Whenever I think of Greece, I think of cerulean blue seas, white stucco buildings, rocky coasts, mythology, beautiful people with supple olive complexions…and of course, food. Food, food, food – fresh seafood, grilled meats, Feta cheese, grapes, oh my! I have crossed the Whitestone Bridge on many an occasion to eat authentic Greek food in Astoria. However, Westchester has some of the best Greek food I have sampled in my lifetime. To fall in love with Greek cuisine, here are a few of WH’s faves!
LEFTERIS GYRO and LEFTERIS GYRO II. Imagine, not one…but two great locations for authentic Greek fare. You can sample such dishes as the wonderful Skordalia appetizer…a dip made with potato and garlic. The Hummus (a dip made with chick peas, garlic and tahini paste) is divine. Follow those up with entrees such as Gyros, the Greek take on a “sandwich” (thinly sliced meat made from lamb on a warm pita with Tzatziki sauce) or Souvlaki (grilled chicken pieces in a pita with Tzatziki), or for heartier dishes give the Moussaka a shot (reminiscent of Eggplant Parm, but with meat and a beschamel). Not so hungry? Fresh grilled fish is always an option. Locations are at 1 North Broadway in Tarrytown, or at 190 E. Main Street in Mount Kisco. For information, including reservations, visit www.lefterisgyro.com
MYKONOS. Located at 23 Cedar Street, in Dobbs Ferry, at Mykonos (the name of one of the Greek Islands so popular with tourists), you can be transported to a different world. Enjoy traditional Greek comfort dishes such as Pastichio (which is similar to Italian meat lasagne, but with a bechamel sauce), and Lamb Shank with Orzo. For more information or reservations, call the restaurant at (914) 674-0706.
If you head in-county from the Hudson River a bit, you will happen upon NIKO’S GREEK TAVERNA. This fan favorite is at the base of Central Avenue, 287 Central in White Plains, to be exact. It is the first Greek restaurant I ate at in Westchester, and still is hands down one of the best ever. The food is excellent, as is the service, and in the summer you can choose from indoor or outdoor dining. Aside from the usual favorites with a bit of a twist, two must-haves are the Grilled Octopus appetizer, and the Greek Meatballs. Both are simply delicious. For information on the restaurant, including several picture galleries of customers and friends enjoying their time at Niko’s, visit the website at www.nikostaverna.com. They even have an interesting blog!
Feeling like a quick bite? Then swing your way over to the Sound Shore, and drop in at EL GRECO PIZZERIA AND GYRO, located at 8A Memorial Highway, in New Rochelle. You might think the name says it all with this New Ro pizza joint…but not so fast. They are serving up far more than just pizza and Gyros! You can also get wonderful, authentic entrees such as Pastichio and Spanikopita (layers of flaky, buttery filo dough wrapped around an aromatic mixture of spinach and Feta cheese…mmmm). You can view the menu, and plan your dinner by visiting www.elgrecopizzaandgyro.com.
Our favorite little piece of Greece resides in a small shopping center in the region of Westchester known as Chester Heights…where New Rochelle, Eastchester/Bronxville and Mount Vernon converge. ELIA TAVERNA is the relative “new kid on the block” for Greek cuisine, and it is downright heavenly. Upon entering, the decor instantly transfers you to another place, and the waitstaff is as warm and comfy as the food. Greek for olive, Elia greets you with marinated olives at your table, and fantastic aromas all around you. For a real treat, our favorite dish here is the Grilled Haloumi Cheese appetizer. The cheese is firm, and meaty in texture, and has that smoky, grilled flavor that is to-die-for. Follow that up with a plate of grilled shrimp, and the most fantastic, thin-sliced home fried potatoes ever (with a lemon zest!). The beeftekia is awesome (a Greek hamburger…moist, flavorful, with the perfect spice and herb blend)! The chef/owner Mike and the co-owner Rui are always there, and our favorite waiter is Adam. But…you need to save room for the best part – dessert! Order yourself a Frappe (iced Greek coffee drink) and place that order for Loukoumades…the most divine, light and airy fried balls of dough, that are bathed in honey . Amazing!! For more information, call Elia at (914) 663-4976. They are located at 502 New Rochelle Road, Bronxville. And…up until recently, they did not yet have their liquor license, so call ahead to see if you need to BYOB. OPA!