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Niko's Trapezi A Greek Taverna Long Branch NJ

This is located in the strip mall that has Amy's Omelette House. Was at Caputo's Bakery and one of the gentlemen here told me that this place just opened and how great the food was.

The sign outside reads Greek Grill but the menu has the name
Niko's Trapezi
444 Ocean Blvd
Long Branch NJ

The menu looks wonderful and creative!
Would have stopped but had already had lunch. Let us know.

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  1. Thanks for the information. Sounds great!

    1. Food is AWESOME!!! So much to choose from...so glad this opened...much, much better than It's Greek to Me.

      19 Replies
      1. re: kuklist

        Looks like this is your first post to Chowhound!

        Tell us what did you have at Niko's?
        We would like to hear the specifics about your meal.


        1. re: shabbystorm

          Hi Shabbystorm! Because of your post, I tried this place this past weekend. (Saturday to be exact.) Thanks so much for telling me about this place. It was really good. When we were seated were were given nice toasted bread with olive oil and mixed olives with roasted peppers I believe. We both did not care for the olives. Personally, I don't like when they are mixed like that, but that is just a preference of mine.

          To start we had an order of tzatziki and fried calamari. Both were very good. The calamari was good because the oil was fresh that it was made in. The tomato sauce with it was o.k., but I never really care for the sauces that come with fried calamari anyhow.

          For main, I had the shrimp sauteed in a tomato sauce with feta. The shrimp were very good, and I really enjoyed my dish. It was $ 18.00 and I thought worth it. You get a choice of lomon potatoes, rice, FF, or dandelions. We both had the dandelions, they were mixed with a lot of spinach, but I liked it.

          My husband had the whold fish special of Barbounie (spelling?) It was really great! I wish I ordered his dish! The fish had a great smoky, wood taste and it was really tasty! For $22.00 it was a steel in our eyes. Especially when most places charge $40 or $ 50.00 for that same fish. He also had the dandelions.

          No room for dessert, but they give you complimentary cookies. Really good. One of the owners went around to every table to introduce himself. (Jay) He said his partner was the chef, Nick. He was very personable and spoke to use for a while. The kitchen is open and Nick was back there very busy. Many people were picking up take out orders and the place was getting pretty busy. The only thing I really thought was annoying was that some of the wait staff (the younger ones) was overly coming up to the table trying to clear plates. I hate that. I put down my fork, one the the girls wasnted to take my plate. My husband finished his bread..BOOM! They wanted to take the plate. We told our waitress we are trying to enjoy our dinner and told her to slow it down, but they was no use.

          I know they just opened, but hopefully those young kids learn not to try to clear the whole table while others are dinning. Our total for dinner was $ 53.00 before tax and tip. A real bargain and great food!

          We will definately be going back! Thanks again shabby!!

          Also, it is a BYO and there is a liquor store in the same strip mall. Tables inside and a few outside.

          1. re: Angelina

            Thanks for the report, Angelina.

            Did they have a wide selection of whole fish. (Btw, you're spelling was very close. It's barbounia.)

            What's the interior decor like? And do you know what the days and hours of operation are?

            Of course, if they had a website....

            1. re: RGR

              Dream on RGR about the website! lol!! No website, yet Jay said.

              The interior is nice, the walls have nice molding, some areas of the wall are faux painting, not overkill with blue and white everywhere either. The tables and chairs are comfortable as well.

              I don't know the hours and the menu I have right in front of me does not say.

              They have a fish of the day and that is what my husband had. Here are some of the other fishes on the mnu and pricing:

              Grilled salmon steak $ 16

              Grilled swordfish $ 18

              Shrimp on the grill $ 16

              Batter fried codfish with skordalia $ 16

              Codfish baked in a medley of onions, tomatoes, celery and garlic $ 16

              Baby Flounder with crabmeat stuffing $ 18

              Baby Flounder with spinach and feta stuffing $ 18

              Grilled porgy or pan fried porgy (Market Price)


              Want to know anything else? I wish I could copy and paste the menu, but for now I will just answer any questons.

              Hope this helps!!

              1. re: Angelina

                Thanks, Angelina, for the additional info. If we decide to go, we'll just call and ask their hours. But I do hope Jay will "get with the program" and get a website up and running asap. It doesn't have to have a lot of bells and whistles. As Sgt. Friday on "Dragnet" used to say, "Just the facts." Yeah, I know, I'm dating myself for a change! LOL

                1. re: Angelina

                  Hi Angelina, you have given me some great advice recently. Would you remember if there were a few vegetarian options on their menu? My husband eats dairy but I do not so if you recall any items that could accomodate us both, we'd surely pay them a visit based on your review and the other comments here. Many thanks!

                  1. re: rutgers2

                    Hi rutgers!!! Hmmmm...let me see what I can find on the menu...(I should probably have dual ownership in the place...ha ha!!!)

                    Do vegetarian's eat fish? I am sorry, but mostly all of the menu is fish, lamb, or beef. Some pasta, too. Maybe you could eat the bread and they could throw you and your husband a carrot??? hee hee..just kidding!!!

                    What about chicken? I can post those dishes if you like??

                    Let me know! :)

                    1. re: Angelina

                      Have the menu in front of me on my Road Trip Board - to Angela's point above they do have some veggie choices. Only one main course but there are some options for the dairy veggie person ..hope this helps.

                      1. Horiatiki - Traditional village salad with tomatoes, cucs, onions, olives, green peppers, feta and olive oil
                      2. Prasini - Green salad with romaine, scallions, dill, feta, and a house vinaigrette
                      3. Roka - Arugula, tomatoes, cucs, onion, feta, and wheat rusks
                      and a few other basic salads.

