Whether the draw is a creamy roe dip or a comforting moussaka, whole char-grilled fish or lemony chicken -- or all of the above -- these Greek restaurants are reliable favorites. Selections by Peter M. Gianotti and Joan Reminick.
Opa Grille, Williston Park: For those who judge a Greek restaurant by its taramasalata (pictured), know that chef-owner George Labos makes a roe dip with just the right briny depth. There's also no fault to be found in the flaky spinach pie. Classic and comforting are both moussaka — layers of eggplant, ground beef and potatoes — and pastitsio, the Greek version of lasagna made with ground beef and ziti, each topped with a rich béchamel. To finish: The sweet, flaky baklava or the rich phyllo-wrapped pudding known as galaktoboureko. Or both.
Kyma, Roslyn: The emphasis is seafood, and you'll find the display of fish and shellfish on ice a glistening focal point. Very tender grilled octopus is an exceptional opener, as is calamari, stuffed with Greek cheeses, and shrimp saganaki, in a savory stew of tomatoes, herbs and mature feta. Char-grilled whole fish are excellent, as are marinated, skewered cuts of moist, tasty swordfish. The menu also sports fantastic salads, including a classic horiatiki (tomato with sweet onions, cucumbers, green bell peppers and Kalamata olives) and maroulasalata (hearts of romaine, scallions and Arahova feta). Top non-seafood entrees include baked lamb shank with orzo and tomato sauce; a chunky, meaty moussaka; and roasted chicken spiked with oregano, served with lemony potatoes.
Athena, Amityville: This veteran "country-Greek" eatery is a refreshing reminder of the simple and the good. A hearty opener is the sweet sausage sauteed with garlic, wine, mushrooms and tomatoes. And there's flaky spanakopita (pictured). These preliminaries lead to that excellent moussaka of eggplant, potato, meat and tomato sauces, under a cloud of béchamel; the vegetarian version also is recommended. Likewise, a combo of veal and sausage, hunter-style. Conclude with either baklava or the tall apricot cake with coconut icing.
Grillmark, Albertson: This is that rare restaurant you can feel good about frequenting more than once a week: Surroundings are sleek, prices moderate and the menu skews healthy. All skewers are recommended, though particularly good is the swordfish (pictured). Also: house-made chicken and pork gyros, salmon kale salad with quinoa and avocado, baklava, rice pudding.
Yevma Authentic Greek Cuisine
Yevma, East Meadow: This ambitious restaurant features an attractive dining space, a display of imported groceries and solid Greek cuisine. The excellence of the food is clear from the moment you sink your teeth into the grilled octopus (pictured): Bathed in extra-virgin olive oil, it's exceptionally meaty and tender, subtly smoky. Other fine starters include the taramasalata (whipped roe spread) and kalamakia (grilled pork); to get an overview of the menu, try the pikilia Kreaton, a mixed grill for two. And finish with kormo (brandy-spiked chocolate cake).
Limani, Roslyn: Opulent and extravagant, Limani is a grand setting for very fresh seafood and Greek specialties. Whole, charcoal-grilled fish for two include fagri, similar to pink snapper; red snapper; and black sea bass. They're rivaled by grilled Arctic char, Dover sole and halibut. The raw bar is very good, as are the grilled calamari and seppie. The carnivorous should be satisfied with lamb chops and porterhouse steak. Notable starters include kolokiphi, fried zucchini and eggplant chips (pictured); saganaki, or pan-fried kefalograviera cheese; grilled octopus; grilled sardines; and grilled or fried calamari. Try the Greek yogurt with thyme, honey and walnuts.
Ethos, Great Neck: Ethos focuses on Greek fare, carefully prepared. The kitchen sends out fine char-grilled octopus (pictured), grilled haloumi cheese, spanakopita (spinach-feta pie) and zesty loukaniko sausage. Tsipoura (royal dorado), swordfish, tiger shrimp and charcoal-grilled Maine lobster highlight the seafood. You'll also enjoy the rib-eye steak with fried potatoes and the roasted chicken with lemon-scented spuds. Ethos offers a savory cheese course with manouri, kefalograviera, feta, metsovone and, going beyond the isles, Gorgonzola. Karidopita, or walnut cake, and baklava top the desserts.
Hellenic Snack Bar
Hellenic Snack Bar, East Marion: The indoor-outdoor restaurant serves a wide variety of Greek specialties, as well as all the burgers, sandwiches and breakfast items you'd expect from a Greek diner. Also: an enviable selection of both local and Greek wines. Lesser-known Greek dishes such as fava (split-pea puree), yigantes (stewed giant lima beans) and lamb youvetzi (braised lamb shank) are done with care and pride.
Neraki Greek Mediterranean Grill, Huntington: Chef and co-owner Alex Moschos's menu is market driven, with the house specialty a whole fish. You owe it to yourself to try the smoky octopus and loukaniko (Greek sausage), as well as the spinach pie, lemony chicken souvlaki (pictured) and moist Greek meatballs. House-made fries (actually thin potato chips) are appealing accompaniments, and a fine finish is galaktoboureko, a phyllo-wrapped vanilla pudding.
Alexandros, Mount Sinai: Greek cuisine, with its seafood emphasis and grilled steaks, make Alexandros a Mediterranean surf-and-turfer. The homey restaurant also excels with spreads made with roe, eggplant, or potatoes and garlic, as well as stuffed grape leaves; and main dishes including moussaka, pastitsio and giouvetsi, or baked lamb. Grilled whole fish highlight the seafood, along with cuts of swordfish, tuna and salmon; filet mignon, rib eye, New York strip and porterhouse steaks, the beef. Tender lamb chops, too. Baklava, rice pudding and galaktoboureko, or custard in phyllo with honey, lead the sweets. (Pictured: horiatiki, a Greek country salad.)
MP Taverna, Roslyn: Chef Michael Psilakis puts an inventive spin on Greek cuisine at his bi-level gastro pub, which, since opening, has spawned two metro-area spinoffs. Virtually every dish is a standout, from the tender, lemon-kissed octopus to the supernal meatballs in tomato and olive sauce to a salad of dried fruits, cheese and young greens. Ethereal dumplings with lamb sausage are punctuated by the crunch of bread crumbs and a subtle jolt of citrus. If you've never had a lamb burger, this one (pictured) is juicy and herbal enough to make you a convert. Conclude with apple baklava, galaktoboureko parfait or the opulent chocolate brownie made with halvah.