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It's ALL Greek to me in Nassau County and Western Suffolk

Gastronomos Mar 26, 2013 09:57 AM

Occassionally I get a craving for Greek food but don't want to travel all the way to Queens if I don't have the time to cook at home.

It can be an easy taco stand like place such as Gyro World on Northern Blvd in Flushing, or a more restaurant type place like MP Taverna in Roslyn.

I have tried Greek Towne in Rockville Centre. Not a fan.
I have been to MP Taverna in Roslyn several times, but it is very inconsistant in the food and limited, catering exclusively to non-Greeks, so the food isn't really doing it for me.
Gyro Palace on Sunrise in Merrick is the opposite of what I want.
Hellas Greek on Jeruselem in North Bellmore actually has OK souvlaki sticks, but that's it.
The Greek Grill of Huntington made a seftalia sandwich for me once that was ok, the next TWO visits it was absolutely inedible.
Neraki in Huntington does a lunch special that can feed me for lunch, but the grilled octopus was only good on my first visit. It failed on two other occassions and the *two* overcooked grilled shrimp on my last visit signed me off to this place.
Mediteranian Snack Bar and Scorpios in Huntington are a must avoid at all cost.
Gyrolicious in East Meadow has become a must avoid at all cost as well.
Greek Delight on Merrick Rd Bellmore serves nothing Greek, at all.
Santorini on Merrick Ave in Merrick is somewhat popular with non Greeks, but isn't doing anything worthy of a stop there.
Ethos in Great Neck scared us.
I haven't been back to Alexandros since they closed the place in the first location (years ago) and remember some very garlicky and ice cold chick peas as an amuse bouche. Would like to hear Chowhound opinions on this place.
Athena in Amityville did a respectable rendition of a dish once a while back that I would call "spetsofai", the menu just said "spicy Greek sausage and peppers" or something like that, but it was swimming in a pool of soy oil.
Grecian Grill in Farmingdale does an interesting, albeit non-greek, take on the chicken souvlaki, but that's it.
Limani in Roslyn is purley not Greek.
Pita Lovers East Meadow and Wantagh is a huge miss.
Souvlaki Place in Bayville boggles my mind how they have been there so long.
Some place on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square that was/is changing hands regularly had once made me a dry but tasty chicken souvlaki and paired it with yesterdays (or last weeks) lemon potatoes.
The Greek on Park in Massapequa Park is not what I'm looking for.

I'm sure there are more places to try. I haven't been to all of them, but willing to get myself to as many as I can. I know most of them are gyro joints. Whatever. I am not looking to try all the commercial gyro varieties out there though. Just as long as it's not a grilled fish joint. I am not on a trek to find that "one perfectly grilled fish". I make that at home infinitely better and more traditionally Greek as I do steaks as well.

What Greek or Greek style places are your favorites?

I'd like to hear from fellow chowhounds about Greek.

Peace.

P.S. No offense, but, please, with all respect, no diners, no turkish places and no middle eastern places calling themselves 'mediterranean' or Greek. :-)

  1. coll Jun 25, 2013 04:51 AM

    This is not in Nassau County or western Suffolk, but if you are in the Patchogue area next weekend, the St Johns Greek Festival in Blue Point has authentic Greek food, made by volunteers who know how to do homemade, and homemade only. We've moved away but I try to get over for the festival every year anyway; I just love their moussaka, it is my Holy Grail to learn to make it the way they do. And they have all the traditional homemade holiday desserts too.
    http://stjohnsbluepoint.org/festival....

    It's small, like going to a wedding or someone's backyard party, and it's mostly about the food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coll
      Gastronomos Jun 25, 2013 06:11 AM

      coll, that's one of my favorite things to do on spring weekends!
      Many GO churches have their annual festivals in the spring and the food is usually very good. My favorite has always been at the GO Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead/Garden City and it's one of the biggest. They always make the best traditional foods and world famous souvlakia and loukoumades!
      Last weekend we were at the small one in Merrick and there's going to be more in the weekends to come.
      Thanks! I'm going to try to make it to Blue Point next weekend. :-)

      1. re: Gastronomos
        coll Jun 25, 2013 06:18 AM

        Maybe we'll see you there! Let me know what you think; I'm not an expert on Greek food, but I know what I like.

