Milkflower Pizza Captures the Diversity of Astoria
By Robert Intelisano
There are few neighborhoods in New York City that can match the diverse “food scene” in Astoria, Queens.
When you think of Astoria, great Greek food comes to mind as well as Italian, Brazilian, Asian and excellent seafood restaurants.
When I agreed to write “A SLICE of Queens,” I wanted to make it fun and informative.
I knew I would meet new people and have new and interesting experiences. My plan is to invite different people to each pizzeria every month. My goal is to get the word out that Queens can and will compete on the pizza scene both locally and nationally. You have no idea how good Queens pizza is, until now!
Milkflower has a trendy Greenwich Village type feel to it when you walk in if you didn’t walk right past it. It is nestled on 31st avenue in between 34th and 35th streets in Astoria, a nine-minute walk from the Steinway Street and Broadway Train Station’s southwest exit. There is no Milkflower sign (I love this) only a worn wood-fired pizza sign, see the picture.
Zagat rated Milkflower 25 out of 30 and describes it as “Funky Neapolitan-style pies with a slight chew and fun starters. A carefully curated beer selection (I had the Narragansett Lager) keeps energetic crowds coming to this Astoria pizzeria.”
Foursquare also ranked Milkflower the No. 1 pizza place in Queens, so I was excited to try it. Milkflower is the English translation from the Italian “Fior di Latte,” which is an Italian cheese slightly softer than mozzarella!
I couldn’t wait until 2022, so I met my friend Adrian Miller, the founder of Adrian’s Network, at Milkflower for a Tuesday lunch in November. We shared the roasted beets, a salad and “The Queen” pie named after Queen Margherita. I call this the SAT of pizzerias. The only way to compare pizzerias is to try the same style of pie at each place.
This was a great warm-up for my second Milkflower lunch visit in late January. My plan was to invite 6 people and we would try 6 personal pies. Due to COVID-19 and sketchy weather, it wound up to be the three of us, which was perfect because all three of us are serious “foodies!”
I arrived early and was greeted by Zach. I handed him the November issue of This is Queens Borough Magazine (TIQ) and showed him the column I wrote on “Business Tips from Mick Jagger.” I told him I was now writing a magazine review on Milkflower for the March Madness edition of “A Slice of Queens” pizza. He said he was familiar with the magazine and seated me.
We ordered roasted meatballs and the wood-fired octopus for starters. I was joined by Scott Bloom of Bloom Real Estate Group, LLC, and Ingrid Schwartz of Nest Abstract Title company in Manhattan.
The meatballs were light, airy and very good. I couldn’t believe how good the octopus was, “to die for” as Ingrid put it!
The first pie we ordered was the “Willy Mo!” This six-small-slice personal pie has tomato, garlic confit, meatballs, mozzarella, basil, and grana padano. Grana Padano is a cheese originating in the Po River valley in Northern Italy that is similar to Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
Unbeknownst to us, Zach had phoned Pete Aggelatos, the owner and told him about our Queens pizza review column. This is Queens Borough Magazine has clout as Pete told us he left the dentist chair to come and meet with us and talk Milkflower pizza.
The “Willie Mo” pie arrived as soon as Pete did. Being a baseball fan, I asked Pete if the “Willie Mo” pie was named after former Boston Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena. He said it was named after one of his employees.
Pete is an interesting and humble guy. He served in the military and finished his Navy tour in 1999. He waited tables for a while in Northern California then moved to Queens. Pete spent years managing “Avra,” a Greek restaurant on the upper east side.
In June of 2013, Pete and his brother Danny opened Milkflower. Danny had experience making pies at his uncle’s pizzeria in New Jersey for over 10 years where Pete and Danny grew up.
Pete had been living in Astoria for six years and noticed there was no pizza on the block and the rest is history!
As Pete was leaving, our second pie, the “Marky Marc” arrived. This pie consisted of tomato, fontina, speck, fresno chili and green olives. I was wrong again when I asked if it was named after Mark Wahlberg as Zach said it was named after a former employee.
The final pie came out shortly thereafter called “The Wu Tang Clam!”
I didn’t have to ask about the name of this pie as I am a fan of old-school hip hop.
This pie is named after the “Wu Tang Clan,” which is a Staten-Island based 90’s hip hop group. The group was fond of “Kung-Fu movies” and Wu Tang is a sword wielded by invincible warriors.
I don’t know about warriors or swords, however, this was one of the best pies I have ever tried in my life! It is a “flavor explosion,” topped with cherrystone clams, garlic, fresno chili, parsley, and grana padano.
There is a highly rated pizzeria in New Haven, Conn., called Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana that is said to have the best clam pie. Scott had been there and said “the Milkflower Wu Tang Clam pie is better, and it’s not even close!”
It is clear Queens Pizza has arrived! We want to hear from you. Email [email protected] with suggestions of which Queens pizzeria and slice is your favorite right now?