Les Dames D’Escoffier Cleveland Chapter at Astoria Café and Market

By Elaine T. Cicora
Photos by Elaine T. Cicora

More than a dozen members of our chapter met at Astoria Café and Market in the Gordon Square Arts District on April 4, 2017, for our bi-monthly business meeting, a delicious buffet dinner, and a tour of the family owned and operated business.

Our host and guide was Lee Daniels, son of co-owner Steve Daniels and nephew of co-owner George Kantzios. Together, Steve and George also operate Agora Foods International, a wholesale import business, founded in 2008. The partners relocated Agora from Ohio City to Detroit Avenue in 2014, after completing extensive remodeling on the new space. While Agora is only nine years old, the family has been part of Cleveland’s food and specialty foods industry for over 65 years and imports directly from Greece, Italy, France, and other regions throughout the Mediterranean. Agora supplies its imported foods to accounts as nearby as Heinen’s and as far away as Salt Lake City, Lee told us.

Astoria, the restaurant and retail arm of the family operation, opened in the same building in December 2016. A bright, airy and beautifully renovated space, Astoria occupies about 5,000 square feet of the 24,000-square-foot building, and includes a 60-seat café, full bar, market and deli, with an emphasis on Mediterranean foods. A paved 60-car parking lot opened around the corner, on West 55th Street, in January.

As the third generation to work in the family business, which includes ties to Euro USA and Mediterranean Imports at the West Side Market, Lee proved to be both a knowledgeable guide and a gracious host. Following a wonderful buffet dinner that included such standouts as chickpea soup, pita and hummus, two styles of spanakopita, three types of thin-crusted pizza (margherita, prosciutto and arugula, and mushroom and artichoke), and a bountiful selection of fine imported cheeses and charcuterie, Lee led our group through the wholesale warehouse and its coolers, where we ooh-ed and ahh-ed over a grand collection of cheeses, meats, olives, phyllo dough, olive oils, roasted vegetables, grains, pastas and other imported food products.

Many of the imported products are available for purchase in the deli, where we found a remarkable assortment of aged, brined, bloomy rind, blue, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard and surfaced ripened cheeses. The meat counter also impressed with its abundance of products: linguica, jamon serrano, chorizo, Italian dried salume, and bresaola made from Wagyu beef, among them. And to drink, an entire wall’s worth of wine is at the ready.

By evening’s end, many of us had not only learned more about our city’s vibrant food industry, but had added a new place to our “must shop” and “must eat” lists. Thank you to Lee, Steve, George and everyone at Astoria Market and Café, for hosting such an informative and enjoyable evening.
The deli case is full of temptations
at Astoria Cafe and Market

Astoria partner and host George Kantzios

Artisanal pizzas starred on the dinner buffet

A selection of imported salume
sourced from the Market deli