Laterna For All Life's Celebration
F or all of life's celebrations, from an intimate dinner for two to a wedding celebration for 200, Laterna is your first choice in dining and catering. For the last 16 years, Laterna's owner Andy Moshopoulos and his lovely wife Eleftherias have worked tirelessly to offer superior Greek and Continental cuisine served in a lovely setting. The addition of live music F on the weekends adds a festive note and helps the party begin.
Conveniently located on Bell Blvd. in Bayside, Laterna's lovely French doors reveal the warm, European style dining room complete with tables dressed in linens and a glowing fireplace to warm you. Relax with a cocktail from the bar, or enjoy a bottle of Kouros Greek wine, a dry red that complemented the meal beautifully. The efficient wait staff will bring warm crusty bread while you peruse the menu, which features the best in fresh fish and seafood, meats, pasta and Greek specialties.
Greek cuisine is among my favorites and no one does classic Greek cuisine like the chefs at Laterna. Start with one of the hot appetizers ($8 and up) Barile such as tender grilled shrimp or grilled handmade sausage called "loukaniko". "Keftedes" are Greek style meatballs, seasoned with herbs and spices that taste wonderful. It had been years since I had sweetbreads and Laterna's are really the best. These tender glands are cooked to perfection and have a rich, wonderful flavor that is complemented by a squeeze of lemon. You should also try the mouthwatering, pan fried cheese called "saganaki", served bubbling hot and so delicious when placed on a hunk of bread with a squeeze of lemon. Their grilled octopus is uniquely tender and succulent, sprinkled with tangy balsamic vinegar dressing. The cold eggplant dip, called "melitzanosalata" was full of roasted eggplant, onion, red pepper and parsley and went very well on triangles of warm pita bread. If you can't decide what to order, then try the mixed grill and the cold dip platter for the table and have a taste of everything. Avgolemono soup is traditional chicken soup with chunks of vegetables in a lemony chicken broth that will take the chill out of a winter night.
Laterna serves only the finest fish and seafood, all cooked to order. Garides Mikrolimano are plump, tender shrimp cooked with fresh tomatoes, garlic and herbs in a delicate sauce, topped with crumbled feta cheese. From the charcoal grill comes a whole red snapper, porgy or branzino, prepared simply with lemon oil and the finest olive oil and cooked perfectly so that the white, flaky fish is juicy, delicious and comes easily off the bone. Flaky fried codfish is served with skordalia, a creamy garlic dip that is out of this world. A crunchy Greek salad is the perfect accompaniment, and everything is meant to be shared and enjoyed.
One of my favorite traditional Greek dishes is the "giouvetsi" (pronounced yoo-vet-see). Two tender lamb shanks are stewed for hours and served with orzo in a mildly seasoned tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon that I find irresistible. Layered moussaka and pastitsio, a type of baked pasta dish, are delicious here too. Lamb shish kebob, marinated and skewered with fresh tomatoes, green peppers and onions is a real crowd pleaser, or order one with chicken, the kid's favorite. "Ortikia" are whole quails, marinated in herbs and chargrilled till crispy ($15). Meat lovers will enjoy the tender filet mignon, aged shell steak and juicy, baby lamb chops. By ordering "Pikilia Skaras" for two people, you'll get a sampling of lamb chops, loukaniko sausages, sheftalia, sweetbreads and grilled chicken with French fries for $39. Pasta dishes are available as well, such as Aegean pasta, with grilled chicken, fresh tomato, broccoli and carrots and extra virgin olive oil. Linguine is topped with shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and black olives ($20).
Laterna is both a lovely restaurant and a top-notch caterer, with enough sit-down room for 200 people in the rear, and 100 up front. A central bandstand accommodates the musical entertainment of your choice for your private affair and the professional staff will decorate the room with coordinated linens and ornaments to suit your taste. When there isn't a private party in progress, the main dining room offers live Greek music on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 9pm and at 6pm on Sundays. There is no additional charge for the music and this is a great way to enjoy a meal with friends and family. Reserve space now for your next family or business function and leave the rest to Andy.
Laterna Family Restaurant, Bar and Caterer is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from noon until 10pm on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. Celebrate all of life's celebrations at Laterna. The food, décor and service are all excellent and you will be made to feel very welcomed here. Yasoo!