2016-11-30 / Restaurant of the Week

Bahari Estiatorio

By now, you have finished all the leftover turkey and are looking for something different and delicious to eat. Look no further than Bahari Estiatorio on Broadway in Astoria, where authentic Greek cuisine influenced by recipes from ancient Byzantium provide an oasis of excellent Hellenic food and wine. For 17 years, the amiable, gracious owner, Anna Kommatas has treated all of her customers like family. Though she works seven days a week, she never complains. “I like to be here with the people,” says Anna. She even shared some personal stories about the strong connections to her patrons that were very dear and inspiring. The peaceful dining room will inspire you, as you are enveloped with whitewashed walls, exposed brick walls and wood plank ceiling surrounding comfortable tables dressed in starched white linens. A second dining room, just a few steps up, is peaceful, softly lit and ideal for group dining for your next special occasion or family dinner.

Bahari Estiatorio serves traditional cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, healthy ingredients. “It’s like mamma’s cooking,” says Anna. “I’ve brought many friends here and they all feel like they’re at home.

‘ The service is excellent, delivered by the pros Athanasis and Mike, who will offer suggestions if you want them, and we devoured every delicious dish that was recommended.

Start with a carafe of house Greek red or white wine, or order a bottle of 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. Share 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. The baby beet salad marinated in a light vinaigrette is a nice autumn treat.

Hot appetizers include their famously tender grilled, marinated octopus that is so good, you’ll be back for more. The same is true for the grilled calamari, so tender and tasty and perfect for sharing ($11). Saganaki is lightly battered, pan-fried kefalograviera cheese that is addictively good with a squeeze of lemon. Feta ceramica is a slab of feta cheese with tomato and peppers baked in a ceramic dish and served hot and bubbly at your table ($13). 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.

Now that the weather is colder, it’s a great time to try some traditional baked Greek dishes, such as the stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and herbs, pastitsio baked pasta, and moussaka with delicious layers of eggplant, ground meat, potatoes, and béchamel ($14). Our giouvetsi was delicious, made with slowly cooked lamb or beef, and orzo, in rich tomato sauce. This is the perfect cold weather meal. Cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef are topped with a lemony sauce, and the baked lima beans called gigantes are one of my favorite side dishes. Bahari’s chefs are experts at meat and fish, so they have you covered. Share a whole Branzino or red snapper, grilled to perfection, basted in lemon and olive oil, and fileted for us. The white, flaky fish was so fresh, it melts in your mouth. 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, as are the tender pork chops. All are grilled to order and served with French fries, rice, or their famous lemon potatoes. Hand-made bifteki beef patties get their flavor from unique seasonings.

We were treated to a pairing of flaky baklava, dripping with honey, and galaktoboureki with a creamy custard filling that went well with the chilled dessert wine from Samos. What a perfect way to end this perfect meal.

Bahari Estiatorio is a charming locale for an intimate dinner for two, a group of friends or family, or a private event in the upstairs dining room. Weekend reservations are strongly recommended, as Bahari fills up with loyal customers who come back again and again, as I do, for a memorable meal with friends. Bahari Estiatorio is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 12:00pm to midnight, and is conveniently located just a few steps from the Broadway N train. Please say hello to Anna when you visit.

31-14 Broadway, Astoria
718.204.8968

www.bahariestiatorio.com

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