternut Squash Schnitzel
Butternut Squash Schnitzel
A special that may be making its way on the menu in some form, so keep an eye out. It begins with squash that's baked until soft and intensely sweet, then formed into an inch-thick square,* breaded in panko bread crumbs and Parmesan, fried until crisp, and served with black forbidden rice cooked with vegetable stock, capers, and dried cranberries. Does it work? For the most part absolutely, though I wish they'd shape the squash into a series of smaller medallions for a higher cheesy-crust-to-sweet-innards ratio. But the dish shows off the inventiveness and cooking chops the kitchen can deliver when it plays fast and loose with tradition.
Halvah Ice Cream with Toasted Nuts
Halvah Ice Cream with Toasted Nuts
A dessert special well worth ordering: toasted nuts (the mix changes daily) and rice crispies that are delicately caramelized, then topped with vanilla ice cream, date molasses, and spun halvah (which has the texture of chewy cotton candy). It tastes a whole lot like a frozen Snickers bar.
Interior
Interior
The decor is attractive and romantic, dimly lit and peppered with artifacts that make great conversation pieces. I can't stop looking over my shoulder at the chandelier that dominates the space: a pinecone of wires that snake their way skywards, naked light bulbs affixed to their ends, each adorned with tiny birds' wings that flutter in the breeze.
Close Up
Close Up
Interior
Interior
More great decor.