                      Gigandes - Giant Lima Beans baked in a light tomato sauce
                      Greek Chips - Fried zucchini or eggplant with dip
                      Tiropitakia - Phyllo pastry filled with feta
                      Haloumi - Grilled

                      Spanakopita - Spinach, feta, leeks wrapped in phyllo

                      Patazaria - Fresh beets, red onions and a house vinaigrette
                      Fasolakia - Green beans and tomatoes
                      Arakas - Sweet peas and tomatoes
                      Horta - Steamed Veggies with lemon and Olive Oil

                      And Desserts
                      Greek Yogurt with honey and Walnuts

                2. re: RGR

                  Nikos is open 11;30am - 9 pm-- Great place...warm ,friendly,clean atmosphere and delicious food -- we will be back!!!!!!!!!!!!

                3. re: Angelina

                  Glad it was good!
                  I take no credit, chowhound is a give and take kinda of thing, happiness in and happiness out!
                  Thank YOU for braving the unknown!

                  1. re: shabbystorm

                    Thanks shabby!!! I figured it was my turn to take one for the team!! lol!!!

              2. re: kuklist

                I don't really think it's better than It's Greek to Me, the salads aren't as large or as fresh as they are at It's Greek to Me. I thought the portions were smaller and that the food was less flavorful at Niko's.

                  1. re: fershore

                    I know exactly what you mean.

                    FWIW we've been to Nikos 3 times in the last 4 months and have really enjoyed it.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      I met a friend there for dinner last night and everything was first rate; we really couldn't complain about portion size, since we both took food away. And fwiw the salads were perfectly fresh and lightly dressed.

                      I tried the gavras last night at the encouragement of the owner, fried anchovies. They are not the salty, oily canned ants but fresh, whole fish and nicely fried. They were plenty assertive and while I think I prefer the subtlety of the smelts, this was a nice change.

                      Place was hopping on a Tuesday night. I like it a lot.

                    2. re: fershore

                      LOL! One-hit wonder, indeed!

                      One of the worst eating out experiences we've ever had was at the Holmdel location of It's Greek to Me. The appetizers were so disgusting that we canceled the rest of the order and left.

                      1. re: RGR

                        I actually don't mind It's Greek To Me...it is what it is. :)

                        1. re: joonjoon

                          Been to the Greek To Me in Long Branch twice. Mediocre food. Sullen service.

                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    Nothing about hours of operation on this menu...

                    1. re: shabbystorm

                      Niko's is open from 11:30 to 9:00 pm--this is a keeper... in every aspect..great food, great service,nice decor! going there for a bday celebration this weekend and cannot wait.....

                    2. re: equal_Mark

                      YES----they serve lunch...they are opend 11:30-9pm--what a great place!

                      1. re: queenlinda

                        queenlinda, Do you know whether Nikos is open for lunch? :-)

                        1. re: equal_Mark

                          sorry i posted twice about lunch equal_Mark!....try the grilled octopus and the spanekopita....incredible!..going back tonight

                      1. re: equal_Mark

                        Thanks for providing the menu and the photos, equal_Mark. I presume you only went in to have a look and did not eat there?

                        1. re: RGR

                          Went for lunch on Saturday. Just had the Dolmades and a Gyro. Both were very good. So far I like the food, atmosphere and service are better than It's Greek to Me down the road, though on a nice day the outdoor seating at IGTM may be more tempting. Niko's seems to have more heart as an individually owned establishment as opposed to a chain type place. Am looking forward to trying the calamari to clinch the deal...

                          1. re: equal_Mark

                            The only IGTM we've been to is the one in Holmdel. Our appetizer was so horrible, we canceled our main course and left.

                      2. we went the first friday after it opened...i think it had been open for three or four days..i initially stopped by out of curiousity after reading the original post..they were shocked when i told them about chowhound and i wrote down the website for them...everyone was very friendly, enthusiastic and patient answering all of my questions...i came back a few hours later..the interior is comfortable, no pretense, wasn't noisy..i had the moussaka (sp) and my friend had the lamb chops...both were fantastic but if you are a fan of moussaka then order it..it was very well seasoned not heavy-handed...really good...we were both so stuffed but they brought us a huge slice of galaktobouiko...who cares if you can't pronounce it-order it! hard to articulate the flavor but it seemed almost like flan wrapped in phyllo drizzled with honey...believe me, i'm not doing it justice...whatever, we are still talking about it...i am thrilled this place opened, especially since it's within walking distanceand prices are more than reasonable..

                        1 Reply
                        1. this place sounds great, I love greek food and have been continuously disappointed with the Greek in the area. How packed do you think they will be on a friday night???

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: emilyb27

                            They've only been open 2 or 3 weeks, so I doubt they are packing them in yet. You could always call in a reservation just in case...

                            1. re: equal_Mark

                              Well,, whoever thought thinks Niko's isn't packed yet because its a new establishment is wrong!! WEnt last night and the place was jammed! this is the real deal, authentic Greek....unbelievable...we were a group of 12..had spanekopita, grilled octopus ,fried calamari, dolamades, hummus and pita..those were just the appetizers..then we had stuffed chicken, stuffed flounder, grilled snapper, a few gyros, a few souvlakis. and the shrimp with rice , tomato and feta....
                              THIS IS FOOD FOR THE GODS!!! exceptional quality , taste and portions!!
                              Gus was our waiter, very friendly and helpful!! We met two of the owners..Georgia and Jay, friendly and warm..! OUr compliments to their other partner..Niko...excellent chef!!
                              WE WILL BE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              WOndergFeng, tinea

                          2. we went to niko's last night and i want to thank everyone for recommending this gem. we started with the olives and bread, which appeared to be toasted on the grill and served with a splash of olive oil on each piece. next was haloumi, a salty, grilled cheese, which we have never before seen on a menu in new jersey. it was great- chewy and rich with nice black grill marks. i ordered the whole sea bass when i found out it was bronzino, my favorite! it was nicely charred and the fish was tender and flavorful. what a deal at $18. our one disappointment was the baklava, which was a bit soggy. overall, niko's was a pleasant surprise and we'll be back.

                            1. Oh my god!

                              This place was frikkin' awesome!

