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Yelp Elite Events: Tufino Pizzeria & Spa Castle

Last week, I attended two Yelp Queens Elite events. The first one was at Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana, where I thought we would only be served pizza and that I would get bored with the food. Oh, how wrong I was! The other event was at Spa Castle and it was already full with a few hundred person waiting list so I had pretty much resigned myself from ever getting to go. Luckily, Jando (the Yelp Queens Community Manager – get to know him, he’s awesome!) let me in and I had such an amazing, relaxing evening and you can read all about it below!

Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana is a small, but cute and cozy spot with great atmosphere in the heart of Astoria. I loved the huge windows that lead to the street. It gave the place nice lighting and feel.

tufino_meThe restaurant started us off with several amazing appetizers. First there were mini meatball sliders (one of my favorites) with grated parmesan cheese and basil on a brioche bun. The meat was warm, flavorful, juicy and the basil added to the already delicious sliders.

tufino_sliderThen there were mini capellini cakes with vodka sauce that was fried to perfection and extremely crispy. They tasted a little bit like potato. We also had fresh mozzarella, tomato and bread crumb on skewers, which were light and refreshing. Next came the warm farro (a type of grain) salad with wonderfully tasting pesto sauce. After that was another favorite of mine: Zucchini fries. They were hot and fresh out of the oven, with well seasoned breading and a light dusting of parmesan sauce.

tufino_zucchiniSoon after all those appetizers, the thin crust pizza started coming out. I tried most of the different types of pizza, starting with the Margherita, which was made out of organic tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and basil. This was quite good but I preferred the other types of pizza that had toppings on them.

tufino_margheritaProsciutto e Arugula came with mozzarella, prosciutto, lemon juice and truffle oil with baby arugula and parmesan shavings on top. This was wonderful, with delightful tasting meat and all the other flavors came together nicely.

tufino_argula pizzaI also had the San Gennaro, which consists of mozzarella, Italian sausage, peppers, onions and parmesan. The sausage was savory and zesty.

tufino_sausage pizzaMy favorite pizza of the night, however, was Grape Expectations, which had red grapes, gorgonzola, Italian pork (which tasted like bacon) and house made honey. The grapes on the pizza was unique and unexpected, but worked really well and combined flawlessly with the gorgonzola, meat and honey. It was a mix of sweet and slightly savory, and completely mouthwateringly delicious!

tufino_grape pizzaThe service was great, though I would have liked some options for non alcoholic drinks, besides water. But the servers were really patient, friendly and allowed time for some of the Yelpers to take photos of the food, then making sure we all got what we wanted.

Then there was Spa Castle Night, which totally came at the perfect time because I needed to get my mind off of things and just totally chill & relax: CHILLAX!

It was my first time at Spa Castle and what a wonderful elite experience I had! We were given watch keys which were ingenious… They connected to our very own locker and were also scanned when we bought anything- We were allowed 2 free drinks. They also gave us uniforms to wear around the spa and a small towel. I would have liked a bigger towel, because I was in and out of the pools throughout the night.

First, I met some really awesome folks and we checked out the outdoor pools, which had a spraying area and also different massage water jets etc. There was also a nice bubbling jacuzzi. Then we checked out one of the pools inside which was right by the bar and had stools set up along side it. I don’t drink so I asked if the free drinks included any non alcoholic drinks. At first they said no, but then allowed me to order soda so that was really nice.

spacastle_meShortly after that, we headed to the upper floor to get some food. There was a lot of fried food which was tasty: Mozzarella sticks, chicken strips, french fries, fried chicken, shrimp tempura. The shrimp tempura and fried chicken were my favorites. Also salad and delicious fruits: Mango – extremely fresh and sweet; pineapple – sweet and juicy; grapes – wonderful and sweet. It was nice to have that since the fried food was so heavy.

spacastle_foodAfter that we headed back to the outdoor pool area and tried out one of the body massage areas which was AMAZING! It was great to feel the water jets on my back, legs etc. We also enjoyed the foot massage pool and our 2nd drink.

spacastle_poolThen I headed to Sauna Valley and I really liked the whole set up of it. There was a bridge, water flowing, and different colored lights flashing peacefully.

spacastle_saunasI got some friends to join me in trying out all the saunas. We started with the hottest ones first and my favorite was the Gold Sauna. It was a nice temperature, not too scorching and there was a bench to sit on. The most aesthetically pleasing was Jade Sauna which was a dome with gorgeous colors and stones, but at 180 degrees it was a little too warm for me.

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I also laid down in the infrared zone for a little bit. It was okay. I didn’t feel much of a difference after. I just laid out on the long chairs after and then headed back to the locker room. There was a nice area with a massage chair and comfy blue couches just for the girls there.

