NEW YORK – For those in the know, Greek restaurants in New York have been “having a moment” for quite a long time. It is nice to see other media outlets “discovering” Greek restaurants from time to time, if only to remind the Greek community to appreciate even more the talented chefs and fantastic cuisine we often take for granted. Forbes recently published the article “6 Greek Dining Destinations in New York City” highlighting just a few of the top restaurants in the city. They placed Yefsi Estiatorio, 1481 York Avenue (at 78th Street) in Manhattan, at number one, followed by Anemos Estiatorio, 41-15 34th Avenue in Astoria at number two; and Under The Bridge, 1079 1st Avenue; Rodos, 37 West 24th Street; Fournos Theophilos, 45 W 45th Street; and Korali Estiatorio, 1662 3rd Avenue, all in Manhattan, rounding out the top six.
Yefsi’s chef and owner Christos Christou began at Molyvos, then was the executive chef at Milos before he ran the kitchen at Avra. The charming Yefsi serves homestyle dishes Christou grew up with in his native Cyprus. Among the classic dishes on the menu are zucchini croquettes, grilled sausage with black-eyed peas, and lamb souvlaki as well as delicious seafood options. The wine list includes many Greek wines to enjoy. For reservations by phone: 212-535-0293.
Forbes also spoke with Christou about his homeland and the best souvenir travelers can bring home from Greece. Christou told Forbes, “When I was growing up there, my parents were farmers, and we made all our own cheese, vegetables, raised our own animals, and my grandma owned a taverna. The island has amazing beaches, and while there are plenty of upscale restaurants, the best food you can get is at the local tavernas. The owners cook for you themselves and only have fish which was caught that morning.”
When asked what travelers should bring back from their vacation in Greece, Christou told Forbes, “Ouzo, that’s what I always bring back.”
Christou also runs the kitchen at Anemos Estiatorio in Astoria, Forbes reported, noting the seafood specialties on the menu, including plaki, and “whole fish, such as black bass from Montauk and red snapper from Florida, is exceptional.” As if another reason was needed to visit Anemos, live Greek music entertains on Saturday and Sunday nights. Phone: 718-255-6111.
Aptly named for its location beneath the 59th Street/Queensboro Bridge, Under The Bridge features the home-style cuisine you would expect from a Greek taverna and a “by the glass” wine list with many Greek wines to choose from, Forbes reported. Phone: 212-583-0695.
Rodos, opened in January by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and Yiannis Chatiris, Eleni Vareli, and the new consulting division of Lagasse's company We Love Food Hospitality, “features traditional Greek favorites like grilled branzino and Greek salad, diners will also find choices that Emeril is more known for like duck wings and New Orleans barbecue shrimp,” Forbes reported. Phone: 212-989-8811 and 917-250-4613.
Fournos Theophilos features affordable, tasty, classic Greek pies including favorites like cheese and spinach pies, as well as Greek lunch bowls, salads, and desserts, making it a favorite spot for lunch in the area. Chefs and native Athenians Dionisis Liakopoulos and Yannis Tsiakos created the menu. Named for the artist who painted the bakery scene which appears on the restaurant wall, Fournos Theophilos offers a taste of Greece in Midtown Manhattan. Phone: 212-278-0015.
“While seafood is a staple of the Greek diet, Korali takes it to the next level by taking sourcing crustaceans directly from Greece several times a week,” Forbes reported, adding that the restaurant’s “Greek island feel,” makes it seem “like taking a mini vacation.” Besides its wonderful seafood, Korali also offers vegan and gluten free items on the menu and many Greek wines on its list. Phone: 646-964-5470.