24 | BOROMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2014 Story + Photos Bradley hawks Three longtime friends began brewing the idea of a specialty seafood shack right here in Astoria several years ago. Their notion was to build and create everything, thinking as if they were the customer. While they would provide unique and superbly executed dishes along with a cozy and cute atmosphere lovingly designed to reflect a seafood shack in a New England coastal town, they would be also enjoying themselves, having fun and hanging out with the customers. In other words, they wanted to create a place where you are not simply going to have a nice meal in a good restaurant. Instead you would feel as though you are going to your friends’—who just so happen to have a very cute place, with lobster traps as lampshades and a swing made from nautical chains—and those friends will keep you company while you enjoy their fantastic culinary creations. Thus, off the Hook was born. “Glenn is our source of inspiration when it comes to new dishes and ideas. And I can tell you that when it comes to combining ingredients and ideas, he’s the Special One,” explains Bes Levonja, who owns the restaurant along with Iglent ‘Glenn’ Fezjulla and Dritan Xhuke. On my most recent visit, I joined eight friends as we tackled the brunch menu for two hours, beginning with a lobster macaroni and cheese, shrimp cocktail, and some grilled oysters Florentine. “From our experience so far, it is really hard to look at the menu and not fall in love with the Lobster Benedict,” explains Bes. “However, that is a dish that doesn’t need recommendation. So I’d favor the idea of Steak ‘n Eggs or maybe that French Toast,” he smiles. Normally, the French toast is served with caramelized apples. But this time around, we were given the chance to know the real Glenn, who tried one of his spontaneous ideas. For our party, he decided to convert one of their homemade desserts, Baked Apples, into the topping for the French Toast. My friends had practically licked the plate clean before I could even stab my first bite. But Off the Hook also recently just introduced a new dinner menu, featuring a few exciting dishes like a Shrimp Mofongo, Lobster Caesar Salad, and Grilled Quail. And dinner is every bit as fantastic as brunch. With a full bar, they offer a wide range of cocktails, as well. And their panna cotta and chocolate cake are decadently drizzled with a homemade raspberry coulis that perfectly cuts the richness. If you want an authentic seafood shack, with quality recipes and ingredients, you really needn’t look any further. Check out Off the Hook, because that is precisely what it is.     Off the Hook
 28-08 34th St., Astoria, NY 11103 Dinner daily from 5 p.m.
718-721-2112 FOOD & DRINK

To see the actual publication please follow the link above