Black Friday. Malls. Crowds. Turkey leftovers. These are just four of the reasons to visit Athéna. Next month, there will be at least as many. Find your own reason or excuse. In the middle of holiday frenzy, economic doldrums, or both, this veteran "country- Greek" eatery is a refreshing reminder of the simple and the good. Besides, you can get in and out in a hurry.
Athéna has been preparing moussaka for almost two decades. It's a storefront housed in the studiously anonymous Amity Mall, on the south side, west of Route 110. Details provided because the eatery is easy to miss. Inside, the place is light, pale-hued and decorated with fragments of Greek-style reliefs. No re-creation of the Parthenon, no poster of Santorini. Seats: about 40. Just in case, they do a lot of takeout, too.
Athéna sends out the familiar Greek spreads, each flavorful and light, ready to be slathered on warm triangles of pita bread. Taramosalata, with carp roe; and baba ghanoush, eggplant with garlic and tahini, are especially tasty. For a heartier opener, try sweet sausage sauteed with garlic, wine, mushrooms and tomatoes. And there's tasty, flaky spanakopita, the spinach-and-feta production baked in phyllo. Avgolemono, the basic chicken soup with lemon juice, also is straightforward and satisfying. Greek salad, with and without anchovies, is well made. These preliminaries lead to that excellent moussaka of eggplant, potato, meat and tomato sauces, under a cloud of béchamel. The vegetarian version, sparked with feta, also is recommended. Likewise, lamb shish kebab. Or consider a huskier main dish: a combo of veal and sausage, hunter-style. Conclude with either baklava or the tall apricot cake with coconut icing.
Too-sweet chicken with orange-ginger sauce. Standard tilapia with tomatoes and feta. Falafel balls are dry; saganaki, overdone. Dull pita pitsas, with cheese and vegetables.
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