Before Michael Psilakis opened up a succession of fabulous Greek restaurants in Manhattan and became the face of modern Hellenic cuisine, he ran a very good Italian restaurant, Ecco, in Garden City Park from 2001 to 2004. Now the Long Island native, who still lives in Franklin Square, is poised to cross back over the East River. He plans to open a casual, family-friendly Greek restaurant, M.P. Tavern, in Roslyn before Memorial Day.
Psilakis sees M.P. Tavern as the next step in his plan to “break ethnic barriers and bring Greek cuisine into the mainstream.“ The first step,” he said, “was to go to Manhattan and garner enough critical attention to get people to listen to me.” His first NYC restaurant, Onera (now closed), merged Greek flavors with inventive techniques and platings. Next, Anthos, was every inch the fancy Midtown restaurant—only Greek. Kefi, which opened in 2007, brought his food back down to earth.
With M.P. Tavern, Psilakis hopes to break out of his metropolitan shell and open a restaurant in the suburbs. “I want to do with my food what Italian-Americans did with Italian food. M.P. Tavern is all about bringing Greek food to the place where Americans will look at it as a regular dinner choice—you’re sitting around at home wondering where to eat tonight. There’s Italian, Asian … I want people to start to say, ‘let’s eat Greek.’”
“On Long Island,” he said, “life—and dining—revolves around the family. This is a place for families, priced for families.” Here's a look at the menu.
M.P. Tavern takes over the rebuilt location in Roslyn Village that used to be Mio (which burned down in 2008). That puts it around the block from one of Nassau County’s best Greek restaurants (Trata) and down the hill from the other (Limani). Psilakis had only nice things to say about his competitors. “I’ve been to all these restaurants and I think they’re great. We all have different takes on Greek food.”
What I want to know is how did Roslyn get so lucky?