The word "dumpling" doesn't quite do justice to the pouf of ricotta and air dissolving on my tongue. It mingles with bits of spicy lamb sausage, sun-dried tomato and spinach. A surprise crunch of bread crumb, a subtle jolt of citrus. Could this be what's served on Mount Olympus?
It's definitely what's dished out at the new MP Taverna, the attractive bi-level gastro pub of Michelin star chef Michael Psilakis. Psilakis, a native of East Northport, found fame in Manhattan. Now he returns to Long Island bearing gifts: a vision of Greek cuisine at once elevated and casual. And prices that are down to earth.
FOOD OF THE GODS
To begin, there's supernal octopus, tender and lemony, over a Mediterranean chickpea salad. I have an OMG moment tasting meatballs in a sprightly tomato, olive and onion sauce. Loukaniko (spicy Greek sausage) has smoky piquancy, citrus notes. Heralding the end of the boring salad is a tangle of young greens and dried fruits (dates, apricots, cherries and pears) punctuated by smoked almonds and manouri cheese.
A "simply grilled" pork chop actually has been cured, rubbed with lemon zest, slow roasted and dressed with lemon vinaigrette. It's amazing. Lovely roasted lemon chicken is made with fresh dill and garlic; branzino, delicate and light, gets a vibrant kick from cherry tomatoes and olives. I fall hard for the chargrilled lamb burger, crusty, juicy, herbal. A braised lamb shank with orzo and root vegetables is homey stuff.
Yes, I have room for dessert. Especially if it's the ethereal apple baklava. Or the galaktoboureko parfait topped with fruit and shredded phyllo. Or the insanely rich chocolate brownie made with halvah and chunks of dark chocolate.
A bonus: An intelligent, affordable wine list by the half glass, glass, half bottle and bottle.
FOOD OF MERE MORTALS
Bread is fresh and crusty but lacks depth of flavor; a skate wing special is very good but no more. And I wish for a way to turn down the noise level.
Welcome back Psilakis.