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Santorini in Sleepy Hollow- still excellent

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My friend and I tried Santorini last night, and the food was excellent.

Pita was soft and warm, and srixxled with a very light olive oil and a subtly-sweet dried oregano- definitely not the ubiquitous harsh flaky stuff I tend to avoid. For appetizers, we ordered melitzanosalata and grilled octopus. The melitzanosalata, which is usually one of my favorite things to eat, was the one disappointing dish of the evening. Instead of a thick, creamy sweet roasted eggplant dip, their version was more of a light, diluted-tasting puree that was overwhelmed by what seemed like red pepper (sweet) and unripe tomatoes. That was kind of a bummer for me. The octopus, however, was outrageously good. Grilled perfectly, with just the right amount of tenderness inside and bite on the outside. The octopus itself could not have tasted more fresh (for being grilled) and sweet. But the marinade! The bottom of the dish contained a shallow pool of herbed sweet and sour dressing that was out of this world. I was sorry when the octopus was finished and I couldn't sop up any more of it!
Next, I had the moussaka while my friend had the shrimp saganaki. My moussaka was very good- plenty of well-seasoned beef, well-cooked eggplant slices and rich becamel. While it wasn't the best moussaka I've ever had, I was happy with it, and pleasantly surprised at how non-greasy it was. Not a spot of grease on my plate. The moussaka came with excellent roasted lemon potatoes. I thought the portion was generous- if I had been eating only that dish, then I probably could have finished it. But after octopus and pita, and with potatoes, no way. The moussaka also came with a terrific salad. Fresh cubes of feta and purple olives adorned the top of a fairly large bowl of greens and assorted onions. The fabulous dressing was served on the side. This was no typical red wine vinegar dressing- this was heavenly. I think they must have used a very fruity vinegar (raspberry?), for this tangy dressing, as it had a truly lovely contrast of tart, sweet and salty- yes, there were tiny crumbles of feta in it, as well. But my favorite part of the salad was the stuffed grape leaf, which was possibly the best I have ever had: lemony, creamy and satisfyingly chewy, with just the right amount of subtle bitterness from the tender leaf.
My friend's shrimp (I could only manage one shrimp with a hefty spoonful of sauce) was delicious. The shrimp was juicy and the feta and peppers gave a nice twist to the chunky tomato sauce. The sauce was a little bit too sweet for my taste, but still very good. She ordered the beets with skordalia side dish, as well, and seemed to really enjoy it. I considered trying it, but decided not to push it with so much food in front of me. It did look good, though.

Now, a word about the service:
Our experience started off on the wrong foot, with a valet who ignored us for a full ten minutes. We sat directly in front of the valet sign, at times having to move to allow other cars to pass. We actually weren't sure that the guy dressed as a valet was, in fact, the valet because he clearly wasn't acting like one. We sat there waiting for someone else to appear, possibly with keys in hand, but no one did. After a while, we got frustrated and my friend dropped me off while she went to park. She met me in the vestibule a few minutes later, and told me that he was, indeed, the valet- she saw him helping others as she was walking in. I did not care for that at all!
The host/manager seemed frazzled, but pleasant. He was a little bit too busy to be friendly, and I saw him fail to answer guests as they walked out and wished *him* a good night, but I think this was due to distraction, considering how busy they were. He also kept mumbling under his breath about diners who refused to leave and open up tables. The servers are not professional. They are slow and slightly begrudging- it took forever for them to clean an empty table for us, as they were clearly more interested in engaging other patrons in conversation as a small crown gathered in the entranceway. Once the table was clean, the man just barely looked at us and gestured to it. We escorted ourselves over and sat down :)
Our server was perfunctory and a little bit gruff. I didn't really mind, though, because I could tell that this was very much a family-run business, and if my uncle had been the one taking orders, he probably would have acted a lot like this guy :) He only warmed up toward the end, when my friend started speaking to him in Greek. Then he was all smiles!

We had no room left for dessert, as one by-product of slow service is having way too much time to linger over your food when you're already stuffed. Then again, compulsive overindulgence is usually a good sign when it comes to food, right?

I heartily recommend Santorini. Just don't expect professional service, and know that there probably will be a wait during heavy traffic hours, even with a reservation.
I will definitely be back- their gyro and tzatziki looked great, and I must have a whole order of dolmadakia next time.

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  1. I should also mention that I found the prices to be very reasonable. Where else will you get a large portion of delicious moussaka, a large salad with feta, olives and dolmade, and roasted potatoes for $12? Our entire bill came to $68 with tip.