                              For dinner I chose calamari and a grilled shrimp dish with horta, or steamed salad and kale greens with lemon sauce. For dessert I chose to share the cheesecake dish, and a cup of the organic coffee on tap.

                              CALAMARI: Whoa! This has to be some of the freshest I've had, and not rubbery or overcooked - made to perfection.

                              GRILLED SHRIMP: The blackened shrimp in this dish were lightly seasoned and extremely tasty.

                              HORTA: This set of steamed vegetables when braised with lemon was a delicious healthy addition to the meal.

                              CHEESECAKE: Forgive yourself in advance. Owner says he didn't plan on including it in the menu - but when his brother made him taste it, couldn't keep it off! One of the few non-Greek dishes in this satisfying menu.

                              GO TO NIKO'S!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: smoothcriminal

                                The horta was not really good in my book, but everything else was great! I only wish they would not combine the dandelions with too much spinach. Very boring, but I definately like the place, aside from that!

                                1. re: Angelina

                                  Went for lunch today (just missed equalmark I was told) and agree with the board completely - well, except for the "food for the gods" comment ;o)

                                  Seriously though, very good all around and well worth the drive from Freehold.

                                  Had avgolemono soup - only problem is that it comes in such a small bowl and we had to get another lol.
                                  Pork souvlaki - very tasty pork and the rice and salad were also excellent. Again though, smallish portion.
                                  Gyro sandwich was as good as anywhere and we could see the meat turning on the spit near the front of the kitchen area.
                                  Lamb chops were also very good albeit expensive for a few chops at $20.
                                  Shared cheesecake and baklava for dessert and loved both.

                                  Sorry I missed "meeting up" with you Mark and as usual a great find for the board - Chowhound rules!

                                  1. re: seal

                                    How did you find out we were there? Our waiter was most amusing...

                                    We started with the Kalimari and dolmedas. For entrees we did the spanikopeda and Pork souvlaki. Again, everything was excellent. The only real problem was with the spanikopeda; the portion was just huge! Caused me to avoid dessert.

                                    Luckily, said waitguy advised my friend to order a special dessert that was not on the menu. Ekmek, which was a combo of baked shredded phyllo, syrup, pastry cream and slivered almonds. She was swooning and I had a taste. I don't really have a sweet tooth but this was excellent!

                                    Looks to be a keeper...

                                    1. re: equal_Mark

                                      Looked up the dessert we were given. Waiter described it as if "Tiramisu and Napoleon had a child."


                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        Quick question, if you don't mind. How were the dolmades served? That is, hot or cold? Dated a Greek girl in college, her mom made the most ridiculous dolmades, served warm with a buttery lemon sauce. 20 yrs later and I still haven't found any that were close to that goodness!

                                        1. re: TomT

                                          They were served cold on a bed of greens with a viniagrette. Never had them warm before. I'm sure you could ask about it, they seem very accommodating...

                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                            Thanks. Served hot they were more like the arab version of stuffed grape leaves, and contained meat along with the rice. Unlike the arab version, they were not as heavily spiced, relying on the sauce it cooked in to add depth of flavor.

                                            Man, I'm hungry.

                                2. Nikos menu has been updated. Crabkakes are out EKMEK KATAIFI is in...


                                  1. I join in the solid reviews for Niko's. Ate there over the holiday weekend and really enjoyed everything we had. The most notable standout dish was the whole grilled branzini ... just delicious. Will need to return to try more of the menu. Should have satisfied our sweet tooth with Niko's desserts ... the ice cream place a couple of doors over was not very good.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: jsfein

                                      I have to keep reminding myself to try this place. Too many good reviews. Thanks jsfein.

                                      1. re: bgut1

                                        b, I was thinking the same thing, only problem is these new interesting restaurants like Niko's and Ama are in a different time zone to where we live :))
                                        Amazing what we will do for a good meal ;)

                                      2. re: jsfein

                                        We also went to lunch at Nikos last week. As usual everything was excellent. We started with dolmades, kalamari and tzatziki. Had the Gyro sandwich, pastitsio and chicken stuffed with feta and spinach.

                                        One thing I did find unusual. The tzatziki was possibly the best I've ever had, but when you order it they don't serve any pita with it. You're supposed to spoon it up like cucumber/yogurt pudding? Guess the pita comes a'la carte. Whatever, everything was still good...

                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                          Per wikipedia -
                                          "In touristy restaurants, and outside Greece and Cyprus, tzatziki is often served with bread (loaf or pita) as part of the first course of a meal. Greeks, Cypriots and those from all over the Middle East use this dish as a side dish to a meal with meat. The acidity cuts the fat, thus tzatziki is also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros, in which case it may be called cucumber sauce (especially in the U.S.)."

                                          1. re: bgut1

                                            Yep. Last time I checked Long Branch is "outside Greece and Cyprus."

                                            Bring on the pita! :-)

                                          2. re: equal_Mark

                                            It's noted on the menu that it's a side dish ($1). Which seems petty, but when I ate there, I could see why. Pita so good, it fills you up, and you order less. Not sure if they charged us for it, since I was there with joonjoon and others for my birthday.

                                            1. re: aacharya

                                              What a shameless birthday plug. ;)

                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                Well, I'd also use it to plug this fantastic restaurant, but all I ordered was the amazing spinach and rice dish. Everything else I stole from others.

                                        2. This place sounds awesome. I can't wait to try it. I love Greek food and it always amazes me that good Greek restaurants are so rare. They now have a website:
                                          They have lots of photos and the menu listed.

                                          1. We finally made it to Niko's for dinner.
                                            Would concur with the positive reports posted.
                                            Personal favorites of the evening Haloumi Saganaki Style and Grilled Kalamari!

                                            1. I'm a little surprised about how positive the reviews have been for this restaurant. We enjoyed the appetizers, but our main dishes - specifically my whole grilled fish, were not as impressive for us as reviews suggested. The fish was rather dry, which it made it a little difficult to eat.

