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New Delicious Greek Restaurant in Highland Park!! PITHARI TAVERNA

Hello all! We just came home from dinner at Pithari Taverna!! How fabulous!!! I can't believe so far with these new restaurants we have been trying, they are all on the money! (Marmara to name one)

Anyway, the place is owned by the same people who own the Greek store right next door. It is a BYOB, but the Greek store sells fabulous Greek wine. (If you like Red, try AMETHYSTOS...$ 21.00 for the bottle...at Milos in Manhattan it will cost you $ 80.00 per bottle.)

We both had souvlaki platters. Mine was with the lamb gyro meat and my husbands was the actually lamb cubes. Came with lettuce, red onion, tzataki sauce, pita, tomatoe and greek fries. Mine was $ 9.95 and his was $ 11.95. The place is beautiful. Dine inside or out. It was packed for a Tuesday night! (I know they just opened, but nice to see.)

It is an open kitchen, with 2 Greek men cooking. No room for dessert. (As always)

I can't beleive I found this place! Watch out 7 hills!!

Pithari Taverna
28 Woodbridge Avenue
Highland Park, NJ
(732) 572 - 0721

I think everyone would enjoy. Much better of a place than It's Greek to Me!

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  1. I went last night and was sadly pretty disappointed. Very crowded(not there fault however there could be a couple less tables in the place). 4 of us shared the greek spread appy,the grape leaves and then moussaka,chicken souvlaki platter and grilled calamari. The assorted spreads and the accompanying pita was very good but the mossaka was served luke warm and the calamari was chewy but tasty. Sadly they had none of the other fish offerings except for the callamari last night which was a disappointment as they looked appealing. Finally our waiter was surly and annoyed with us it seemed from the start.
    We all agreed we would be sticking with 7 hills of Istanbul from now on or the new Indian place in New Brunswick (just reviewed in NYT). Only offering counter point.

    1 Reply
    1. re: adi

      Pithari Taverna was reviewed in the "NY Times," on Sunday, April 8th. It received a rating of "Very Good." Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/08/nyr...

    2. This place is great! The spinach pie was wonderful and salads quite tasty. My next trip will take me to the great looking and smelling grilled meats. While it would be perfect to have the liquor license as a bar, given the NJ laws this is better than the typical BYOB set up and frankly less expensive than if they served you direct. As with all new places, I am sure there are growing pains, thats life. Highland Park is becoming an outgrowth of the food center that has developed in New Brunswick with choices on all points of the spectrum. Adi: go back so that you can give it a fair shot.

      1. Another fabulous meal here on Thurs. night!! I must say though, the fried calamari appetizer was not up to par. It was chewy and not cooked through. Our dinners were great! My husband had the red snapper, very fresh and delish! I had the lamb souvlaki (again). Everything was great and I am please once again with the place!

        1. I went at lunchtime with two colleagues and the food was really good. The place was packed at 2PM on a Thursday afternoon. I had the whole grilled porgy which was on special and it was fab. Ditto for the octopus. Greek sausage was not a winner - just OK. There was a table of middle-aged guys drinking heavily and when one of them dropped his glass on the floor (it broke), a bunch of people throughout the restaurant yelled "Opa!".

          1. This place sounds great! I've been to a simliar-sounding place in Florida ( Taverna Opa in Ft Lauderdale), and I've been missing it ever since we left. Do you know if they have gift certificates? Is it within walking distance to any other points of interest/shopping? How far from downtown New Brunswick?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Alycia

              I am not sure if they have gift certificates, and no, it is not in walking distance from downtown N.B. It is probably 5 miles from downtown. I think you will really enjoy it, Alycia.

              Have fun!!

              1. re: Alycia

                It is not far from downtown New Brunswick: from the train station in NB to Taverna it is a little over a mile. (indeed some commuters walk to the train from the area, though the bus does go down the street - Route 27): there are a number of shops in downtown Highland Park.

              2. Finally got to visit, arrived at 5:30PM on a Saturday and got a table. The place was packed and there was a line by 6:00PM. Reservations are definitely required for prime time here.

                The food was absolutely fabulous. We had Avgolemeno (Chicken-Egg-Lemon Soup) and Melantzanesalata so start, and both were excellent. I had the charcoal-grilled shrimp, which was done perfectly, and my wife had the grilled lamb, also perfect. I can't wait to go back and try more. Oh, and the Baklava was great as well.

                1. I can't disagree more strongly with the positive reviews that are posted here. My wife and I are Highland Park residents and we'd really like to support this place, but after three visits I'm sorry to say we're ready to give up. Each time our food has been served cold and we've had to send it back. All of the meat dishes we've tried have been of very low quality, full of grissle and connective tissue. The vegetarian dishes have been better, but with the exception of the spanakopita which is very good, they're nothing special. The chairs are also very uncomfortable.

                  My advice is to buy the spanakopita at the shop next door but avoid the restaurant. If you're in the area and feel like middle eastern food go to the 7 Hills down the block. For basically the same price you will get tasty, very high quality food, served in a comfortable and relaxing setting.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dchunter1

                    First bad review for this place. Anymore comments?

                    1. re: bgut1

                      We were there several months ago. I'm pretty sure we started with one of the mezzes; however, since I can't recall what it was, it means it was not so bad that it's stuck in my mind that way, but neither was it very impressive. We had whole fish. It was o.k. but not anywhere near as wonderful as those we've had at Ethos, our favorite Greek spot, in NYC. In short, though I was not particularly bowled over by Pithari, I'm not ready to write it off yet. So, we'll probably try it again sometime, but I'm not rushing.

