2009-02-18 / Restaurant of the Week

PL AKA GREEK ESTIATORIO

This lovely Greek eatery, or estiatorio, is conveniently located in the Jackson Heights shopping center on 31st Avenue and provides the perfect backdrop for a post-shopping dinner, to stay or to go, or a relaxing meal with friends and family. Your charming hosts, Anna and Alex Theodoropoulos make you feel at home as you unwind in the comfortable dining room.

 
Whitewashed walls are adorned with blue shutters dressed in lace and Hellenic artifacts. Sturdy wood tables covered in white and blue linens rest on rustic wood floors. For your convenience, free delivery is now available.

Plaka's menu offers a wide variety of meat, fish and seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes to please everyone. Halal meat is available now as well, for your dietary needs. Skilled chefs and grill men prepare each and every dish on the spot in the open kitchen at the front of the restaurant. A refrigerated case shows off fine meats and the fresh catches of the day, which include red snapper, porgy, sea bass and striped bass. The lamb chops look good enough to eat raw. Order a carafe of the house wine.

 
Start with some of Plaka's savory appetizers, both hot and cold. Fresh rings of calamari are breaded and fried till golden brown,

served with wedges of lemon and a zesty tomato sauce, scented with a touch of cinnamon. Saganaki is a slab of pan fried Greek haloumi cheese, served sizzling hot and finished with a touch of flaming brandy ($8.00). A squeeze of lemon enhances the flavor of this mouth-watering cheese. Creamy dips, such as melitzanosalata (eggplant), taramosalata (caviar), and revithosalata (chick peas), are heavenly when spread on thick slices of warm bread. Handmade meatballs, called keftedes are mildly spiced and great for sharing. Avgolemono soup is traditional chicken, egg and lemon soup and really hits the spot. Share one of their fresh, crunchy salads, such as horiatiki, loaded with juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and olives ($9). Classic Caesar or Greek salads make a great lunch too.

 

Main courses at Plaka include the best ingredients from the sea and land. Tender baby lamb chops, called paidakia, are served sizzling hot from the charcoal grill and practically melt in your mouth. Juicy pork chops, rib-eye steak and tiny quails are all cooked to order and served hot. Shish kebab is one of their specialties, made with marinated pork or chicken. Another house favorite is the half grilled chicken and baby back ribs ($21) or the half roasted lemon chicken ($13). Both these dishes are great to take home too. Greek style hamburger called bifteki is seasoned with herbs and grilled. All meat entrées are served with your choice of rice, their addictive lemon roasted potatoes, or horta, which are sautéed dandelion greens.

 
Plaka prides itself on serving the freshest fish and seafood each day. Indeed my dining companion and I shared a whole red snapper, grilled to perfection and drizzled with olive oil and lemon to release all the natural flavor and juices of this flaky fish. Tender octopus and calamari can be grilled similarly and enjoyed as an entrée or shared as an appetizer. Simple, grilled shrimp are tender and plump, or you can choose to have them stuffed with clams and bread crumbs. Pasta dishes include shrimp "Plaka" which are sautéed in Greek liqueur called ouzo, tomatoes and feta cheese, served atop a mound of linguine ($22.50). Linguini with white clam sauce rivals those in many Italian restaurants ($15).

A special lunch menu is served from 11am to 3pm. Choose among the classic Gyro sandwich or platter. Chicken or pork souvlaki can also be heaped onto pita bread or served as a platter with rice or potatoes. The chicken wrap with Greek salad makes an ideal lunch, as do their crunchy salads, made on the spot and ready for delivery or to eat in.

Desserts at Plaka are special too, with baklava, dripping with honey and nuts, or rich golden cake sweetened with honey. Enjoy a rich cup of coffee, cappuccino or espresso to finish off your meal nicely. Plaka Estiatorio is a great place, in the neighborhood to enjoy a quiet dinner for two or a large family meal. They will happily arrange for your private party so start planning your springtime events now. The food is fresh and flavorful and the service is friendly and efficient. Yasoo!

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