Joe DiStefano, the food writer and tour guide widely known as the “Culinary King of Queens,” is teaming up with Innovation QNS to launch Astoria Eats (, a new virtual food hall that will bring the diverse tastes of Astoria to nearby residents.

Astoria Eats Powered by Innovation QNS will connect Western Queens with a selection of restaurants curated by DiStefano, author of the book “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss” and the popular food blog “Chopsticks+Marrow.” Astoria Eats will replicate the traditional food hall experience of sampling different menu items from multiple eateries all on a single online platform, beginning with a first slate of featured restaurants:

  • Astoria Bier & Cheese (Cheese, charcuterie)
  • Boishakhi (Bangladeshi)
  • Duzan (Middle Eastern)
  • Mar’s (Gastropub)
  • Ornella (Italian)
  • Tacuba (Mexican)
  • Zenon Taverna (Greek)

Additional restaurants already are signed up and will be unveiled in the weeks ahead. As part of a broader vision to create a vibrant, mixed-use, creative district in Astoria, Innovation QNS plans to open a bricks-and-mortar Astoria Eats food hall in the future.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve been falling in love with the richly diverse food culture of ‘The World’s Borough,’” says DiStefano. “As a partner in Innovation QNS, I’m so excited to help bring Astoria Eats to life. From fresh Greek seafood and classic NYC pizza to Nigerian yassa and Thai boat noodle soup, in-the-know Queens residents now will be able to enjoy the very best restaurants Astoria has to offer while supporting these small businesses that are the backbone of our community.”

Beyond providing hungry Queens residents with a unique dining experience, Astoria Eats Powered by Innovation QNS will help support local restaurants, which have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19. Innovation QNS will support the virtual food hall – offering participating restaurants an alternative to expensive third-party delivery platforms that take for themselves almost a third of order revenues – and will promote the restaurants through press coverage, advertising, social media and other marketing efforts.

“Astoria is one the most diverse and well-rounded restaurant scenes that New York City has to offer, and that’s saying a lot,” says Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “Enormous respect and congratulations to Joe and Innovation QNS for bringing Astoria Eats to life and providing critical support to restaurants that have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In addition to curating Astoria Eats virtual food hall, DiStefano also will advise on the mix of restaurants that will be part of the new Innovation QNS district (including a brick-and-mortar Astoria Eats food hall) proposed for a five-block stretch along 35th Avenue adjacent to Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Kaufman Arts District.

“Joe DiStefano knows the Queens food scene better than anyone else. He’s a Queens guy, and his ‘locals only’ insights are so important,” says Tracy Capune, vice president of Kaufman Astoria Studios. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Joe as a partner in Innovation QNS, beginning with Astoria Eats.”

Astoria Eats lives on a platform created by Bbot, an Astoria-based startup founded in 2017. The decision to tap Bbot is part of a commitment by Innovation QNS to support existing neighborhood small businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly in the creative and innovation industries.

Industry News, NextGen Casual