2015-12-02 / Restaurant of the Week

Bahari Estiatorio

Bahari Estiatorio provides an oasis of excellent Greek food and wine in Astoria and has been doing so in its Broadway location for the last 16 years. Your lovely, gracious hostess is Anna Kommatas who greets all of her customers like family. The peaceful dining room on the main floor features exposed brick walls and wood plank ceiling surrounding comfortable tables dressed in starched white linens. A second dining room, just a few steps up, has charming, whitewashed walls and soft lighting; the perfect venue for a private party that Anna will happily arrange.

According to the dictionary, estiatorio is defined as a Greek restaurant, especially one that is more upmarket and elaborate than a taverna. Bahari Estiatorio serves traditional Hellenic cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, healthy ingredients. “It’s like mamma’s cooking,” says Anna and indeed, there is nothing upmarket or elaborate about that…it’s just simply delicious! I can’t say enough about the service, expertly delivered by the warm, congenial Mike, who is a guide in the exploration and enjoyment of your meal. His advice and suggestions were welcomed and appreciated as we devoured every delicious dish he recommended.

We started with organic red wine from Anna’s village in Greece called Goumenissa. I could taste the warm, Mediterranean sun in every sip of this fine vintage. Meanwhile, Mike brought us a platter of their assorted dips: creamy taramosalata (caviar), melitzanosalata (eggplant), skordalia (potato and garlic), and tzatziki (yogurt cucumber). These fresh, tasty dips are ideal for sharing, spread on warm triangles of pita bread. A salad for the table is a must, with the traditional Greek with chunks of feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves and tomato, or try the ‘Prasini’ salad with chopped Romaine lettuce, scallions, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and fresh dill.

On the warm side of appetizers, the grilled, marinated octopus is like no other; supremely tender and so flavorful, you just have to try it for yourself. My lovely dining companion helped to devour it, along with ‘feta ceramica’ a hot slab of feta cheese with tomato and peppers baked in a ceramic dish and served hot and bubbly at your table ($12). Fried calamari are light and crispy, as are the fried slices of zucchini and eggplant, served with skordalia for dipping. Homemade spinach pie and grilled Greek sausage called ‘loukaniko’ round out the tempting appetizers, along with classic ‘avgolemono’ soup.

Bahari does an equally great job with fish and meat, so everyone can have their favorite. We simply shared some of each. First, a whole Branzino was grilled to perfection, basted in lemon and olive oil, and fileted for us. The white, meaty, flaky fish was so fresh, it practically melted in our mouths. Bahari also grills up red snapper, dorado, porgy and swordfish. Plump shrimp are simply grilled, or sautéed with tomato and feta cheese. Pan fried codfish is a delicacy, served with creamy skordalia.

Next a plate of sizzling baby lamb chops called ‘paidakia’ needed no more than a pass on the grill and a squeeze of lemon to show off the tenderness and flavor of these delectable chops. Aged T-bone steak or rib eye steaks are popular here, served with French fries or their famous lemon potatoes. Hand-made bifteki beef patties get their flavor from unique seasonings. Pork chops, souvlaki skewers, and tiny, marinated, grilled quails are some of the other grill items made on the spot.

Traditional oven dishes give you a taste of Mama’s cooking such as the stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and herbs, pastitsio, and moussaka. You should order some side dishes as we did. We loved the gigantes, baked lima beans, cauliflower baked with tomato sauce, and peas and artichokes with lemon.

Take your time and savor your meal as we did, knowing that dessert is ready when you are. Flaky baklava, dripping with honey, or galaktoboureki with a creamy custard filling will end the meal nicely, along with Samos dessert wine and some Greek coffee.

Bahari Estiatorio is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner for two, a group of friends or family, or a private event in the upstairs dining room. Either way, you’ll be warmly greeted and treated to Mama’s cooking without pretense or high prices. Weekend reservations are strongly recommended as Bahari fills up with loyal customers and new ones too. Bahari Estiatorio is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 12:00pm to midnight. Call now for a unique dining experience. Yasoo!

31-14 Broadway, Astoria


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