    1. great post..was pita home made?? or store bought..thanks

      2 Replies
      1. re: intrepid

        Store bought pita, I'm pretty sure. Nothing exceptional, and that's too bad.

        1. re: intrepid

          I honestly don't know about where the pita is made- it was so fresh and soft that I didn't think twice about where it came from. It's fairly bland in flavor, and I used it mostly as a vehicle for sauces. If it is a commercial brand, I'd love to know which one. I enjoyed it.

        2. While we'll probably go back and try again one more time, our experience at Santorini on Weds night this past week was not all that we'd hoped it would be. We chose a weeknight hoping to avoid a huge crowed.

          Service, as has been previously noted, was very slow - one waitress for the 8-9 tables, no busboy. I HATE having to ask for a refill on water FOUR times. I felt badly for her. What is the guy at the cash register/front counter actually doing, other than ringing up the occasional tab, looking into the kitchen and getting in the waitress' way? Maybe he could pry himself out of there to pour water and check drink refills? Phone didn't seem to be ringing for take-out, so make yourself useful, man.

          The food was ok, but not memorable. We'd not made notes on previous diner's faves, so we ordered what we've liked at other places. Went with lemon soup (not very lemony); saganaki (sigh - no tableside flambe like other Greek places we've been to, but decent - cheese they used didn't seem like the caseri we've had before); Caesar salad; and chicken brochettes. Caesar salad was poor - nasty little store-bought croutons, like Pepperidge Farm for turkey dressing - powdered parmesan, and definitely dressing from a bottle. Yuck-o. Chicken tasty, but no more so than what I can do at home. Rice overcooked and not particuarly interesting. Tzakiki with the little greens on the brochette plate was yummy.

          We'll go back to previously posting and try other's faves, but I'm not sure that I can't do just as well with the Greek items at the Landmark Diner in Ossining!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Nancy C

            ceasar salad? don't know why it's on a greek menu or why you would order it at an authentic greek restaurant. Look over threads and see what to order 90% reviews were positive so perhaps you ordered wrong.Greek items are usually terrific- bad day?

            1. re: yeshana

              I was surprised by some of the items on the menu, considering that this is clearly a very ethnically Greek restaurant serving anything but diner food. A chicken wrap with bacon and swiss? Mozzarella sticks??!
              I'd agree that perhaps Nancy C would have had a better experience with a more traditionally Greek salad. Then again, she did not care for their much-lauded lemon soup, either. Perhaps the restaurant was having an off night? It happens.
              http://santorinigreekrestaurant.com/

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                The greek salad is awesome! I have it every time I go there. Also, I suspected that the pita was homemade. It's sooo good. But who knows.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  Didn't start with those items on his menu upon opening- public must be influencing this. I hope that chicken fingers and spaghetti and meatballs don't show up on the menu to cater to others!

                  1. re: yeshana

                    That's an interesting point- I didn't know that. It almost seemed like they were trying to sneak some "diner items" onto the menu (onion rings, jumbo burgers, etc.) that were really very unnecessary. Their Greek food was so so good. Perhaps more families will come if the kiddies can get a chicken wrap?

                2. re: yeshana

                  Re: Caesar salad. Just 'cause it's not Greek doesn't mean it shouldn't be good, IMO. Hubby doesn't groove on Greek salad, so we went with another offering on the menu, in the hope they'd do it right... sigh, not so. We certainly expect some variations in quality in a restaurant's menu, but that was WAY bad.

                  1. re: Nancy C

                    My initial thought reading your review was why in the world would someone order caesar salad in a Greek restaurant...but you're right, if it's on the menu and served to paying customers, it should be done right...I am a huge fan of Santorini's, and do hope you'll give it another try for their wonderful, fresh Greek specialties (no comparison to Landmark diner, which I do like).

              2. i have been to santorini twice the past six months.... last time was mother's day.....food is good to very good and the prices are very reasonable.....i had the gyro plate and i mentioned not to burn the edges .....came a little dry because i think they baked it a little to warm it up so as to accomodate my request......but they tried to please so.....i plan to go back.......prices are very reasonable

                1 Reply
                1. re: jaymor

                  This was exactly the experience we had the last time (and I mean THE VERY LAST TIME) we ate there. Never again!

                2. I am sadly going to have to report that I will never be returning to this restaurant. It takes a lot for me to write a really negative review and I eat out pretty much 7 days a week, but this had to be the worst restaurant experience my boyfriend and I have had in years!