                                              Hoping it was a one time experience and maybe we had an off day with the chef

                                              ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NOTE, Shumi in Somerville was fantastic - I don't have time for a complete review, but it will follow soon!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: gwh912

                                                We've been to Niko's once, and our whole grilled branzino was perfect: juicy and delicious. Looking back through the posts upthread, everyone else has had the same good experience with their grilled fish. So, if yours was not, then it would appear to have been an aberration.

                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  Went to Niko's Sunday night with 4 other people. Arrived just before 9, which is probably the cut-off time. Fortunately, they graciously seated us. We were also the last table to leave.

                                                  I had spanakopita, and split a large horatiki salad with someone. Good combination. The spanakopita was a HUGE piece. I had the baklava for dessert, but split it with someone so I could have half of their Ekmek Kataifi. Both desserts were excellent. I also took home a slice of the cheesecake, which is still in my fridge. (Tasted it.. very creamy and smooth).

                                                  Everyone in our party loved their meals. I spoke with the owner, very nice guy.. I mentioned Chowhound.. he knew of it and said a bunch of Chowhounders had been there, but the one he knew for sure was equal_Mark. :)

                                                  I may return for my birthday dinner.. it's between a whole grilled branzino, or sushi somewhere.. maybe that Shumi place mentioned two posts up. :)

                                                  1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                    Just got back from my first time at Niko's about 15 minutes ago. Went with friends who are a)chowhound enthusiasts and have been telling me to go to Niko's for quite some time now. Well, I can tell why. it was not only of the better greek meals out I have ever had, but some of the most delicious food I have had on the beach. We split several appetizers, the fried cheese (delicious, a heart attack on a plate but COMPLETELY worth it), the fried calamari, which were light, crispy and tender inside (special shout out to the wonderful tomato sauce) and the pita with dipping sauces. the hummus, the it started out a bit too creamy for my personal taste, was delicous and the tatziki was very fresh (LOVED the garlic), but my favorite was the baba ganouj. Absolutely wonderful! light, tasty, with a well conceived hint of cilantro. Yum. My friend has the mousaka. I could not believe how light and creamy the bechamel was. I had the gyro with chicken, perfectly grilled with fresh chunks of (i hope jersey) tomatoes.
                                                    Desert sealed the deal. Our waiter convinced me on the Baklava, fresh made this morning. I wish we had ordered desert 15 minutes later than we did, as it had time to cool because we were still digesting dinner! we also ordered the desert with custard wrapped in phyllo ( not my personal favorite, but I would recommend it to any one who is a custard fan) and the cheesecake. Let me tell you something, i have crawled to the far corners of manhattan, the bronx, and brooklyn in search of cheesecake. Little did I know, I need not look farther than my backyard for the cheesecake. Light and creamy and delicious. Absolutely delicious.

                                                    Great atmosphere. Our waiter had some good recomendations, and I would go back in a heart beat. YOU MUST GO!

                                                  2. re: RGR

                                                    very possible; always willing to give a deserving place a second shot

                                                2. Well, Niko’s was great.

                                                  I went last night with a friend and I’ll admit that I was fairly optimistic after reading posts on this thread. Even at that I was pleasantly surprised.

                                                  My grilled octopus starter was first rate, right up there with the best that I’ve had, and the dolmades were good. My friend had terrific baby flounder stuffed with feta and spinach, perfectly cooked. I kept it simple and had the mousaka and I just loved it. Piping hot, it was a more than generous serving, carefully prepared, nice béchamel, good tomato sauce—I look forward to having it again. In fact, I will be having it again, because I took half of it away. I’m afraid I hit the grilled bread a little hard.

                                                  The staff was friendly and attentive without being intrusive. I liked the cut of their jib. The room got warm and stuffy and we mentioned it to our server who saw to it right away. I like the room, too, prettier than I expected. I’m not sure how the noise level would be if the place was full, but (except for you, big mouth, obnoxious cell phone guy, and you know who you are) with the room at about half, it was fine.

                                                  Not a bad showing for an off-season Tuesday night. I’m delighted to have this place so very nearby.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Deb Van D

                                                    Finally got to try Niko's. I wish I knew why we waited so long but glad we finally made it. My husband and I trust everyone's recommendations on this site and as vegetarians, we really enjoy reaching out to a lot of the contributors to see if we can be accomodated (without coming across as annoying). We went for lunch yesterday and the food was fresh and simply delicious. We found the host/owner to be very friendly and our waitress was beyond nice. We enjoyed that the owner went around to each table to ask how the meal was, etc. and we really liked that the diners were families as well as couples. Very charming. We loved the decor, it didn't seem like we were in a strip mall at all. Both my husband and I had items off of the mezze menu, which were excellent (eggplant dip, dolmades, salad, halloumi cheese). I think for some non-veg, this would be a nice start to a meal but for us, it was perfect. We look forward to many, many return trips.

                                                  2. So, a few couples are going here tonight and its our first time. From the posts it looks like the whole fish is the way to go. Any other not to miss dishes at Niko's.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: tom246

                                                      Their octupus is expensive, but seriously tasty.

                                                      1. re: tom246

                                                        Definitely the whole fish, Tom. And a side of the tasty lemon potatoes. For apps, the melitzanosalata and the tiropitakia are winners. For dessert, the galaktobouriko is excellent.

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

                                                        Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          I think they may have one of the best avgolemono soups anywhere. It is a very small bowl even for one and I have gotten two bowls just for me.

                                                          1. re: seal

                                                            Funny, that. Their servings (except for the octopus) are more than generous and I'd think the soup would be something they could afford to lavish on you. Not that a second bowl would break the bank. I like the place.

                                                      2. Six of us descended upon this lively BYO serving some very good Greek cuisine. We shared the apps which were the Pikilia which was a 4 dip assortment. All were very good. Came with a basket of pita. Could have made a meal just from this.
                                                        Also ordered the fried calamari and Atherina which was a plate full of tasty baby smelts.
                                                        While deciding on the entrees, we all enjoyed the grilled bread and olives.

