When it comes to pandemic business perspectives, it’s all relative. While Long Island restaurants struggle with 50% dine-in capacity, New York City restaurants must abstain from indoor dining entirely. That’s why Lefteris Daskalopoulos was so happy to open Nisi Mediterranean in Melville in November.
"We have another restaurant in Manhattan," he said. "We opened last January on West 47th Street and were shut down two months later." Times Square restaurants, he said, were hit harder than those in other city neighborhoods. "All our customers were tourists or people going to the theater. There was no point even doing takeout."
Nisi takes over the space in the first floor of Melville’s Hilton Long Island that, since 2017, was occupied by Nanking, which served Indian-Chinese fusion. Nanking’s owner, Akbarali Himani, a fan of Greek food, was also an owner of Nisi (whose original location was on Bleecker Street before it decamped to Midtown). The restaurant’s décor has been scrubbed of its red-and-gold accents (as well as the huge Buddha the greeted customers at the threshold) and is now altogether more rustic and Hellenic.
Nisi, which means "island," is recognizably but not slavishly Greek. The menu features grilled octopus and spanakopita, Greek salad and lamb chops. But there are also twists on Greek staples — lamb moussaka spring rolls, a pastitsio made with seafood instead of ground meat — as well as dishes from around the Mediterranean such as mussels marinara, linguine with clam sauce, farro seafood "paella" and even a Moroccan-inspired lamb tagine. Starters range from $7 to $19; mains from $21 to $48 (for a 12-ounce rib-eye). A lunch menu offers $14.95 specials including a cheeseburger, a lamb burger and spicy fried chicken on a brioche.
Nisi is well equipped for takeout and plans to erect a tent in the capacious hotel parking lot come spring.
Nisi Mediterranean is at 598 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-454-6333, nisimelville.com.