                  Let me preface by saying that the food was decent. I had the gyro and the "rice" soup as I like to call their Greek soup and it tasted good. Nothing amazing, but good enough to try again. But sadly, I will never try this place again. Why?

                  The service had to be the worst that I have ever experienced. And usually, I can take bad service, I am not too picky, but this service was horrible and actually pretty abusive at times. I never have been yelled at by my server before.

                  First, the server. I am not sure if he is part owner or what. He is older and I think he is Greek. But he had the WORST attitude. He was rude, unfriendly, and acted like we were bothering him. He was the only server and he did not let any of the very sweet busgirls? (no idea what to call them) help him out at all. It was his restaurant and he had all the tables and he was the MAN of the restaurant. So this led to us waiting for about 25 to order. 15 minutes for drinks. And then about 30 minutes for our food. And in-between all these things, NOBODY would get us refills, answer any questions,etc. The busgirls wanted to help, but he was the one in charge, so all they could do was tell him and he just ignored our requests.

                  I had to ask for pita bread 8 times! And when I finally asked him again he YELLED at me. I mean, yelled at me!!

                  Then after he yelled at me, it took 30 minutes for us to get our check!!

                  NEVER will eat at this place again.

                  I don't want to be doted on when I go to a restaurant and I always try to understand when they are busy. But I do expect to be treated like a human being!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: chloe4ever

                    That's too bad to hear, chloe. We went a month or two ago and found the food to be, in general, as good as before the Times review (hadn't been since then), but I've found the service is really not that great. I don't blame you for not wanting to go back!

                    1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                      Thanks, I felt bad as well. After hearing all the great reviews from everyone on here, I was so psyched about trying this place. Too bad.

                    2. re: chloe4ever

                      Similar experience with BAD food in July with a tall youngish male waiter in the back who I think had some brain damage- (a different career would work- just not waitering with brain damage)
                      Food was awful, sooo over cooked- every dish was incorrect, even with being very specific about our requests and having him repeat them back to me( I could tell he was mentally challenged)
                      "bus girl" spilt my glass of wine to the floor and broke the glass. They did clean it up but then, I told our "brain surgeon" waiter that a whole glass of wine is now gone(we had one bottle)and that I wanted to have it replaced to make up for the missing amount left in our bottle. Forget it!
                      My fish, that I always get there, and love, was a crusty piece of I don't know what- crunchy something greasy with any fish flesh fried off! YUK!!!!
                      pita and free huumus was the best part of the meal.
                      Very frustrating!!!!!

                      1. re: yeshana

                        I would avoid this restaurant! Tables outside may look inviting but there is terrific noise from trucks and other passing traffic. Greek salad is passable but souvaki and other mains miss the boat by a wide margin. Only one good thing about eating here - Coffee Lab is just a few doors over. You will be amazed by their lattes or cappuccinos.

                        1. re: budinado

                          Budinado---I think you're referring to Lefteris on the corner of Main and Broadway in Tarrytown. This thread is about Santorini in Sleepy Hollow.

                          Last time I went to Santorini I experienced that same older waiter. He didn't yell at me but he was certainly brusque. Food was still good though---I enjoyed the lamb shank, which came in a more than ample portion (the previous time I had it, it was the size of a chicken leg). In general I liked this place better pre-Times review, pre-crowds, and pre-liquor license, when one could eat in peace and byob.

                          1. re: Boswell

                            We've been in Santorini many times and the food is always excellent. The problem is the older male waiter. Last night we got the wrong food, the wrong kind of wine, and some attitude. He clearly did not want to be there. It is too bad, because the food is still tops.

                          2. re: budinado

                            that's lefteris- this is santorini in sleepy hollow on valley street- try it and comment

                      2. I sadly concur with reports that Santorini has gone downhill since NYT review. Ate there before and really enjoyed. Service was fine and food was excellent. Went again recently and had no particular service issues but overall food was not terrible but not great. With the exception of the pita's and the dips, the food seemed re-heated and ordinary, almost greek diner like in some cases particularly the pasticchio.

                        It was head and shoulders above Lefteris but now the difference between the two is not all that great. We live in lower Westchester and the 20 min. trip that used to be worthwhile is no longer enticing. While we might try again if in the area, I won't go out of my way for Santorini unless I see a slew of new food quality reports to the contrary.

                        For now, it's worth driving a few more minutes and going over the bridge to Queens.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: laylag

                          Folks, we moved some Queens recommendations to the Outer Boroughs board. You'll find the new thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552517 . Thanks.