    2. Gastronomos Jun 15, 2013 03:58 AM

      Driving through Merrick last night I noticed that a Greek Festival is happening. I would expect a decent souvlaki to come from a Greek festival. I had no time to check it out last night, but I hope to make it there this evening. If anybody has been, or is going, please let us know if the souvlaki pita wrapped sandwiches are worth the trip! Thanks! :-)

      1. Gastronomos Jun 4, 2013 03:26 PM

        The Greek on Park in Massapequa Park is closed. Any recs in the area for Greek eats?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gastronomos
          Gastronomos Nov 13, 2013 11:34 AM

          The Greek has been replaced by Greek Street.
          The Street Gyro is a good replica of some Greek street food. I've tried it twice. No lettuce, thankfully. Lettuce is filler and not authentic. Plenty of house made pork gyro meat, not the ground up mystery meat stuff, that's authentic. And so they do charge $10, but since they thankfully aren't filling it up with lettuce and are filling it up with house made stacked pork gyro meat, I can make a recommendation of authenticity here, whatever that means.

          1. re: Gastronomos
            s
            Scott_R Nov 13, 2013 12:09 PM

            A caveat: the lamb and the beef gyro are not house-made; I don't know where they buy them from.

            http://long-island.newsday.com/restau...

            ... strange; I could see the article the first time I went to it, but when I went back, paywall.

            1. re: Scott_R
              Gastronomos Nov 13, 2013 12:21 PM

              That salt lick of mystery meat isn't gyro. Try the house made pork gyro just like in Greece. And it has a few fries thrown in, just like in Greece. No lettuce! Yay!

        2. Gastronomos Apr 15, 2013 07:59 AM

          I stopped reading Newsday back in 2006, I do miss the food section though...
          I like the review below here of Santorini in Merrick I found online today searching for something else.
          It was published after my OP above.
          I have not ever been to this restaurant. Not even before 1993 when it was named something else. Judge for yourself:

          http://long-island.newsday.com/restau...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gastronomos
            mcf Apr 15, 2013 08:25 AM

            With Erica Marcus writing for the food section, you really don't need another reason to read Newsday (and I can't really think of one, either).

          2. Gastronomos Mar 27, 2013 03:08 PM

            FWIW, I found GRK Market on Merrick Ave in Merrick to be a very nice market for Greek provisions if one cannot get to Astoria for that imported feta fix or any Greek groceries. They also make a very nice frappe coffee drink ;-)

            3 Replies
            1. re: Gastronomos
              Gastronomos Apr 17, 2013 05:23 PM

              I found this interesting:

              http://long-island.newsday.com/shopping/grk-market-helps-get-your-greek-on-1.4999062

              I'll add to the above that the last sentence in the article is not all true. I have not found any imported feta at any supermarket. (Johns Farm in Plainview has some labeled 'Arahova', but I have yet to try it) Domestic cows milk feta is NOT the same in taste, texture etc... But most couldn't care less I'm sure.

              And no supermarket carries what the Greek grocer does. Some supermarkets carry some reasonable facsimilies of some things maybe, things such as bottled grape vine leaves, but that's all.
              I am also facinated by the date of the article and the date of the review of Santorini (Merrick) - the link to which I posted in this thread and I'll post again here:

              http://long-island.newsday.com/restau...

              If you go to GRK Market and get some haloumi - HIGHLY recomended pan seared or grilled - and maybe a piece of kasseri or graviera (the Greek gruyère), ask Theodore to make you a frappe coffee drink. You will NOT be dissapointed! ;-)

              1. re: Gastronomos
                e
                emarcus Apr 18, 2013 09:55 AM

                Gastronomos, would you mind sharing your email so I can contact you offline? Thanks.

                1. re: emarcus
                  Gastronomos Apr 18, 2013 10:41 AM

                  Surely, Alexander The Greek Gastronomos at G mail dot com - for anything chowhound you might need... :-)

            2. Gastronomos Mar 27, 2013 06:56 AM

              Forgot to mention Zaro's Cafe on Jericho in South Huntington. It is that forgettable.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gastronomos
                mcf Mar 27, 2013 07:39 AM

                We used to do take out often from Zaro's until several years ago. Really liked the proprietors, but slippage became way too consistent a problem.

