Glistening with lemon and olive oil, a chargrilled octopus tentacle curls seductively on the plate. It's served uncut, as it should be, awaiting knife and fork. One bite tells the story: meaty, tender, every bit as good as it looks.
It also says much about the potential at Aegean Grill, a neat little place with a counter on one side, floor-to-ceiling windows on the other. Even on cold nights, service is particularly warm.
You'll want to try the grilled calamari, almost as good as the octopus. But you may be let down by the cold pikilia, an assortment of dips and spreads, featuring a curiously bland taramasalata (roe dip) accompanied by a pretty good hummus, eggplant spread, feta and stuffed grape leaves. Spinach pie, despite its irregular shape, turns out to be irresistible. Hearty lentil soup is a plus, as is citrusy lemon chicken soup with rice. A shame it has slopped out of the bowl and onto the pita in the saucer beneath. A respectable, if over-chilled Greek salad, like the soup, is gratis with most entrees.
Something you don't find at every Greek restaurant is house-made Greek lamb and pork gyro, available as a sandwich or platter: Slices of marinated pork and lamb are stacked on a stick and rotisserie roasted, to be sliced off. The meat is moist, knowingly spiced. So, too, is the very good rotisserie-roasted chicken, best ordered with lemon potatoes. Lamb shank, softly stewed, is blanketed in a cinnamon-tinged tomato sauce. A shame it's lukewarm and plated with overcooked orzo.
Moussaka, a classic Hellenic layering of ground lamb, eggplant and béchamel, comes off as supremely comforting, but pastitsio, the Greek version of lasagna, is overcooked and underseasoned. Shrimp stuffed with spinach and feta, while good, is a bit overwhelmed by the assertive mix of greens and cheese.
To conclude, there's a first-rate galaktoboureko, phyllo-encased vanilla pudding. And ekmek, a wondrous mix of shredded wheat, honey syrup and freshly whipped cream, the specialty of chef-owner Alex Stathatos' sister, Barbara.
One would hope this promising newcomer will work out its kinks so that everything on the menu lives up to those finales.