Santorini in Williamsburg
Went here last night on a whim and when I searched Chow this morning to see what others thought, was surprised to find nothing. Psyched that I get to do the first review. This has never happened to me before.
The first thing I'll say is the food is REALLY GOOD and we used to live in Astoria. There are some caveats to this (see below) but the food itself was impressive.
I had one of the fish specials, fried cod with scordalia ("garlic and potato spread with lemon juice and greek olive oil"). The waitress told me they usually serve this with fresh beets, but they were out tonight so I was offered a side of my choice. I picked "mixed vegetables" which was not at all like what you get in other restaurants. I got a dish of sauteed/braised zucchini, squash, eggplant, bell pepper and potatoes. These did not come from some generic mix. They were obviously cut up and seasoned by the chef in the kitchen from fresh. My SO had the lamb gyro special which came with unbelievably tasty fries. He started batting my hands away half way thru the meal because I was eating all of them. I don't eat meat so I didn't taste the gyro itself but according to him, it was very good, too.
The service was very good as well: polite and not overbearing. (If you look up my other posts, service is very important to me). We asked about liquor (didn't realize it was BYOB), and the owner came out of the kitchen to apologize about absence of liquor license. She is an awesome lady and chatted with us for a while, as she did with other tables. We are the kind of folks that appreciate this kind of thing (I know other people sometimes find it awkward but we loved it.)
Now for the caveats: it is a little on the expensive side. My fish was $20 and SO's gyro special platter was $18. In Astoria, I used to live a block away from Aliada, probably one of the best Greek (OK, they're Cypriot, but you get the point) restaurants I've been to and this place is in their price range. Aliada, on the other hand, has a much more extensive menu where you can make a decent meal on the cheap from a bunch of small plates. This brings me to caveat #2. I'm a vegetarian. There was virtually nothing for me to eat here. I'll eat fish in these circumstances but I'm not psyched about it especially when I don't know the origin of said fish (farmed vs. wild caught). It would be great to see some more veggie-friendly options in a neighborhood where most places consider vegan options a must.
That said, I will be back. I would much rather pay a lot for good, authentic, well-prepared food than settle for the parade of horribles that most Greek places outside of Astoria tend to be.
I agree that this place is quite good, and that the folks who run it are super friendly and nice. The space is also really pleasant. I'm also vegetarian (occasionally pesce-vegetarian), and what I generally order is either the spinach or cheese pie and a salad. The "pies" are actually coils of phyllo dough (you break off sections to eat your way to the center); they are delectable. The salads are substantial; I usually get the one that is greens and feta and olives. These two things together constitute a pretty hearty (and possibly healthy?) dinner.
Also, the dandelion green sauteed with lemon side dish is good, if you like the slightly bitter flavor of these greens. And the potatoes! Yum.
As for the BYOB -- there's a wine store a couple of blocks away, at S2nd and Bedford, and Khim's Millenium around the corner on Bedford and N1 and the bodega across the street have a shockingly good selection of beer.
Also the lemon potato side dish is amazing. that, along with the salads, and the spinach/cheese pies makes for plenty good vegetarian eating. actually one of my favorite places for veggie things in the area, even though they only make up a smaller part of the menu.
While I'm at it, lemme just say that Santorini in general is REALLY GOOD! There never seems to be anyone in there, so I hope more people start going. I guess I only ever get takeout, but still. I really hope they stay in business.