                                                        We all picked an assortment of entrees and they were all good to excellent. The Pastitsio, blend of macaroni, seasoned ground beef and cheese topped with a creamy bechamel sauce drew a big thumbs up from the other end of the table. A whole Porgy was mostly deboned prior to serving and dressed in a simple olive oil and lemon dressing. Very large portion and declared "excellent". The Bakaliaros Plaki, codfish baked in a medley of onions, tomatoes, celery and garlic was very tasty. Maybe a bit too much of the medley as it stole from the nice cod. The Glossa Trapezi, baby flounder stuffed with spinach and feta was a large portion, cooked nicly to retain moisture and was very good. The Arni Sto Foueno, roasted, sliced leg of lamb served with a demi-glace sauce was a large serving of tasty lamb but the demi-glace was bland and detracted from the meat. The last entree was a special of short rib stew where the short rib meat was off the bone and declared a winner.
                                                        All the entrees came with sides of well prepared rice or roasted lemon potatoes. You won't leave hungry and a couple of people have lunch for today.

                                                        We were all filled but picked on some nice desserts which included a cookie assortment, which were very good, creamy rice pudding which was excellent and the Ekmek Kataifi, shredded phyllo dough, layers of pastry cream and whipped cream, topped with almond slivers and a bit of cinnamon. This was also excellent.

                                                        Service from our main server Shae was great all night and she had help from several others who attended to your every need. She was especially helpful in guiding us to our final order.
                                                        Niko's is a friendly lively place with many larger groups of friends and family. Bring some bottles of wine as we did last night, relax and order away.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: tom246

                                                          After reading about the grilled octopus I finally got around to trying it last night. Not at all what I was expecting. Just a lemon wedge, parsley sprig and two whole grill marked octopus tentacles about 10 inches long. The only other place I've had octopus is at asian restaurants and they usually come cut into pieces and stir fried. in my experience they always seemed the consistancy of rubber. The octopus at Nikos, though quite firm, was not at all chewy. It almost had the flavor akin to king crab legs. At the thicker end there iven seemed to be a small strip of fat that seemed to melt nicely from being grilled.

                                                          All in all I enjoyed it, though I have to say I'd like it even more if it cost half as much... :-)

                                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                                            I asked them why the octopus is so expensive - and the answer was that it takes a lot of prep work to get the octo that tender. Take it or leave it I guess.

                                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                                              Okay. I'll bite. How much is the octopus?

                                                              1. re: bgut1

                                                                $14 or $15, I can't remember for sure. But it's really good. And I sort of balance it out by choosing a thriftier entree like the pastitsio or the moussaka and it doesn't seem to pinch quite so much.

                                                        2. A few Friday's ago my husband and I where having our usual Friday night debate, where to go to dinner. Finally we decided to give Niko's a try since I had read some many great things about it on this site.

                                                          We were really impressed with the menu and did not know where to start! We decided to do a few appetizers. We had the Pikilia (assortment of dips, served with pita), fried calamari, Soutzoukakia Smirneika (meatballs with cumin in tomato sauce), and Saganaki (crispy fried cheese). Everything was so awesome! The standout for me were the meatballs. I really, really, loved them. My husband really enjoyed his calamari. It was light and crispy. Cooked to perfection. My husband thought for sure that he would get a gyro after the apps but boy, was he wrong. We were quite full but decided to have desserts anyway. I had the cookie assortment (loved the powder sugared ones- I could only eat 2) and DH had the custard with the phyllo. Fabulous. We will be going back very soon.

                                                          Also, the staff at the restaurant were friendly, knowledgeable and patient. (So very unlike the surly staff at IGTM)!

                                                          1. We recently went back to Niko's for the second time. The moussaka is outstanding -- one of the best we've had anywhere. And everything else was not exactly too shabby. Love the galaktobouriko!

                                                            Photos of this meal can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                            And in case you haven't seen the photos of first meal there, you can see them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                              Great pix, RGR! Had to stop looking because it was making me go off my head with hunger.

                                                              1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                Thanks for the kind words, Deb! I agree it's best not to look at food "porn" when one's stomach is empty. When you recover, I hope you'll go back and click over to my review. :) The waitress we had was as terrific as the food!

                                                                1. re: RGR

                                                                  Thanks, I just did and enjoyed your review. I think their moussaka is first rate and I really want to try the eggplant salad next time I go, which will be soon. The whole branzino is also on my short list.

                                                                  I have never had less than charming service there. The last time we went was after the last snowfall and the room was so cozy and warm, a real tonic. Makes me want to go back there on this wintry night.

                                                                  1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                    Thanks fellow hounds for all the positive reviews on this excellent restaurant. Had some business to take care of in Monmouth Beach so I decided to treat my wife to an early dinner at Niko's. We both love grilled whole fish and after all the excellent reviews I pretty much knew what I wanted before I even looked at the menu. I have to say though that they have a great menu and it was tough to decide. However, the whole grilled branzino and Pat got the whole grilled snapper. We had humas as a starter and it was excellent. Some more pita would have been nice but, would probaby have ruined my dinner. Both the branzino and snapper were to die for and the lemon potatoes and horat were perfect compliments. I love all greek food and would love to work my way through the entire menu at Niko's. However, I just don't know if I can go there and not get the fish again. Niko's is now on my short list of favorite Monmouth restaurants. BTW...good liquor in same strip mall for wine.

                                                                    1. re: Shoreguy4u

                                                                      Glad to hear that you had an excellent experience at Niko's, Shoreguy4u. I know exactly how feel about the branzino. It was so excellent when we had it the first time we were there, it was difficult for us not to order it again. However, we managed to overcome that desire and ended up being very glad we did because the moussaka was superb! :)

                                                                      1. re: Shoreguy4u

                                                                        Shore - The liquor store in the shopping center is called Vingo. They have a number of locations throughout the county and are my "go to" wine store in the area. BTW, I'm happy you enjoyed your meal. I need to make it over and try Niko's.