              2. e
                emarcus Mar 26, 2013 10:19 AM

                Limani is purely not Greek? It's wildly expensive, but I've found it to be one of the best and most authentic Greek restaurants on LI. (Full disclosure: I've not been there in the last two years.)

                Most of those other places you mentioned are working in a Greek-American idiom (which can be good, of course) but really none of them approximate the experience of eating in Greece...

                We've found that Turkish restaurants are often better bets than Greek because patrons tend to be first-generation immigrants and still appreciate the foodways of the old country. Very few Greek places make their own gyro meat, almost all the Turkish places do.

                And what passes for horiatiki in most Greek restaurants on LI: A shonda!

                7 Replies
                1. re: emarcus
                  Gastronomos Mar 26, 2013 03:12 PM

                  Thanks. I have to agree with you. Mostly because you are correct. Or because you are mostly correct. These places, well, they are “a shonda!” I understand how this has come about. I don't necessarily agree, but the business owner is faced with serving a cuisine basically still unknown to the American public and making it “comfortable” for them to understand or cooking his/her homelands cuisine and trashing it if it doesn’t sell (at least in their eyes that is the outcome). The only other option is to do as everyone else does and make a large tray of mousaka or pastitsio and freeze it and microwave a portion to order, BLECH! The “Greek-American idiom” in which they do business doesn’t allow for patrons to enjoy Greek cuisine as they do in Flushing or Astoria. These big box greek diners we have everywhere do a good job of it, and prove that it is strictly a for-profit business and not about introducing their cuisine as much as putting *something* from their home country on the menu in a comfortable and understandable manner for people to actually buy it. Romanian steak by those that owned and operated these diners before the Greeks did is a good example, and one that has also lost all reference to Romanians and WHY it’s Romanian steak.

                  Q: “Is it pronounced Gyro or Yee-ro?”
                  A: “Give me about $7 and call it whatever you like.”

                  I will try to keep this Long Island central and not venture into Queens or Manhattan for this discussion.

                  The Greek on Park in Massapequa Park makes a stacked house style gyro type of concoction, but it isn’t like it’s “Greek” or anything.

                  As for the turkish, well, their dietary laws don’t allow them to go the route that the Greeks have. Pork feeds the world Mario Batali said, when asked if Italian meatballs in Italy are made of beef or pork.

                  “…working in a Greek-American idiom (which can be good, of course)…”

                  CAN BE is maybe the operative phrase here. Unfortunately, as you write, this isn’t often the case. So, for the non-immigrant Greek, Greek-American, Philhelene, and non-Greek alike, many just lean to turkish, if there isn’t a choice. Lebanese anyone? …

                  As for Limani. Well, it’s a GREAT place. Expensive and successful. More power to them! I am happy that along with MP Taverna Greek cuisine is rising above commercially made donkey meat gyros and doner kabaps.

                  Sunday brunch aside, is there anything at Limani other than Grilled fish that you can recommend as being Greek? I like the yogurt they serve. Very tangy. Outside of that and the grilled fish, I, personally, haven’t had the pleasure of “Greek” food done in a “Greek style”. Authenticity may be overrated, but at least an attempt. The “casseroles” “one pot dishes” or whatever we can call them that are Greek cuisine are really not good at Limani. They focus on the grilled fish.

                  I’m going to actually write this, knowing I am going to get a LOT of heat for it, but here goes. I am not a fan of the food served at many catering halls on LI. Some is good, most is not. That said, I attended a catered affair at the Chateau Briand on Old Country Road and the Mousaka served at the cocktail hour hit the nail on the head. It was not an authentic recipe by far. It was an honest and earnest attempt that will continue to win accolades from me for years to come. It had all the components of a mousaka and the ‘hyperdeliciousness’ that any authentic recipe should have. I could eat that everyday and never tire of it.

                  I know that through your travels throughout the Peloponese that you have encountered fish in coastal villages and a lack of fish in the mountains. Please do not misunderstand me here. In Greece today, Greeks, when they dine out may often order a simple grilled fish and a side of boiled dark leafy greens and maybe some fried potatoes despite all the other traditional food offerings a restaurant or taverna may have. This, due to reasons beyond this discussion, has become ubiquitous throughout Greece. But, do we take into account that grilled fish is one of the least eaten foods in Greek homes? It is for sure prepared at home, grilled and otherwise, but, just like the old Italian-American places that have a menu full of veal this and veal that, when eating out are you going to order noodles? Probably not, if you eat that (or any dish) at home daily. AND if your mom/wife/grandma makes it “better” than what anyone else makes. Just as Italian tomato sauce, gravy, lasagna, ziti, etc. “my mom’s is the ONLY one I eat.”

