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Greek Restaurant - Highland Park

yankeefan Jan 26, 2008 10:19 AM

I have had good experiences here, Pithari (sp?) Taverna and was wondering what others experiences have been.

I also visited the Meditteranean place on Easton ave in new brunswick and was thoroughly surprised and impressed.

  1. t
    Tom777 Sep 22, 2008 02:58 AM

    With Greek blood coursing through our veins (on both sides of the family), and accustomed to home cooked authentic Greek cuisine, our dining experience for quality Greek food would take us to Astoria. No longer! We have visited Pithari five or six times and have been very satisfied every time with all the dishes with one exception - the taramosalata last night was a dud.
    We were a party of twelve last night with adults and children. The grilled octopus was superb, melidsanosalata tasty; tdsadsiki smooth and creamy, even the feta cheese in the Greek salad was quality (not the usual bland dry cheese we find elsewhere). The chicken oreganato and the lamb in the clay pot were the usual excellent. The fresh fish we had on three separate occasions was top quality and delicious (last night it was the sea bass). Caution about the fish: to avoid sticker shock, you may want to ask about the price before hand.
    Their homemade baklava and galactobouriko were superb. We will return!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tom777
      Passadumkeg Sep 22, 2008 04:16 AM

      Remember Strom's on Albany St in NB? First Greek grub in town.

    2. MercerChow Jun 7, 2008 03:27 AM

      Pithari has been on my list of places to try for a long time, and I finally got my chance. It’s about a one hour drive at rush hour and as I was getting ready to leave I went to their website for a quick look at the menu and found this message:

      “This site is unavailable due to NON-PAYMENT for services and expenses related to the two web sites (one static and one animated) that were public at this domain for 10 consecutive months. As any domain, www.pitharitaverna.com is owned by the entity whose funds were used to register and purchase it.”

      As it turned out, I should have taken this as an omen.

      To be fair, the food was every bit as good as I expected based on the posts here. There were six of us, with a range of entrees from whole fish to pork chops to quail to moussaka to bakalao, and everyone was pleased with the quality. I would reiterate the warning above, however, to check the market prices on the fish in advance. The red snapper clocked in at $44.

      But this particular evening was a poster child for how service issues can overwhelm very good food. I usually don’t mind leisurely service – which this was – but a professional kitchen with the confidence to charge $44 for an entrée ought to be able to get all of the orders out at the same time.

      The pork chops, quail, and two whole fish all appeared at once. Then it was another ten minutes before the bakalao showed up. And yet another five minutes waiting for the moussaka (which one would think should have been the easiest). This sort of poor performance puts such a brake on the momentum of a nice social occasion.

      Many establishments that pride themselves on service would have found a tangible way of apologizing, but Pithari did not. We were not happy, and they let us stay that way.

      That said, the food was good enough that I would actually consider going back and taking my chances. Perhaps someone has tips on nights, places to sit, party size, etc. that optimize service there.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MercerChow
        BigGeorge Jun 8, 2008 05:31 PM

        I just ate at 7 Hills today and i would recommend going.

        1. re: MercerChow
          yankeefan Jun 16, 2008 11:38 AM

          Thats unfortunate. I would agree, that service is hit or miss. I find that to be the only fault, esp since it is less crowded now with the newly built deck. There are a couple great waitresses that are truly friendly, even more for regulars. However, there are a couple people for service that are completely horrific to the point that they can ruin the meal. I may actually request a new table/server next time I receive the one older blonde woman.

          But the food never never disappoints me. Best fried calamari and oct dishes I have ever eaten.

          FYI- that was their old website. New one is thepithari.com which has been up and running.

        2. MercerChow Jan 27, 2008 02:28 PM

          Is the place on Easton Avenue called Evelyn's? Does anyone else have experience there?

          8 Replies
          1. re: MercerChow
            RGR Jan 28, 2008 06:52 AM

            Yes. Evelyn's serves Lebanese cuisine, not Greek, though there are similarities. I haven't been there is ages. The food was quite tasty, and I haven't heard anything to indicate that it's gone downhill.

            1. re: RGR
              jrd303 Jan 28, 2008 02:32 PM

              The food is still wonderful. I eat there regularly. I love the lamb shish kabobs and the spinach pies and the hummus is always good. .

              1. re: RGR
                Gabbeh Jan 28, 2008 03:07 PM

                Second on Sabra--went there by chance a month ago and was surprised. Their chicken kabobs were carefully done with parsley and other flavors rolled into the chicken.

