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Grilled pressed greek sandwiches (in Astoria)


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Grilled pressed greek sandwiches (in Astoria)

Photis | Oct 31, 2002 04:33 AM

I've noticed two places in Astoria/Long Island City that sell grilled pressed Greek sandwiches. The strange part is, if you don't know what they are, you'll never even notice them. These places don't do a great job of explaining them, so I thought I would.
In Greece these are for sale everywhere and are a kind of fast food snack if you don't want souvalaki. The first problem here is that they don't even have a good name in English. In Greece they're called "tost," but that creates obvious confusion in English because it's pronounced just like toast. Usually they're just called sandwiches here, but that doesn't do them justice. There's a whole concept behind them. Done right, they're divine. Think of a good cubano, but on a roll, with more on them, and more variety.
Take a roll, put butter on the outside. But meats and cheese on other stuff on the inside, and grill. Yes, you can make them at home. There are many possible ingredients: meats (sausage, bacon salami, hotdogs, hamburgers), cheeses (kasseri, graviera, feta, American), eggs (hard boiled and fried), sweet red peppers, olives, french fries, lettuce, tomato, spreads, etc. Traditionally you pay per ingredient. Look in the trays on display and choose from them.
There are a few keys for good "tost." Of course it's all a matter of taste, but here's my taste: Always get cheese, kesseri is probably the best for melting. Always get a spread. Many choices. The best are tsatsiki (garlic yogurt) or tirosalata (it means cheese salad and is basically a feta spread). Without a spread the sandwich can be a little dry. Then get whatever you like piled on. If there's a good "village" sausage, that's always a good choice. Bacon is a trustworthy standby. With the spread and cheese and vegetables it also makes a great vegetarian sandwich.
So you place your order and the rest is in their hands. But be warned, they often don't do it right. The sandwich is grilled in a hot press. In the end, after grilling, the cold ingredients like lettuce or tomato are put in. The problem is that it has to stay in the grill long enough to heat everything up and melt the cheese. I've found that more often than not this isn't done. It's the difference between waiting 2 minutes and waiting 5 minutes for your food.
If you get your "tost" and it's not hot and melted on the inside, just ask them to grill it bit longer. I've had to do that at both places and they're always happy to oblige. It's that hot, melted-through goodness that really makes these sandwiches special and worth writing about.
Two places that sell them are Everest on 30th Ave and 34th St. (Everest is a straight copy of a place in Athens, Greece, that is actually much better, but the one here is OK) and King Size Donuts. Kind Size is a great (new?) place under the tracks on 31st South of 36th Ave. It's hard to miss, Astoria bound side of the street. It's open 24/7 (as is Everest) and is a bright clean orange place is an wholesale kitchen appliance store neighborhood. If you eat there at one of their four tables they serve things on real plates and have candles at night. It's kind of classy, in a brightly lit kind of way. They've also very nice at King Size and don't charge much and I wish them well. They also make great crepes. But they never seem to have much business. Maybe this will change that.
Try one out. Spread the word. If you know of any other places that sell them, please post.

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