                  As for horiatiki, well, a $7 Greek salad, iceberg or romaine is still more profitable than a tomato salad that with the same profit margin would have a price tag upwards of $20. And that is for those pale mealy tomatoes that we all abhor.

                  I am a little befuddled at the attempt by some patrons though to make an American style meal of a menu that doesn’t make sense and order a large slab (brick) of spanakopita as an appetizer and proceed to a large gyro platter or mousaka or pastitsio as a main, then dessert. It can be done. MP Taverna makes a good attempt with the lunch specials. But these gyro joints are not the place for that.

                  I’m not really looking for a miracle here. Maybe a good chicken souvlaki? Maybe a good sandwich with Greek ingredients? One place, one item? Perhaps a place that sautéed a good dish. I don’t know, that is why I asked.

                  Peace

                  P.S. Sorry for the dissertation. I just realized how much I wrote above. ;-)

                  1. re: Gastronomos
                    j
                    jpf1980 Mar 26, 2013 04:11 PM

                    please don't reply to me with an 8 page report, i really don't have the energy to read so much for something that is supposed to be fun. Maybe you are too serious and can't get yourself to enjoy something. Anyway, my favorite place for several years was the name of your topic. "It's Greek to Me" in Syosset on Jackson Ave. I moved to the south shore in 2010 and haven't been back.

                    1. re: jpf1980
                      Gastronomos Mar 26, 2013 04:44 PM

                      Thank you for the reply.

                      What on the menu did you enjoy?

                      http://itsgreektomeny.com/menu

                      :-)

                      1. re: Gastronomos
                        j
                        jpf1980 Mar 26, 2013 07:02 PM

                        It is hard for me to rememeber for sure, because many times i was there i had something from the nightly specials menu. But some more obvious things are there: Gyro, Lamb Souvlaki(as i typed this i'm remembering that i really liked this one), the grilled octopus, actually their pita was good, they put spices on it which i don't know if that is less authentic or something, but i remember just their straight pita was better then other place. spanakopita, keftedes, i don't see it on their menu so maybe it was a special, but i remember enjoying their lamb shanks several times. I wish I can say i tried their baba-ganoush but i've only fell in love with that in the last 2 years or so. They also have a damn good baklava. Any time i had fish i liked it. Also, their dining room is a step up from most "gyro joints" Not saying it is fancy or anything, but it's not blue and white. By the way, I had Gyroliscious tonight in East Meadow, my third time i think in the 3 years i've lived in East Meadow, and i remembered why i haven't had it in well over a year.

                        1. re: jpf1980
                          Gastronomos Mar 26, 2013 07:50 PM

                          Thank you. This sounds like a place I should try the lamb souvlaki or one of the specials.

                          Sorry to hear you had to return to Gyrolicious to find out it has gone way down hill.

                          The husband and wife team that bought it a few years back and renovated it had some good food and were trying to make it a good place. Too bad the place failed. I don't know if they sold it or who owns it now. I liked the chicken souvlaki they made. Extra careful to make sure it was juicy and not overcooked and traditionally marinated (even tho chicken souvlaki is not traditional in Greece)

                          :-)

                  2. re: emarcus
                    Gastronomos Mar 28, 2013 06:55 PM

                    Perhaps a more simple reply,

                    Neraki in Huntington is a more 'accessible' version of Limani in Roslyn. The owner tells me he faces customers asking for gyros. He explains that this is an 'authentic' Greek restaurant and some customers are upset and some walk out. "What Greek restaurant doesn't serve gyros?" He claims is their question.

                    I have encountered turkish places serving commercial gyros, 'doner kabobs', different source maybe than Kronos or whatever, but not house made. More and more Greek fast food places are making their own gyros.

                    Maybe they also make a tasty house made souvlaki? Or something else that is interesting?

                    Thanks. :-)

                    1. re: emarcus
                      Gastronomos Apr 15, 2013 07:54 AM

                      http://long-island.newsday.com/restau...

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