The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
More than two years in the making, the newly opened Mazi in Riverhead rises from the ashes of Athens Grill, which was destroyed by fire in June of 2013. Mazi is the Greek word for "together," a nod to the neighbors and friends who united to help chef-owner John Mantzopoulos and his wife through difficult times. As Mantzopoulos tells it, the restaurant's industrial-looking decor, with ductwork and original brick from the early 1900s, represents strength, as does the black and steel grey color scheme. A plaque behind the bar depicts the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Right now, said Mantzopoulos, produce and most seafood is local. The menu -- more moderate in price than the one for Athens Grill -- draws on dishes from Greece and other Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. Mantzopoulos offers three varieties of house-made gyro, one with a traditional beef-lamb mix, another with chicken breasts and thighs and a third with pork. Gyro sandwiches on pita, Mantzopoulos said, are done the true Greek way, without lettuce but with tomatoes, tzatziki sauce and white onions ($9). While the entire menu isn't yet available, the restaurant's current repertoire features local whole grilled sea bream ($17), moussaka ($14), chicken Marsala featuring Murray's chicken in a from-scratch sauce made with roasted marrow bones ($18), three kinds of kebabs featuring a ground beef and lamb mixture shaped like sausages, one plain, one stuffed with yogurt, another filled with feta ($17), and a roster of pastas such as bucatini Bolognese and fettuccine or linguine with shrimp carbonara ($15 to $19).
Next year, there will be outdoor dining, but for now, said Mantzopoulos, the dining room is the focus.
Mazi is at 33 E. Main St., Riverhead, 631-740-9933