Up until now, Nassau has had the monopoly on sprawling, ambitious Greek restaurants. (Actually, Roslyn has the monopoly. The town, population 2,770, is home to Kyma, Limani and MP Taverna.) But on Friday, Suffolk launched its own bid for Greek culinary dominance.
Ara Greek Kitchen & Bar has taken up residence in the 250-seat restaurant that used to be Tony Roma’s.
Leading the kitchen is executive chef Chris Bisiotis, a native of the Greek Peloponnese who, since he emigrated to the United States, has worked for Thomas Keller (at Per Se), Mario Batali (at Eataly), Cristeta Comerford (at the White House) and launched the TriBeCa restaurant The Greek.
For Ara, Bisiotis has blended his Greek taste memories with the techniques he’s learned since he left home. His saganaki (pan-fried Graviera cheese) is paired with lemon compote and thyme; Haloumi cheese finds its way onto a toast with Granny Smith apple, pomegranate and mint.
He is also bent on satisfying the bottomless Long Island demand for pizza and pasta with a roster of pies made with Greek flavors such as gyro (spit-roasted beef with grilled red onion, tomato and tzatziki) spanakopita (spinach, scallion, dill, feta and ricotta) and the self-explanatory Greek salad pie. His six pasta dishes include seafood hilopites, squares of fresh egg pasta with shrimp, mussels and clams.
Mains tend to be more classic: whole grilled lavraki (branzino), braised lamb shank on orzo, pork chops with lemon potatoes. Prices for most starters, salads and pizzas are $11 to $15; mains range from $23 to $40 (for a mixed grill of sausage, lamb chops and chicken); platters of gyro, souvlaki and burgers are $16 to $14.
“Ara” is the Greek equivalent of the Italian “allora” (so, well then) and alludes to the Queens restaurant, Allora, that has the same owners. Steven and George Menexas used to operate the Tony Roma franchise in New York; both Ara and Allora have taken over former Tony Roma locations.
Ara Greek Kitchen & Bar, 2 Henry St., Commack, 631-360-8336, arakitchen.com.