The long-awaited Oniro Taverna opened on Saturday night, May 5 and, with its sleek Aegean design and fish-centric menu, it looks ready to triumph over the Woodbury location that has defeated two former tenants. Of course it helps that the restaurant’s owners, Christos Spyropoulos and John Alciviades, are also two of the partners who own Limani in Roslyn. When Limani opened in 2008, it instantly raised the bar for Long Island fish restaurants and has remained a leader in that category every since.
The low-slung building on Jericho Turnpike, just east of Woodbury Road, has had a troubled few years. Majors, the moderately priced steakhouse, had a long run, but it lost its lease in 2014. The property’s owner, Richard Monti (who also owns the adjacent Crest Hollow Country Club), replaced it first with a P.J. Clarke’s franchise and then with the Napa-themed Honig Grill.
Shortly after Honig Grill closed in November, Limani announced that it was opening a Woodbury satellite. Limani Taverna, said a member of the management team, “will be more casual with a lower price point.” Awnings went up. And then they came down. Earlier this year, drivers-by saw a new set of awnings, bearing the name Oniro Taverna.
“Oniro” is Greek for “dream,” and Spyropoulos said that it was his dream to expand the reach and reputation of Greek cuisine. “Taverna” signifies a more casual, less expensive establishment and, indeed, Oniro Taverna lacks the formality and stratospheric prices that characterize Limani.
There are no tablecloths here. The bleached wooden table tops are one of innumerable design elements that convey a sense of the natural world, along with live (though small) orange and olive trees, a room divider made of slim birch trunks and basket-weave chandeliers. The dining room has three areas (main, mezzanine and veranda) and the lounge has a bar, small tables for intimate conversation, a communal table for mingling and a fireplace. Everything is done in shades of oyster and bark. Suffice it to say that the new décor, by Anastasios Gliatis, banishes all traces of Majors, not to mention its short-lived successors.
As at Limani, the focal point of the dining room is the display of whole fish on ice. The regular menu lists eight, among them: red snapper ($30), Dover sole ($39), lavraki (branzino, $30) and tsipoura (orata, $29). Also from the sea are lobster pasta with squid-ink linguine (market price), sesame-crusted tuna on pea puree ($29) and many more fish and shellfish mains. Meat eaters can chose among roast chicken with mushrooms ($25), lamb chops ($39), steaks ($38 and up) and a Greek burger with fresh-cut fries ($20). There’s an extensive roster of starters ($9 to $19) and a raw bar. The kitchen is under the direction of chef de cuisine George Nikitopoulos.
Oniro Taverna’s general manager Chris Giorgou (who was one of the owners of Trata in Roslyn and East Hampton, both now closed) said that the menu combines classic Greek cuisine with innovative dishes such as grilled salmon over truffled cauliflower puree, or smoked mackerel with red quinoa and caper leaves.
The wine list encompasses 60 bottles, all Greek. Bottled beers are also Greek, but the six taps are devoted to Long Island brews.
In other Limani-related news, co-owner Spyropoulos (who is also a partner in Limani Rockefeller Center) has bought the Roslyn building that was, until March, Barto. Since the restaurant is essentially across the street from Limani, the new concept, he said, will emphatically not be Greek. Other than that he aims to open this summer, he had no more details to share.
8289 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, 516-367-8250, onirotaverna.com
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified one of the owners of Oniro Taverna. John Alciviades is the correct owner.