JUNE 1, 2018
Memories! Flash back to the World War II years (1941 – 45) that spanned my 7-11 age years. The location was just north of Hell’s Kitchen, presently home to Lincoln Center. One of the key memories during that period of time that has yet to leave me was dining out on Sundays approximately once a month. It was the Greek restaurant, The Acropolis, located on 60th Street, just west of Central Park. I wish it were still around. I can still taste the roast lamb and pastitsio, your author’s two favorite Greek dishes. Enough on the old days. On to this, the 3rd Edition of Great Eats.
First, there was Great Eats I. Then there was Great Eats II: Italian Restaurants (April 2017). Well, what would follow? Naturally, Great Eats III: Greek Restaurants. Most of you know that I was not only born and raised (early years) by Greek immigrant parents in Hell’s Kitchen but also spent my formative years prior to marriage in Astoria, a colony of Greece located in Queens (I have such fond memories of Astoria; I was extremely fortunate to spend 15 years living there). So, if one wants to discuss Greek food, a review of Greek restaurants in Astoria would be absolutely appropriate. Therefore, there will be two parts to this restaurant review for this GREAT EATS article: restaurants in Astoria and North Hempstead/Nassau County.
Some have referred to Astoria as a suburb of Athens and for good reason: the restaurants. My favorite is the Neptune Diner, unquestionably the best diner in New York City. But there are many other good restaurants. Here is a sampling of those to consider when in Astoria, Queens.
- Elias’ Corner: A favorite seafood place. Upscale, great seafood, easy parking, and reasonable service. A bit pricey. I wasn’t impressed, but others love the joint.
- MP Taverna: Very high reviews in the press. Upscale. Excellent food. Fair service. Near impossible to park. My people loved the place, but I’m passing.
- Neptune Diner: It was my favorite 65 years ago and it’s still my favorite. Expansive menu. Great food. Big portions. Very reasonable prices. Comfortable. No problem parking. The avgolemeno soup and chicken lemonado is the absolute best, anywhere.
- Stamatis: One of my favorites. Reasonable prices. Excellent food. Loud. Lousy service. Valet parking. I love everything on the menu. You can’t go wrong here.
- Taverna Kyclades: The seafood is great and is very reasonably priced. Comfortable but tables are jammed together. The problem with the place is that there are ALWAYS long waits and it is near impossible to park.
- Telly’s: Similar to Stamatis. A bit more expensive. Not for me.
You also need to visit one of a host of pastry shops. Baklava is the favorite pastry. But my friends and family prefer the galakobouriko – try it, you won’t be disappointed.
NORTH HEMPSTEAD/NASSAU COUNTY
Bad news! I’ve yet to eat at a Greek restaurant in our area that compares to those in Astoria. My spies tell me that Limani and Kyma (both in Roslyn) are excellent. Both are for those who enjoy getting ripped off since they are hellaciously expensive. I suggest passing but some have recommended lunch. I found Limani a beautiful restaurant –with lousy service, reasonable, but only with their early-bird specials ($40). In any event, here are my comments on six Greek (not Mediterranean) restaurants (in alphabetical order) in our local area.
- Greek Corner, Carle Place: Very reasonably priced. Some special deals. Comfortable seating. Ample parking. Food is average at best. Pass.
- Gyrolicious, Jericho: Not for me.
- Opa Grille, Williston Park: Opa can be loosely interpreted as “hail”. One of the better ones. Ample parking. Comfortable seating. A bit pricey with small portions but the food is above average. One of my family’s favorites, but not for me.
- Platia Greek Station, Syosset: A relative newcomer. As with most new arrivals, the prices are unreasonable. Ample parking. Comfortable seating. Although the food is above average, I’ll pass.
- Santorini Greek Restaurant, Merrick: Named after the island. My favorite for this area. I’ve sent numerous friends there and no one has yet to complain. Ample parking. Comfortable seating. The salad (with dinner) is great. My favorite is the half-chicken with the lemon potatoes. My wife loves the seafood house favorite.
- Yasoo Yeeros, Plainview: Yasoo can be loosely interpreted as “greetings”. Ample parking. Comfortable seating. Price is reasonable and so is the food.
There are dozens of others including Grecian Grille (Farmingdale), Greek Place (New Hyde Park), Greek Tavern (Rockville Centre), Mykonos Taverna (Manhasset), Souvlaki Stop (Mineola), etc., etc.
The above list would not be complete without the addition of other special/unique places to enjoy Greek food. For diners, my favorite is the Old Westbury Diner (Westbury), owned and operated by the Dimas family; the Apollo Diner in Merrick is also one of the better ones. Greek festivals include St Paul’s (Garden City Park) in early summer and the Port Washington Harborside in early fall. The food was once great but the quality and price have gone awry and in wrong directions. Pass on Harborside because of the parking and traffic control. Of the supermarket foods, I recommend North Shore Farms, Mineola; their pastitsio is the absolute best. Finally, Harry’s Hilltop Deli (in Williston Park) offers some excellent dishes.
The best Greek restaurant? It may be in Tarpon Springs, Florida, a community overrun with Greeks and Greek-Americans. Pappas, was the most famous of all restaurants in earlier days. Today, it is Mykonos, a hole-in-the-wall semi-diner, named after an island located off mainland Greece. It is a restaurant that two “Greeks,” along with your author, regularly visit. The other two Greeks? Tex Zoucourides, (I was his best man and our daughter, Molleen’s, Godfather) a retired baseball umpire and teamster rep, and Ernie Haridopolos, a retired superhero (legitimately) from the presently disgraced FBI. Dinner there is one of the highlights during each of my trips to the West Coast of Florida. My recommendations, if you are lucky to stop by, include: (1) the combination platter, (2) lamb chops, and (3) lamb sevetsky.
P.S. I also need to comment on three additional stops.
- I highly recommend two Portuguese restaurants: Heart of Portugal, Mineola, and Lisbon Café, Carle Place. Both got high marks.
- Try Mr. Chen’s Chinese Restaurant, Carle Place– a local gem – for excellent food and very reasonable prices … but slow service.
- I’ve been at the Swing the Teapot restaurant in Floral Park three times. The food is excellent and very reasonably priced; the service is also excellent. Try to stop by when the group Hell and High Water are entertaining (perhaps next fall). You’ll love them and the place.
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JULY 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVI
AUGUST 1: On the New York Racing Association III
OCTOBER 1: On “Basketball Coaching 101” II
NOVEMBER 1: On the OHI Day III
DECEMBER 1: On the 2018-19 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Team
JANUARY 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVII