Grilled lamb chops at Blue Waters Mediterranean Cuisine, a new...

Grilled lamb chops at Blue Waters Mediterranean Cuisine, a new Greek restaurant in North Bellmore. Credit: Newsday/Scott Vogel

How Blue Waters Mediterranean Cuisine came to be such a good Greek restaurant is something of a mystery, one that only deepens when you hear it’s the brainchild of a 27-year-old Ecuadorian émigré who until a decade ago had never even eaten Greek food.

“I learned everything here, from the bottom to the top,” said Diego Vintimilla, leaning over a chair in his tiny North Bellmore dining room. “I started as a busser at high-end restaurants” — the year was 2013 and the restaurants were Limani and Kyma — “and I just fell in love with Greek food. I became a runner, then a barback, then a bartender, then a server.”

And then, as of last March, an owner, having completely overhauled a space on Jerusalem Avenue, turning a criminally small takeout-only eatery into one with a dining room whose tightly packed tables seat 40. Thanks to attractive pricing (including three-course prix fixe deals for $18 at lunch, $29 at dinner), an everyman ethos (“my idea was to make this a place where anybody can come, not certain people or ones with special occasions”) and his penchant for surprising guests with free slices of Greek yogurt cheesecake topped by sour cherry sauce (“it’s homemade … we import the yogurt”), Vintimilla has begun to build a happy band of regulars.

Blue Waters impresses with its starters and small plates, from luscious tranches of spinach pie swirled with leeks and feta and enrobed in crispy brown phyllo dough ($15), to beefsteak tomato rounds drizzled with olive oil and topped by slices of charcoal-charred halloumi ($15), to formidable nuggets of vinegary grilled octopus ($20), to orzo-packed bowls of avgolemono soup ($8), its lemony goodness thick enough to stand a spoon in. 

Vintimilla’s lemon potatoes are a boon to every entree they accompany, which is most of them (if not, side orders are available for $8). Equal parts soft, buttery and citrusy, the canoe-shaped spuds play well with roasted whole branzino, also soft-buttery-citrusy  ($28). The same is true of the $22 well-bronzed roast chicken, and if the grilled lamb rib chops aren’t exactly a bargain at $33, their size, succulence and sourcing earn their cost. Indeed, Vintimilla’s choices with regard to everything from olive oil to oregano show a judiciousness beyond his years, proving that while he might be a newbie restaurateur, the business is hardly, well, Greek to him.

Blue Waters Mediterranean Cuisine, 2449 Jerusalem Ave., N. Bellmore, 516-490-5055, bluewaterscuisine.com. Open Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday- Saturday 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.

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