There’s no more eloquent testament to the grace and refinement of true Greek cuisine than Herb & Olive Marketa, newly opened in Manhasset. In the space that long housed the Americanized Greek "taverna," Mykonos, Julia Petropoulos and her business partner, George Vatakis, have built a market-cafe that looks like it stepped out of the pages of [a mythical] Hellenic Decor magazine. The shelves and refrigerated cases highlight the very finest oils, vinegars, preserves, legumes and baked goods she could import; the menu demonstrates what a talented kitchen can do with them.
Petropoulos, who grew up in the restaurant business in Philadelphia, was passionate about food from a young age. During a five-year-stint in Greece where her husband had a job, she began the process of conception and, when the couple moved to Manhasset, she started building her dream. The front of the venue is dedicated to the market, with groceries, grab-and-go salads and sandwiches and cheeses and meats sliced to order. The back is a casual cafe, tastefully rustic with its whitewashed brick, marble and reclaimed wood.
In the kitchen is chef Michael Giannakis, the opening chef of Platia in Syosset (in 2016) and, before that, a veteran of corporate executive chef posts with the New York Islanders, Barclay Center’s 40/40 Club, Citi Field and New York University, as well as stints at the Manhattan restaurants Avra and Rao’s.
Herb & Olive serves breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, and while the menu focuses on Greece, other Mediterranean countries have made such valuable contributions as shakshuka (Middle eastern eggs poached in tomato-pepper sauce), a baguette with Spanish ham and Manchego cheese; and Spanish tortilla (a frittata of potatoes and onion) and cured meats.
Among the Greek treasures here are horiatiki (the lettuce-less salad that relies on tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and feta); phyllo pies stuffed with spinach, cheese and more, fava (the suave spread made not from fava beans but from split peas, loukaniko (orange-scented Greek sausage), grilled lamb chops, shrimp and octopus. Most items are served as small plates and most are well under $20. A wine list draws from Greece, Spain, Italy and France.
Herb & Olive is at 172 Plandome Rd., Manhasset, 516-439-5421.