The one complaint I had about Spa Castle is that it was confusing to navigate and I didn’t even see/know about some of the amenities, such as the Ice Land, which would have probably been my favorite room of all since I LOVE ice! Thankfully, we received a free certificate for another visit, so I will definitely check it out when I come back.

Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana
36-08 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY

Spa Castle
131-10 11th Ave
College Point, NY

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Atlantic City Weekend

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I spent a luxurious, pampered weekend at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City with a good friend of mine. We checked into our lovely room on Friday afternoon and then headed to the spa, complete with a lounging area; soft-lit mirrors with primping necessities; jacuzzi; steam room and showers. We enjoyed the trail mix, fruit and juices that were provided for our pleasure.

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Afterwards, we headed to dinner at Rainforest Cafe. The wait was around 45 minutes, but we enjoyed the time looking around the store. We were surrounded by a forest-like atmosphere with trees, leaves, monkeys, huge butterflies, elephants, exotic parrots (all not real, of course).

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After we were finally seated, I ordered a fruity smoothie with orange sherbet and decided on Parmesan-crusted tilapia with lump crab meat and alfredo pasta with cream sauce as my main. It was delicious- The tilapia was perfect: Light and flaky, and the added flavor of the Parmesan was a cheesy delight. The pasta was al dente, with thick creamy white sauce that was well seasoned. And the crab was wonderfully tasty… It added to the decadence of the meal.

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Eating at Rainforest was a very cool experience as well. Every 20 minutes or so, there would be a simulated lightning rainstorm – The lights would dim, thunder would crash, lightning would flash, which added to the fun of being there.

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After our lovely meal, we got to see this ultra awesome colorful 3Dish light/music show on the building nearby. It showed different themes, from crumbling building, technology, floating shapes, to psychedelic colors and patterns.

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Then, we went to the shops at Caesars to check out the Water Show at the water fountain. The bright pink, purple, blue, orange meshing of colors, the water spurting up in differing heights and intermittent streams of water flowing down, the accompanying music, the smoky atmosphere, all combined to make an awe-inspiring visual experience.

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Saturday we spent the morning at the beach, splashing around in the waves. The water was a bit chilly, but we got used to it pretty quickly.

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After spending some time in the water and under the sun at the beach, we stopped by the Trump Plaza pool, which was wonderful. Large open space, high ceilings, palm trees, beach lounge chairs, slanted glass windows, and outer rooftop decks that overlook the the ocean, beach bar and Caesar’s.

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We took one of the push cars to The Chelsea to have lunch at a cute diner called Teplitzky’s. I had a roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayo and crispy onions, complete with garlic fries. The roast beef went really well with the crispy onions and the garlic fries were delightfully thin, crispy and delicious.

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After lunch we walked along the boardwalk, stopping by a couple of places along the way, such as Steel’s Fudge, where I purchased some chocolate marshmallow fudge. When back at Trump Plaza, we spent some time at the casino and tried our hand at the slot machines. We had each received $25 voucher to use on the slots, so that we used that up. I ended up winning $25, which isn’t bad considering I spent nothing to begin with!

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We had some time to relax after the casino, and got dolled up for dinner at Back in the Day Buffet inside Trump Plaza. The food was just okay. I think the chicken, mashed potatoes, turkey and salad were probably the best. However, dessert was delectable. I had bread pudding with thick, sweet, creamy vanilla sauce; rich and wonderful chocolate cake and a chocolate chip blondie brownie.

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After dinner we headed to the theater in Trump Plaza to see Beatlemania! We had really good seats, near the front. These guys gave us a fabulous evening of nostalgia for Beatles lovers, or even those (like us) who aren’t the biggest fans, but have an appreciation for the band. Even though I didn’t know a lot of the songs by heart, I found myself singing along to the more popular tunes. Almost every song was catchy and fun loving. Film of 60’s era events, commercials, shows were being displayed in the background, and there were cool lighting effects on the stage. The costumes were spot on and the band played their parts well… Down to the British accents, wigs and facial hair. They sounded great together and the main singer in particular had a gorgeous melodious voice. I really enjoyed the last couple songs when they got everyone standing and dancing along.

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Here is a set list of the Bealtemania show:

The Ed Sullivan Show (Saw Her Standing There, Eight Days a Week, Yesterday, etc)
Sgt. Pepper’s (Intro/A Little Help from Your Friends, A Day in the Life, Imagine, Here Comes the Sun, etc)
Magical Mystery Tour (All You Need is Love, Strawberry Fields, I am the Walrus, Penny Lane, etc)
Apple Studios Roof (Get Back, Come Together, Let it Be, Hey Jude, etc.) and Twist and Shout

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Sunday, our last day in Atlantic City, we spent at the beach and having a delicious and hearty breakfast outdoors at a Trump Plaza restaurant, EVO (Western Omelet – bacon, onion, green peppers and cheese, with potatoes and rye toast).

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