Greek Food seems to be everywhere now. Trendy and delicious, it’s also good for you. Aside from the usual spinach pies and gryos, there are many other excellent dishes to sample. From traditional to contemporary these restaurants will transport you to villas and sea side paradises. Here are ten restaurants in New York and New Jersey bringing traditional Greek food to America.
Kefi is an authentic Greek taverna featuring stucco walls, weathered beams and wicker seats, transporting you to some Grecian hideaway. Chef Michael Psilakis, known for his Food Network appearances, has created a menu reminiscent of his childhood with dishes like Baccala (Crispy Cod, Garlic Potatoes, Tomato), Grilled Octopus, Hilopita (Greek Pasta dishes) and Tsoutsoukakia (Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce). Along with co-owner Donatella Arpaia, this powerhouse duo has created a wonderful, affordable and delicious Greek restaurant.
Kefi: 505 Columbus Ave, New York, NY, USA (212.873.0200)
On the opposite side of the rustic spectrum, Thalassa offers Greek dining in a chic and romantic environment. Able to accommodate 50 to 200 people, this Tribeca restaurant also offers an extensive wine cellar and was awarded three stars by Forbes, among other awards. Their dinner menu is inventive and fresh, with traditional fare like Spanakopita and more modern dishes like Mediterranean fish tacos. Have a look at their fresh fish market menu, with selections like King Langoustines, Black Sea Bass, and Kumamoto oysters.
Thalassa: 179 Franklin Street, New York, NY, USA (212.941.7661)
3. The Greek
Dubbed a “gastrotaverna”, The Greek offers rustic dinning in a pub setting with a big bar and diverse drink selection. Proudly cooking with all-natural and organic ingredients, The Greek offers delicious entree selections. From the sea, try the seared scallops with parsnip puree, pomegranate arils and crispy sausage. From the land, go for the double cut rosemary lamb chops with braised vegetables and feta. Typical of Mediterranean fare, there are also many vegetarian options.
The Greek: 458 Greenwich Street, New York, NY, USA (646.476.3941)
4. Axia Taverna
Across the Hudson via the GWB in a New Jersey town called Tenafly, you’ll find Axia Taverna, a Greek restaurant that has caught the attention of NJ foodies. Sleek and modern, but traditional in its menu, your dinner has the option to be a four course meal, or a selection of tapas style dishes. Try the Arni Pikantiko for some spice; seared spicy lamb tenderloin, roasted tomato compote and olive puree. For something fresh, the steamed mussels with ouzo and tomato broth is just the thing, called Mydia Achnista in Greek.
Axia Taverna: 18 Piermont Road, Tenafly, NJ, USA (201.569.5999)
Named after a seaside village on the Greek isles of Lesvos, Molyvos brings a sort of soulfulness to Greek cuisine. It’s the kind of food where every bite makes your mouth water from the bright flavors. As an appetizer they offer a selection of traditional spreads, like Caviar Mousse, Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Dip, and Roasted Pepper Feta Cheese. The star of the menu is the traditional Greek dessert, Baklava. Crushed walnuts and pistachios wrapped in phyllo and drenched in spiced honey syrup, these bites of heaven are addicting.
Molyvos: 871 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY, USA (212.582.7500)
Few people understand the importance of sustainability, but Amali does. With an emphasis on vegetables, olive oil, cheese, grains, and fish, they value tradition in the food they buy. The Brunch menu is especially eye-catching, with drink options like saffron tea or hot chocolate with yogurt whipped cream. For an entree, try the Spicy Chickpea Tagine with tomato, chili, yogurt and dukkah or the Shakshuka made from baked eggs, tomato, chillies, grilled pita and feta.
Amali: 115 60th St. New York, NY, USA (212.339.8363)
Cozy, warm and inviting, Avra transports you to a Greek Villa with its romantic atmosphere. From it’s open kitchen you can see the display of fresh fish on ice, telling you that the good is as fresh as could be. The outdoor patio is beautiful at night, perfect for a romantic evening. The menu is authentic and mouth watering, full of fish, cheese, spreads and more.
Avra: 141 East 48th St. New York, NY, USA (212.759.8550)
Periyali is the first Greek restaurant to open in New York City. They opened their doors in 1987 in response to regulars at their other Tuscan restaurant asking for high-quality Greek cuisine. Since then, they have created an iconic atmosphere and cuisines. Named after the romantic Greek word meaning meaning “seashore”, they offer a large selection of small appetizers that vary seasonally and are aways fresh. You cannot go to Periyali without trying their famous char-grilled and marinated octopus; it is the best around.
Periyali: 35 West 20th Street, New York, NY, USA (212.463.7890)
Nerai takes a contemporary twist on Greek food, while keeping with the tradition of hospitality and nostalgia of “Grandma’s cooking”. One of their most interesting and delicious creations is the Duck Baklava, served as an appetizer. Tender duck inside philo with sour cherry and foie gras jus drizzled on top, it is surprisingly addictive. Equally as addictive is the Lavender Mousse for dessert; light and sweet yet herbaceous and topped with minced pineapple.
Nerai: 55 East 54th St, New York NY, USA (212-759-5554)
10. Elia Restaurant
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn has a lot of fine dining choices, and Elia Restaurant is one of them. If you don’t want to head into Manhattan, head over here for some interesting flavors and twists on Greek food. As an appetizer, the Paidakia Herina is a great choice; BBQ style pork ribs marinated in ouzo with Greek spices and quince marmalade, pickled red onions, and baked gigandes. And for dessert, nothing is so simple and delicious as greek yogurt with attiki honey and walnuts.
Elia Restaurant: 3rd Ave Brooklyn, NY, USA (718.748.9891)