                                                                        1. re: bgut1

                                                                          A bit late to the party on this one....but better late than never ! Dined mid-week and was surprised at the extensive menu (Particularly Fish ).The place was virtually empty and that bothered me initially (as well as the bank of microwaves in the kitchen ).Without going into detail ,I kept it very simple and ordered something basic - meaning grilled and deep fried.
                                                                          It was decent.
                                                                          By that ,I mean it was head and shoulders above IAGTM,did not resemble anything offered in a Diner - but it failed to transport me to Athens or Astoria.I will go back on a w/e when I hope they are very,very busy and may try some of the fish.
                                                                          Driving 1 1/2 hrs. to Elias's and trying to navigate the borough that most resembles Beiruit was never fun.

                                                                          1. re: xny556cip

                                                                            "Driving 1 1/2 hrs. to Elias's and trying to navigate the borough that most resembles Beiruit was never fun."

                                                                            Two things.

                                                                            Queens, especially Astoria, is just fine. This ain't the 1970s. New York is the safest large city in the country.

                                                                            Elias is wildly overrated by people who think it's exotic to go to Astoria. Their grilled whole fish, minimally seasoned, is nothing special at all.

                                                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                              Two things:

                                                                              My comments were in no way about safety concerns,merely the overall drabness of the area and traffic .Exotic Astoria ? Ha Ha!

                                                                              Yes Elias is overrated and is probably living on it's laurels,but most importantly they do sell a lot of fresh fish,and as far as i'm concerned - the fresher and simpler the better.

                                                              2. Have been here several times (that in itself is an indication of the quality of the experience) and it is always terrific. Very friendly service, and outstanding food. Just be careful, because it is getting extremely busy (and there are no reservations for parties less than six).

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: Heidi61

                                                                  Has anyone been to Milos in NYC and is so how does the fish compare? To me Milos is the ultimate in Greek Seafood, so if it is even in the same ballpark that is impressive. I also saw there is a new Greek restaurant opening on Route 35 North in Hazlet/Holmdel area. My wife and I are hoping its at least decent because thats closer to us than Long Branch and we agree with most on this thread that IGTM is mediocre at best.

                                                                  1. re: hcentro

                                                                    We've been to Milos, Molyvos and other Greek places in NYC. We've also been to Stamna, Greek Taverna, IGTM and others. I think Niko's is up there. It may not be quite as good as Milos, but it is significantly less expensive. I think Niko's is the best Greek in NJ.

                                                                    Stamna Restaurant
                                                                    1049 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ 07003

                                                                    Greek Taverna
                                                                    292 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042

                                                                    1. re: hcentro

                                                                      It is definately NOT in the same category as Milos. Sorry :( I know...we can all only WISH for that to happen, but looks like no time soon! The only NJ place I have been to that is a little close to Milos is Varka in Ramsey. Unfortunately, Ramsey is over an hour drive for me, so that is only a meet up place when we visit friends!

                                                                      Niko's is worth a try, and steer clear of It's Greek to me...blah!

                                                                      30 North Spruce Street, Ramsey, NJ 07446

                                                                      1. re: hcentro

                                                                        We have not been to Milos. However, I think trying to compare Niko's to Milos is ridiculous. That's like comparing a Chevy to a Rolls Royce, i.e., Niko's is a moderately-priced, casual trattoria, while Milos is *very* high. A much more appropriate comparison in NYC would be moderately-priced places with very good food like Uncle Nick's, Ethos, Kellari's Parea, etc., and Niko's is certainly comparable.

                                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                                          Sorry RGR I didn't mean to be ridiculous. I merely asked if it was in the same ballpark which to me doesn't mean equal, but could still be very good. Anyhow my wife and I went there on Saturday for Lunch and agree that the restaurant is very good. We started with the Pikilla of four dips. We agreed that the Hummus, Tzatziki and the Melitzanosalata were ok, but nothing spectacular. The Taramosalata(caviar dip) however was excellent. We next had the grilled octopus, which was perfectly cooked. It was tender and delicious. We had the whole grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass as our entree and that was also excellent. We also felt at $24 it was a bargain as it was more than large enough for us to share. We had the Greek Fries as the side since my wife always enjoys them. Now I normally hate Greek Fries as most places put to much lemon on them for my tastes, but they were very well seasoned with just a hint of lemon. We will certainly be back to try other dishes and highly recommend this restaurant.

                                                                          1. re: hcentro

                                                                            Hi there,
                                                                            Had lunch there the other day. I am from Los Angeles and my Mom is greek. The owner whom took our reservation was very nice on the phone and came by to say hello as well. The room was busy and the food was fine. Just did not wow me as most say here. The Taramosalata is full of mayo and no caviar beeds to speak of, grilled fish was very nice and at $24 a very good deal, Fried cheese pass. I normally have this at other places, when the waiter brings the cheese to the table adds some greek brandy and sets it on fire. The version here reminded me of a school lunch, like a fried Mcdonalds hash brown. Greek salad was fine, howeverm the olive oil they use is very nice... All in all a nice place, but heck not all the love I read here. Be warned.. lower your expectations so you wont fall into the trap that I..and you will walk away happy.

                                                                            1. re: Foodandwine

                                                                              I thought I read a while ago that tableside flambe is illegal in New Jersey.

                                                                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                                                                Which dish was like fried McDonald's hash browns? I can't seem to find that on their menu.


                                                                        2. re: Heidi61

                                                                          I still go by what I said, but that's based on the fact we can't get decent Greek food anywhere else in the area.

                                                                        3. Just to chime in here with our thoughts- Was here yesterday. Grilled fish was out of this world as was the special seafood shish ka bob.. This place sparkles compared to most of this area's restaurants!

                                                                              1. As a native new yorker now living in Monmouth county, I think Nikos is excellent for the price point. My husband and I either dine in or get takeout at least once a week. From the grilled fish to the moussaka to the excellent cheesecake ( not technically Greek but so good) everything has always been fresh and well prepared. Yes, it may not be the best Greek food in the tristate/mid-Atlantic area, but i think it's one of the best affordable meals in the area, and that's why I think it gets so much love.

