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THE COURIER/Photo by Bradley Hawks

BY BRADLEY HAWKS

Just over a month ago, the team behind Stix bravely opened its third location in the space formerly occupied by La Bottega, and prior to that, Mix Cafe + Lounge. This time around, the look is completely new. Call it contemporary Aegean. Comfort Greek. Mediterranean Meze.

The interior, designed by A2 Interiors Studio, is clean, fresh and white, with mirrors adding the illusion of vast space, and navy webs of woven ropes like nautical sprigs of seaweed dropped from the ceiling. Photographs of Astoria taken by a restaurant manager are displayed on the walls.

The concept is simple. Nearly everything comes skewered with a wooden stick.

Shisito peppers. Lamb. Mac and cheese balls. Quinoa balls. Tuna. Meatballs. Shrimp. Baby potatoes.

Think Mediterranean dishes — gorgeously executed — and prepared for sharing.

We were lucky enough to stop in and sample a wide portion of the menu. We also spoke with the owner and creator, Stathis Antonakopoulos.

LobsterBaconMacAndCheese

“I grew up inside the kitchen of a hotel in Greece,” explains Antonakopoulos, “and I love to cook, create and eat.” Prior to opening Stix, he served as director of operations for the Kellari Hospitality Group in Manhattan for seven years. And that’s when everything changed over a burger and milkshake at Shake Shack.

Admittedly a fan of Danny Meyer, Antonakopoulos explains, “He took the oldest concept — a burger and a shake — and gave it good quality and good branding. And he created an empire. So I thought, I’m Greek and Mediterranean. How can I do something similar? That’s when I realized no one has taken food on sticks, and make it gourmet at a low cost.”

The first skewer-centric restaurant opened its doors just two years ago on 23rd Street. “We opened one more restaurant in Chelsea, and this is our third restaurant,” smiles Antonakopoulos, who has now been in the U.S. for 16 years. “I came for my bachelor’s and master’s, and now I have lived in Astoria 11 years, so this is my home. My first job in the United States was at Christos Steakhouse, and so Astoria is a part of who I am.”

Enjoy these images of their decadent lobster bacon mac and cheese, fluffy pillows of homemade pita, and assorted skewers of sausage, braised meatballs, peppers, octopus and fried quinoa balls served with jalapeño hummus.

HomemadePitaAndTzatziki

Then get yourself to Stix. It isn’t just good — it’s awesome. And much more than just another souvlaki stand. Dine in for the full experience, or you can order directly from their website. They are open all day, every day, and even offer a special brunch menu on the weekends, which includes pancake lollipops and lobster omelettes. And yes, they have a full bar, as well as a cautiously edited wine list so you can choose from specialty cocktails and European wines. Their sidewalk permit is in the works for the summertime, too.

Save room for a little nest of Paradise — a crisp, shredded angel hair kataifi sandwich filled with hazelnuts, chantilly cream and rose water honey. It’s a dessert you will not soon forget.

Stix is located at 40-17 30th Ave., on the corner of 30th Avenue and 41st Street just east of Steinway.

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