by Aria Socratous.
Greek cuisine in New York City is more than a trend, it’s a matter of philosophy of the Mediterranean diet and a way of healthy living. The following Greek restaurants have become the talk of the town in the cosmopolitan area of Manhattan.
Avra Madison Restaurant
In Greek mythology Avra is the Goddess of the breezes and thus Avra Madison aptly named. The Greek cuisine and restaurant’s inspired decor will invoke warm Mediterranean nights cooled by Avra’s gentle sea breezes. Avra Madison is an authentic bi-level Greek restaurant located just steps from central park which offers traditional Greek cuisine with emphasis on succulent seafood dishes.
“I think what makes the restaurant unique are the products we use, always fresh and very expensive. People will always pay for quality because quality makes the difference. The restaurant is always very busy, so none of the ingredients is old and sitting around. The classic dishes are the Avra chips which are the traditional crispy zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki. Even though is fried, it’s very light, it’s a classic dish and the way we execute it, is unique. I really like some of the plain grilled fish. Sometimes people expect overdone food and this is the beauty of this concept, the beauty of the Greek food. For example, fagkri, which is a Mediterranean snapper, grilled with light seasoned sea salt and olive oil. It’s something that I really enjoy. The Greek salad is also a dish that the clients are asking for. It’s a very simple dish, but very tasty. We use great tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and Greek olive oil”, Avra Madison’s accredited and renowned Executive Chef Ralph Scamardella contends.
Molyvos restaurant: A 20 year journey to Greek rustic flavors
Molyvos has established itself as a destination restaurant in Manhattan, and has built a loyal following building its reputation as one of the most renowned Greek restaurants in New York City. Nestled in Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood, just a block away from Carnegie Hall, Molyvos was a pioneer when it first opened, 20 years ago, bringing rustic Greek cuisine to a new level of elegance and sophistication amid décor inspired by Greece’s romantic seaside villages. Its name was inspired by the seaside village on the Greek island of Lesvos where the Livanos family roots originate.
Molyvos is known throughout Manhattan for its rustic Greek country cooking. Executive Chef Carlos Carreto takes diners on a Grecian culinary journey through a variety of mezedes and appetizers, as well as hyper-local specialty Greek cheese and honey, fresh fish, wild greens and savory pies – all accompanied by the largest all-Greek wine list in the U.S.
The list counts five hundred and fifty Greek wines! It features the most extensive selection of Greek wines available in the United States, boasting an award-winning wine list comprised of more than 500 labels that represent over 50 wineries in Greece. Its comprehensive wine list encourages diners to experiment, including 50 wines by the glass that change regularly and focus on unknown regions in Greece
The restaurant also features 14 different varieties of Greece’s national aperitif, Ouzo, in addition to the wine list, as well as a wide selection of beers from Greece and around the Mediterranean. Between refreshing Ouzo-based cocktails, like the Lesvos Lemonada, and wines only found in Molyvos’ beverage program gives diners an experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.
Ousia: An urban oasis with homey ambience
“Ousia” meaning “essence” or “flavor,” is a unique and welcome addition to the NYC dining scene, a Greek restaurant with lively ambience and a very vivid energy. The eclectic blend is an interesting mix of very modern and homey sophisticated ambience, which creates a warm, uniquely interesting and welcoming vibe. Conveniently located on the waterfront, just off the West Side Highway, Ousia is an urban oasis where friends and family can gather over shared plates, craft beer, and signature cocktails to start or end the night.
“We explored the option and we decided to take the opportunity to open a new restaurant in a new exciting neighborhood. After we found the location we explored what kind of cuisine we wanted and we reached to the conclusion that Greek food has always a special place in our lives and in our heart. We wanted a restaurant to offer Greek cuisine and also a neighborhood restaurant. Greek food is a comfort food, so we wanted to create a very warm and casual environment” states Johnny Livanos, Ousia’s owner.
Johnny Livanos’ family owns Molyvos restaurant, one of the most famous and renowned Greek restaurants in New York City known throughout Manhattan for its rustic Greek country cooking but Johnny never worked in the family business.
The Greek: The irresistible charm of Greek mainland in NYC
The Greek Tribeca has quickly established itself as a destination restaurant in Manhattan, and has built a loyal following among it neighbors. The landmark building and surroundings inspired a connection to the Mediterranean villas of the Greek Peloponessos.
The materials, textures, and colors inspired by the medieval castle at Monemvasia (the Gibraltar of Greece) blend seamlessly into the cobblestone streets and warehouse lofts of ultra-chic Tribeca. “The Greek” is a very cozy and upscale ouzerie tucked away on the West side of the Tribeca, giving it a feel of seclusion and intimacy. The atmosphere you feel right when you enter the place is the atmosphere of the cozy den of Greek hospitality. The rustic and comforting interior receives constant praise from customers.
“The Greek” is a great challenge for me. I wanted to have an experience with all the senses from the way we decorated to the way we did the lighting. Our goal was to create a very cozy and comfortable atmosphere and this is what we achieved after all. We consulted on every detail of the restaurant to create an immersive experience, from a rustic salvaged trellis over the tables to commissioned artwork on the walls, to the menus, silverware,glassware, and the plating of the food. The bar features a hammered copper surface, the room is divided by an elegant taffeta drapery, and buttery tufted leather covers the banquettes. The space has the elegance of a fine dining restaurant, with the comfort of a living room where customers might kick off their shoes. We are constantly involved in the maintenance of the interior, detailing for each season and decorating for holidays and event ”, says Tom Galis, the owner of “The Greek”.
The menu is based on Tom’s mother and grandmother’s cooking and their main focus is on the use of fresh and good quality ingredients, directly imported from Greece. Tom knew exactly what dishes he was going to feature and what quality of ingredients he was going to use, so he designed the first draft of the menu himself.