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Yērōs authentically greek opens in St. James

The General gyro stuffed with spit-roasted pork, lamb,

The General gyro stuffed with spit-roasted pork, lamb, chicken and beef at yerōs authentically greek in St. James. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

Maybe you felt silly the first time you tried to say gyro the way it's pronounced in Greek: yee-ro, which means "turning" or "spinning." The owners of a new spot in St. James decided to just roll with it, literally: brothers Dimitrios and John Koukounis opened yērōs authentically greek on May 17, and the place is filled with the aromas of roasting fat, garlic and herbs from the spit-roasted meats spinning in the kitchen.

The brothers, who are also contractors, took over the North Country Road space that formerly held Premier Pastry Shop, transforming the place into a sleek, modern takeout spot with two booths, a handful of outdoor tables and a menu that cinches together both authentic Greek dishes and a few with novel twists. "Their dad owned Greek takeout places in both Greece and Germany when they were younger, and so they were brought up in the food business," said consultant George Ntourmas, a member of their extended family. When COVID hit last year and construction dried up, Ntourmas said the Koukounises began mulling a food business. "They gutted the entire place, literally building it with their hands."

On yērōs' menu, traditional dishes such as hummus, spanakopita, grilled octopus, Greek-style salads, gyros (of course) and souvlaki on a stick give way to the more authentic and unusual, such as zucchini eggplant chips, fried moussaka and pastitsio bites (much in the manner of mac-and-cheese bites) or shrimp saganaki. Spreads and sides start at $6.95, soups and salads at $5.95 and appetizers such as grilled octopus, grilled shrimp of feta kebobs begin at $7.95.

Another of-the-moment twist are bowls that layer quinoa, rice pilaf or brown rice with souvlaki or gyro meat plus chickpeas, feta, beets, tzatziki and about a dozen other add-ons, and begin at $12. Crowning the sandwich list is The General, a gyro stuffed with four kinds of shaved meat and fries, for $13.57; if there is still room for dessert, baklava and Greek-style frappes beckon.

Ntourmas pointed out that there is a takeout window for to-go orders, but those who pick up their food inside might be tempted by another option: Greek cookies and groceries that are for sale in a miniature market along one wall. "Living in Suffolk County, it's very difficult for us to find the traditional products that we were able to find in Astoria," Ntourmas said. "We thought it would be nice to bring market flair to where people live. We'll gradually add more and more items."

yērōs authentically greek opens daily at 11 a.m. (and Sundays at 12 p.m.) at 429 Rte. 25A, St. James. 631-980-9376

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