                                                                                1. this restaurant seems to have the most positive feedback on chowhound for restaurants in long branch. i might be coming into long branch with my gf soon. would this be your go to spot for good food in long branch? i'm also a little concerned that since she lives in astoria (a greek food mecca) that she may be underwhelmed, does anyone know how niko's matches up to greek restaurants in astoria, queens (nyc)?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: daffyduck

                                                                                      If she lives in Astoria home to some amazing greek restaurants, I would not take her to any greek restaurant in Monmouth county. If she lives in queens I would find a place with a view of the ocean.

                                                                                      1. re: angelo04

                                                                                        That site has been up for about a year. What info do you need that isn't posted there?

                                                                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                          A friend and I were there on Thursday night, and the menu seems to have changed somewhat. The website seems to be under re-construction as well. My impression was that the prices are slightly higher, but nothing dramatic. The place was full and we enjoyed our meal thoroughly. RGR has mentioned the piperies enthusiastically in the past, so I thought I would give them a try. Just delicious.

                                                                                          1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                                            Great photo, Deb! Glad you liked them.

                                                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                                                              Thanks, R! They were such a nice combination of piquancy and grill-y-ness, if I can make it past the smelts, I mean to order them again.

                                                                                      2. Nikos has updated their menu, which now includes an entirely separate (and more affordable) lunch menu that offers dozens of selections...


                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                          Finally had a chance to try Nikos Taverna Greek Grill this evening..I also had the honor of enjoying my meal with equal_Mark which in itself is always a good time.
                                                                                          Our friendly waiter brought us some nice toasted bread & assorted olives....For appetizers we had the Tzatziki w/ Hot Pita bread creamy and great just about on anything,...other choices were Soutzoukokia Smirneika seasoned Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, Htapodo Grilled Octopus "DELICIOUS" best I ever had almost the consistency of King Crab w/ lemon/olive oil!...Pipiues Grilled Feta stuffed green long peppers great flavor.....for our mains we ordered Grilled Whole Branzini fish I asked the owner if they would add garlic to mine for extra flavor and they were very accommodating, moist, nice char flavor simply delicious,...Arni Kabob Lamb & Vegetables on a skewer a bit well done but very very good served with lemon wedge potatoes.....for deserts, The Ekmek Kataifi was to die for "Creamy Heaven: Yum! & Baklava that blows away any Greek Diner version...all in all, .....good friends, great food.... I recomend you check it out for yourself I think you'll enjoy it very much!

                                                                                        2. Went for the first time last night and thought it was horrendous. Every dish I ordered was a mistake: watery hummus, over-salted octopus, overcooked seabass. The fish was so bony as to be inedible. We ordered four desserts which were terrible as well. The rice pudding was undercooked and, I suspect, came from a tin. Service was pleasant, but our server was eating his dinner the entire time (in plain view) and I felt we were repeatedly interrupting him. So disappointing & pricey.

                                                                                          Nikos Trapezi
                                                                                          444 Ocean Blvd N, Long Branch, NJ 07740

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: mysterry

                                                                                            Welcome to Chowhound, and congratulations on your first post.

                                                                                            I'm curious to know how your complaints about the food were addressed. We have found that the owner is very attentive and wants his customers' to be happy. We have enjoyed every meal, including takeout, that we've had at Niko's.

                                                                                            I believe that all of the desserts are homemade. We particularly enjoy the Ekmek Kataifi.

                                                                                            I'm not certain what can be done about a too-bony fish. When I order a whole fish, the server usually warns me to expect bones.

                                                                                            1. re: fershore

                                                                                              Third time's the charm, eh fershore? I'll be getting takeout there tonight. Piperies, Soutzoukakia Smirneika and Horiatiki...

                                                                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                                Jealous. We frequent all the same places...in fact from your pictures, I'm certain we live in the same neighborhood. Love those long high windows that the builder favored.

                                                                                                Ooo. I've never tried the Soutzoukakia Smirneika. Enjoy the takeout. If only I could learn to love olives...

                                                                                                1. re: fershore

                                                                                                  Actually my yard is on Google Maps


                                                                                                  According to your profile we share a town...

                                                                                                2. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                                  We got takeout last night from Niko's. At your (and others') recommendation, I got the Soutzoukakia Smirneika for the first time. Heavenly.

                                                                                                  1. re: fershore

                                                                                                    Dropping a few of them on half a baguette with some of the sauce makes for a hell of a meatball sub!

                                                                                                3. re: fershore

                                                                                                  Yeah, how does it make sense to order whole fish and say it's "so bony"? It's whole fish, it's not like they can add or remove bones.

                                                                                                  Having said that I got some whole grilled branzino there the other day...so delicious. I love Greek grilled fish...mmm....

                                                                                                  p.s. all bones on the fish were sucked dry.

                                                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                    Don't forget the Gigandes to go with the fish - They are the absolute best beans anywhere, the menu does not do them justice calling them just plain lima beans - it made me first say no way, but I tell you they are delicious and do not taste like any lima beans I have ever had!

                                                                                                  2. re: fershore

                                                                                                    Thanks for the warm welcome, fershore! I realize I'm in the minority with my complaints about Nikos and, for that reason, I will probably give them another try. I'm sure my next post will be more positive. Thank you for the tip about the Eknek Kataifi.

                                                                                                    It was the first time I'd had Branzino and, unfortunatelly, I was not alerted to its characteristic boniness. Unless I'm diining at a bbq establishment, I prefer to keep my public bone sucking to a minimum. ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: mysterry

                                                                                                      I'm with you on this one...after all the 80+++ positive reports to this place, I had to go...found the meal."meh" worthy. Nothing awful, but t just wasn't that great....tried it again a couple months later and it was a double-meh....i won't return.