                1. re: RGR
                  RPMcMurphy Apr 14, 2008 12:55 PM

                  great outdoor bar in the summer that is sometimes a place to escape the regular college kid bar.

                  1. re: RPMcMurphy
                    Marcharlan Apr 15, 2008 04:37 PM

                    Ok, so heres the run down of Middle East places in the Highland Park/New Brunswick Area -

                    Evelyns - decent lebanese food in a busy university atmosphere. Liquor license is a real plus to those of us who care. Also, kitchen is open late. Outdoor dining in rear though short on atmosphere.

                    Sahara - Fair syrian food. Service tends to be good and atmosphere is
                    a little more upscale. Pricing quite fair.

                    Seven Hills - Turkish. Unique atmosphere; attentive service. Good food. Several outside tables when warm

                    Shushan Grill - Persian/Israeli. Good Food esp the Schwarma. Bad service. Kosher.

                    Pithari - Greek. No liquor license as such, but with package goods next door it doesnt matter. Food is consistently good. Best fish of the group. Service has been good in my experience, but Ive heard otherwise and table wait can be long when they are busy. Now that the weather is getting warm, a table outside is wonderful.

                    Short of it is - each has pros and cons. On a nice day, with a bottle or three of wine, I like Greek. For a random nite when wanting a late dinner Evelyn's And when I just want a really good schwarma - Shushan Grill.

                    1. re: Marcharlan
                      yankeefan Apr 16, 2008 06:53 AM

                      Good synopsis.

                      Ive wanted to try Evelyns but I wish they had a byob policy.
                      Sahara is better sometimes than others.
                      Ive been wanting to try Seven Hills, do you recommend highly? also- is this one a byob?
                      Pithari to me is still the top notch of the list.

                      1. re: yankeefan
                        jrd303 Apr 16, 2008 01:44 PM

                        Evelyn's has a bar.

                        1. re: yankeefan
                          Marcharlan Apr 16, 2008 04:57 PM

                          Evelyns (as noted below) has a liquor license. At times it feels like it is one big bar where Lebanese food happens to be served. If you want a lively university atmosphere, then this is a good place. If you want to have a conversation, that can be hard at times.

                          Seven Hills has great atmosphere - the furnishings were brought by the owners from Turkey when the emigrated. The food is good Turkish (from what I recall from my trip to Istambul years ago). It is a BYOB. ( If your in HP and seeking a bottle to bring, then try either the Rite Aid or Pino's each of which is at the intersection of 4th Ave and Raritan/Rt 27).

                          And two more I forgot - Peter's is a little hole in the wall lunch place on Elm Street and Patterson St. in NB near the Courthouse. Good falafel. ZERO atmosphere and only limited seating.

                          Jerusalem Pizza. A kosher pizza joint with decent falafel and salads. Less than ZERO atmosphere. (Dont know when they last invested in the place.) The lowest ranking on this list.

                          Many good choices. Go out and enjoy the spring.

                2. n
                  njeggy1 Jan 27, 2008 01:40 PM

                  I liked the food, but the service is slow and inattentive.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: njeggy1
                    yankeefan Jan 28, 2008 02:24 PM

                    Been there 4 times so far, twice had great service and the other two horrible.

                    Seems to be all or nothing. Want to throw out my first visit to Sahara on Easton Ave in NB, actually very good. Didnt expect much, but liked a lot.

                    1. re: yankeefan
                      RPMcMurphy Apr 14, 2008 12:54 PM

                      went to Sahara today for lunch, Took my girlfriend and her 2 co-workers out to lunch. Bill was 52.48$, digital check.....but on the top the waitress hand wrote "Recommended Gratuity 18% - $9.44"

                      Not a bad place, but that left a real bad taste...heck, I was planning on leaving 20-25%...

                  2. c
                    carl555 Jan 27, 2008 06:58 AM

                    We went several times last spring and enjoyed the food, both vegetarian and lamb. I like the little grocery store next door too. Now both children have graduated from Rutgers so we aren't likely to be back soon.

                    1. a
                      arpad Jan 27, 2008 06:45 AM

                      I like the food and the place ... only caution ... be sure to ask prices for seafood ! Regular menu tops out in the low twenties but catch of the day seafood can run thirty five dollars !

                      1. r
                        RGR Jan 26, 2008 10:25 AM

                        I thought Pithari Taverna was just o.k. But it does have fans here. (Paging Angelina!)
                        Here's a previous thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/333134

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RGR
                          Angelina Jan 27, 2008 06:39 AM

                          ha! ha! you are too cute, RGR!!! Yes, I really like the place! :)

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