Trodos, a restaurant named for the mountains of Cyprus, is drenched in the colors of the Mediterranean. Splashes of turquoise and white are accented by pops of yellow and red - platters of lemons and tomatoes set out on a communal table.
The food from the attractive open kitchen draws on the cuisines of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and the Middle East. It's geared toward a broad-based American clientele - not surprising, since the place is under the same ownership as the popular Ahyan's Shish Kebab and Fish Kebab restaurants.
At lunch, a vegetarian "energy platter" features crisp falafel (fried chickpea balls) drizzled with tahini sauce, creamy tahini-laced hummus (chickpea dip), a vibrant tabbouleh (parsley-packed cracked wheat salad) and sprightly shepherd's salad.
Dinner kicks off with tender, smoky grilled calamari with cucumber vinaigrette. A nicely plated assortment of cold dips stars a fine, briny taramasalata (cod roe), perky baba ghanoush (eggplant salad), hummus and stuffed grape leaves. I'm partial to the fried zucchini pancakes, rife with fresh dill.
Gyro is standard and good, sesame-crusted salmon crisp and, thankfully, not the least overcooked. I'm skeptical about a pal's choice of flounder stuffed with shrimp and crab, but it turns out to be a pleasing experience. There's comfort in the moussaka, a layering of eggplant, potato, lamb, beef and tomatoes capped with a sumptuous béchamel. Chicken kebabs are properly juicy, shrimp kebabs smoky and just done enough.
It's hard to resist the flaky, gooey baklava, whether walnut, pistachio or chocolate.
Grilled octopus tastes of nothing; it's slightly more flavorful on the next visit. A zestier marinade would also help the bland filet mignon kebabs. One of my favorite Greek desserts, galaktoboureko (phyllo over vanilla pudding) is a bit oily, kind of squished-looking.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
The "express" lunch, less than $10, includes soup or Greek salad, entree, rice and vegetables.
FOR MORE MARVELOUS MOUSSAKA
FOOD 1 1/2 stars
37 Great Neck Rd., Great Neck
At this well-appointed taverna where French doors open to the evening breeze, you'll find a light rendition of moussaka topped with a fluffy, rich béchamel sauce.
FOOD 1 1/2 stars
2601 Merrick Rd., Bellmore
At this informal Hellenic spot, fine moussaka is made with chopped beef, potatoes and eggplant crowned with a pillowy béchamel sauce.
FOOD 2 1/2 stars
257 Commack Rd., Commack
This little Greek eatery is all about well-prepared food at bargain prices. Here, the moussaka - a casserole of eggplant, potato, meat and béchamel - is both lush and savory.