                                                                                                      1. re: mysterry

                                                                                                        We order branzino -- both whole and filets -- often in restaurants, and I've never found it to be especially bony. In many places, when you order it whole, they will debone it for you. You still have to be careful of a possible stray bone, but it does make eating it a lot easier.

                                                                                                        When we had the whole branzino at Niko's, we asked that it be deboned. The young woman who was our server wasn't proficient enough to do it, so she called over the owner and he took care of it.

                                                                                                        We've been to Niko's twice. Links to my photos of those meals can be found upthread in my post dated Feb. 25, 2010.


                                                                                                  3. 6/25/2011
                                                                                                    What a let down and after hearing so many good things about this place we were very disappointed. Here's the lowdown:

                                                                                                    - Skimpy portions
                                                                                                    - Mediocre service
                                                                                                    - Just OK ambience
                                                                                                    - Overpriced
                                                                                                    - Just OK food quality

                                                                                                    After spending $80 including tax and tip on an all around diner quality meal we were not only gouged but ripped as well. The only good thing that came out of this was the discovery of a very nice Italian pastry store in the same plaza called Caputo's.

                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JerzeyShore

                                                                                                      jerzeyshore.....sorry to hear about your bad experience ....I'll agree it is a bit over priced for what you get at Nikos.....but those Cannoli's at Caputo's are a family favorite here! :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: Tapas52

                                                                                                        Tapas52 - The cannoli from Caputo's made the trip worthwhile ... delicious. I can see why it is a family favorite for you. :-)

                                                                                                      2. re: JerzeyShore

                                                                                                        "diner quality"

                                                                                                        My wife's exact words as we were walking out after our dinner. I wholeheartedly concurred.

                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                          I'd like to find the diner offering 4 or 5 kinds of whole grilled fish...

                                                                                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                                                            Hey, it's cool that some of you guys really like the place. Enjoy.

                                                                                                            I ate there once, with a group of 5, and tried a lot of plates. I found the food to be a C+ or so, lacking primarily from execution. The grilled bass, for example, was overcooked and tasted more of the grill than anything else. I left with no interest in returning.

                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                              I never got around to posting my review from about a month back but I must agree with MGZ. The food at Niko's did not impress. As MGZ correctly reported, the grilled fish and the octopus where mostly charred and "tasted more of the grill than anything else." Sorry but I doubt I would return except maybe for a gyro or a Greek salad.

                                                                                                              1. re: bgut1

                                                                                                                Sorry to hear that you were disappointed, b. I don't have to tell you how much I respect your opinion. And you are obviously not alone in your assessment. Since the food at the two meals we've had there has been well-prepared and very tasty, I'm beginning to think that there's a problem with consistency at Niko's, especially with regard to the quality of preparation. (I should note that we haven't been there in over a year.)

                                                                                                                ETA: I just read Bob Martinez's post below. It does appear to shoot down my inconsistency theory. So maybe it's just a case of "chacun à son goût."


                                                                                                                1. re: bgut1

                                                                                                                  I personally love that char/grill taste on my fish...I'm surprised you didn't like the Octo, I thought that was spectacular when I first had it (it's been a while though).

                                                                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                                                    RGR and Joon - Don't get me wrong, I love me some "char" on my food (especially a nice DeLorenzo's pie) however, in this case there were no other flavors supporting it. in fact with regard to the fish I was looking for/reaching for the salt shaker. I'm sorry to say that the restaurant just didn't do it for me.

                                                                                                          2. re: JerzeyShore

                                                                                                            We were there last Friday. Maybe we have different ideas about portion size. I had the leg of lamb and my girlfriend had the moussaka. Both were ample sized - we wound up taking some away with us. Neither of us is what I'd term a delicate eater either. The quality was very good.

                                                                                                            Their prices aren't cheap but not especially high either. (They're on their website so you shouldn't have been surprised.) The BYO factor offsets the prices nicely. We've probably gone their 15 or 20 times. About 30% of the time we've seen service issues but they've been relatively minor. Dishes not coming out together. Busboys attempting to take plates away before we were done. Nothing that would deter us from returning.

                                                                                                            I'd love to hear about a better Greek restaurant in a 20 mile radius of Monmouth Beach. Please. Lets hear it.

                                                                                                            1. re: JerzeyShore

                                                                                                              Niko's used to be very reasonably priced but has gotten a little more expensive with their recent menu overhaul. Unfortunately everything went up by a few bucks. I'd say their prices went from reasonable to moderate.

                                                                                                              Service was poor last time I was there. Sat for 10-15 minutes before being served.

                                                                                                              At the end of the day though, they still serve up the best grilled fish in the area, and that's what brings me back.

                                                                                                              1. re: JerzeyShore

                                                                                                                Caputo's is a wonderful pastry shop. Have been patronizing it for over 25 years. It once was sited on Lower Broadway before moving to the Ursala Plaza. Amy's Omelette house next door also makes really good corn beef hash.

                                                                                                              2. We haven't been in awhile and stopped in last night. There was a lamb shank special, served over orzo, that sounded good. It was superb, just hit the spot on a night with storm clouds gathering. Cozy and warm, I don't know why we haven't been there more recently.

                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                                                                  Same goes for us, Deb. Good to hear that you had an excellent meal there. I love lamb shanks -- actually, lamb in any way, shape, or form.


                                                                                                                  1. re: Deb Van D

                                                                                                                    I used to be a big fan of this place. I went for lunch about two weeks ago and had a mediocre meal. The service was slow and weird and the place was filthy. The bathroom floor was atrocious and it used to be so clean. I was sad to see this place go so downhill and I'm surprised by these recent positive reviews. I can forgive an occasional off day but the filth really put me off.

                                                                                                                    1. re: taste test

                                                                                                                      I've gone to Nikos around 15 times, most recently last week. I've never seen it filthy.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                        With you Bob. Even when we were the first customers at lunchtime, it was always clean. Also, never had a bad bowl of soup or a less than fresh tzatziki.