                    2. re: dchunter1

                      We also live in Highland Park and were very excited when we saw this new restaurant was opening. Visually it's impressive. Unfortunately, the dining experience was far from impressive. We have given Pithari four visits, and we have been disappointed each time. The service has been very slow each time and the wait staff has been consistently inattentive and distracted. We felt like it was a bother to the servers to actually serve our food. The food has been "ok", but nothing special, with the exception of the chicken souvlaki which was quite bad. It was dry and bland.

                    3. I have been to Greek Restaurants all over the world and Pithari is truly a gem. Some of the most authentic and tasty dishes around. Who would ever imagine a restaurant like this, in Highland Park, New Jersey. We made reservations on Father's Day, for a party of six and arrived 30 minutes late. The dining room was packed, but the owner was accomodating and hustled a few tables together, which worked perfectly. The service throughout the whole meal, was above an beyond. We started the meal, with the the cold and hot mixed appetizer samplers (Pikilies). Both were an excellent variety of Greek favorites. Everything was so fresh, Not like many restaurants, which open up a jar and pour the Greek specialties, on the serving dish. Everything was home made. Everyone had a different dish for the main course. The plates of food, were enough for three people (everyone at the table had plenty to take home). Again, all of the food was expertly prepared. I had a very difficult time choosing the main course, but chose the stuffed eggplant. Excellent!!! The desserts were all yummy too. Not a bad part, to the meal. Can't wait to go back again and introduce some friends to an authentic Greek restaurant. The outdoor front porch area, will make for an enjoyable evening setting.

                      1. I am a log-time HP resident and finally tried Pithari Taverna on Woodbridge Ave. I had low expectations considering the historically unimpressive choices of HP dining establishments.

                        Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

                        We arrived at approx 8 PM on a pleasant August evening and sat at an outdoor table. The place was filled but not overflowing. Unlike some of the previous posts, I found the service attentive without being annoying and did not push any of my "poor service buttons". The proprieter was friendly and gregarious.

                        Being the first time there, I sampled a variety of standard dishes as a litmus test of the quality in general. The Tzatziki was flavorful and, as all the dishes, the portion was generous. The avgelomono chicken-lemon-orzo soup was good but a bit starchy. I tried a lamb souvlaki platter which was tasty and tender but perhaps a bit overcooked.

                        The Octopous Sta Karvouna was a prize winner: a juicy and succulent section served on herbed virgin olive oil. Mmmm!

                        Not a connoisseur of Greek cuisine, I compare it favorably to the Greek restaurants I have visited on Toronto's Danforth Avenue. I will return!

                        Three stars! (out of five)

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Jonah Giacalone

                          Ok, it isn't NEW anymore, but I dined here today with a small group from the office and a big thumbs up as the food was full of flavor, well prepared, fresh ingredients and more than enough on the plate to satisfy most any diner (as even I took food home)

                          We started off with a cold appy platter (hummus, fish, eggplant, and feta). The olives and warm pita hit the spot. Also had the warm feta in phylo with tzatziki sauce. I opted for the gryo (as my morning oatmeal, and the meatless appy's had me craving for meat).

                          As stated, the ingredients are all fresh and I really loved this place and I've yet to have a better gyro. mmmmmmmm..

                          Finished off our lunch with dessert which we split and all great: Baklava, Ravani and Galaktombouerka along with some kicka$$ Greek coffee.

                          This one will be on my short list at the office and it's still only a 10-12 minute ride down River Rd.

                          Had the lamb/beef gyro

                          1. re: JustJake

                            Maybe my expectations were set a little too high after reading the reviews and visiting their very nice website,but I was not impressed.My only comparrison in NJ is Nick's Trapezi which I fouund to be better for food.The place was very busy,but still had people waiting when I counted over twenty empty seats due to the fact that all the four tops had only two people seated at them.Typical Greek organisation ! Service was generally poor,our BYO wine was opened and we were left for a long time without glasses.
                            Meatballs seemed to be deep fried,which was sad.Everything had far too much herbs.I do like Oregano,Marjoram etc,but the amounts used were just overpowering.A simple Chicken Giro platter was overloaded to the point of being unappetising.
                            The decor was bright,clean and very typical of any Greek taverna.No overpowering Greek music thankfully and overall a pleasant atmosphere,just let down by pedestrian food.
                            I don't understand what the fuss is about?

                            1. re: xny556cip

                              As I said in my post upthread, our one experience at Pithari was meh. There was no Niko's Trapezi at that time. Now that there is, I see absolutely no reason to ever return to Pithari since the food at Niko's is so superior.

                              And, btw, I found the seating at Pithari quite cramped, and service was so-so. Not a problem with either of those at Niko's where tables are nicely spaced and service is first-rate!

                              Photos of our meals at Niko's Trapezi can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              1. re: RGR

                                Yes RGR the seating was cramped,but overall I still preferred the atmosphere at Pithari over Niko's,but the food is the most important thing here and Niko's wins on both food and service.BTW it was nice to see your blog from the flickr link.
                                I'm planning a South Patterson trip soon to check out the shawarama.I have it on good authority from a Syrian friend that Patterson is the place to go for this.It really can't be that difficult to be better than most all the places i've tried so far in NJ !

                                Pithari Taverna
                                28 Woodbridge Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904

                                1. re: xny556cip

                                  xny, Thanks for checking out the photos and visiting my blog. :) I agree that food is most important. However, for me, there is one thing that trumps that. No matter how good the food might be, I avoid restaurants with hideously high noise levels. I haven't run across the problem much in NJ, but in NYC, there are a number of restaurants I either will never go back to or won't even bother trying because of this issue.