2009-07-29 / Restaurant of the Week

Oceano...is fresh from the sea!

O ceano is a beautiful eatery decorated in strokes of ocean blue accented by sea-inspired murals, hand painted chandeliers and tables dressed in crisp white and blue linens. Located on a breezy corner of Ditmars Blvd. and 35th Street, the restaurant's walls actually lift up to allow for al fresco dining indoors.

 

The menu represents the very best in Greek and Mediterranean fare, executed with a very unique touch, thanks to the new Greek owners, who took over the helm last February. There are some very pleasant surprises in the way this traditional cuisine is handled and a memorable meal is promised at Oceano.

My dining companion and I spread warm bread with homemade olive tapenade while Carlos, our professional waiter uncorked a bottle of crisp, dry white wine from Greece. Other vintages are available from Italy, Argentina, Chile and California, starting at $22 a bottle. The fully stocked bar offers your favorite cocktails and imported and domestic beers, served icy cold.

There are over two dozen appetizers to choose among, both hot and cold. Indeed one could make a meal by ordering a few "meze" and sampling the wonderful flavors of the fresh ingredients. Fresh, tender calamari is cut into rings and sautéed with a delicate sauce of tomato, onion, capers and delicate herbs. Feta Sousami is a hefty slice of feta cheese that has been encrusted in sesame seeds and pan fried, rendering the seeds crunchy and toasted, and the cheese warm and savory. The combination of flavors and textures was wonderful with its counterpart of cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and chopped, dried figs ($10). House made loukaniko, or Greek sausage, is grilled to perfection and perfect to share, as is the shrimp saganaki, sautéed with fresh tomato, garlic and melted feta cheese. To enhance your dining experience, each dish is beautifully presented on gleaming plates of differing shapes. Silverware is swiftly changed with each course, a clear sign of excellent service.

 
Salads at Oceano go beyond the traditional and offer something truly different to savor. Paximadi is a bright, refreshing summer salad composed of sliced peaches, plums and garden fresh tomato over a bed of tender arugula. What makes this salad extra special is that it is topped with chunks of fried feta cheese, house made croutons made from country wheat bread and dressed in lemon vinaigrette to marry all these flavors together. Bravo! A salad of couscous is laced with dried cranberries, onions, scallions, basil and diced feta with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Salads can be ordered in small or large portions for one or more and range in price from $7 to $11. The cool, marinated seafood salad features plump juicy shrimp, scallops and calamari tossed with chopped vegetables and a secret house dressing.

 
Main courses include the freshest fish and seafood on the market, juicy meats and chicken and traditional dishes such as moussaka and youvetsi, hearty lamb shank with orzo. The skilled

chef uses the charcoal grill to prepare whole fish with a delicious lemon and olive oil sauce that is drizzled on at your table. Because the fish is so fresh, it needs little else and varieties such as porgy, red snapper, sea bass and bronzini are often available. Grilled shrimp are prepared similarly and offer a generous portion. Swordfish cubes are marinated and laced onto skewers along with peppers, tomatoes and onions ($21.50). All fish and seafood dishes come with your choice of their delectable lemon potatoes, rice, French fries or fresh vegetables. Juicy lamb chops, sirloin and rib-eye steaks, as well as lamb or chicken shish kebabs are all prepared to order and served sizzling hot. Oceano's signature pasta dish combines juicy tiger shrimp with a light tomato sauce and a touch of ouzo, over al dente pasta.

 

All desserts are made on the premises, including flaky baklava, galaktobourekia, and thick, creamy yogurt topped with fresh fruit and honey. Oceano offers a 3-course prix fixe lunch for just $14.95 and there is free delivery in the area with a $15 minimum. Visit their Web site for the complete menu and more information.

Bask in the glory that is summer and enjoy an exquisite Mediterranean meal along with cool breezes and excellent service. Visit Oceano!

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