If asked to go out to a restaurant, I would probably choose French or Italian. However, I am always up for new things, and on Saturday night I got to go to a great Greek place on the Lower East Side called Pylos. Ari and his friend Will have been there a couple times and said great things, so we all went there with his parents to celebrate various birthdays and visits. The first thing you see when you walk in is that the ceiling is covered in clay pots, which look rather like they are about to crash onto your table.
Will's dad John is very knowledgeable about wine, so he took over talking to the waiter and asked for a medium dry red, something similar to a burgundy. He presented us with a Megapanos Nevea Peloponese from 2005, which was lovely -- dry and a little fruity, with just a hint of honey and an almost grassy taste. We then entrusted the waiter to order a variety of hot and cold appetizers for the table. However, as a preliminary appetizer, we got pita bread with hummus. The pita bread was excellent, hot and a little crispy but not dry. The hummus, however was a bit bland and didn't have a lot of flavor. Luckily, the cold appetizers came shortly. We began with a trio of dipping sauces -- moussaka, tzatziki, and some sort of fish sauce. The moussaka was my favorite, garlicky and perfectly seasoned. We also had a delicious Greek salad consisting of fresh tomatoes, capers, red onions, olives, feta cheese, and cucumber. The other salad I found a little odd, which was made of romaine lettuce and small pieces of feta tossed in a very acidic vinaigrette.
We then moved on to the hot appetizers, which were overall incredible. The first was grilled octopus, which I had never had and was not expecting to like. It was firm, a little fishy, and not at all chewy, and the grilled barbecue flavor set it off wonderfully. We also got calamari, which I love, and was excellent. It was prefefctly fried and crispy, and great with just a little lemon juice over the top. Next was fried eggplant, sliced extremely thin and crispy. Then came a mixture of three Greek cheeses, melted and mixed with a little tomato sauce. That was followed by squares of puff pastry filled with beef, tomatos, and a mild cheese.
After all of that, I was beginning to feel a little full, but the entrées were still to come. I ordered a pistachio-crusted wild sea bass, topped with a little feta cheese and served over a bed of kale and tomatoes. It was an excellent choice, well seasoned and crispy on the outside. The kale perfectly complemented the fish, which was flaky and mild. Ari had the braised short ribs, which I tried a little of and have to say, even though I am not a big red meat eater, it was delicious. The meat practically fell off the bone, and it was served with a potato and porcini mushroom mash, which gets me every time. Actually, I am pretty much guaranteed to like anything with porcini mushrooms, especially when butter is added.
Even though we were all extremely full at this point, dessert was a necessity. Ari and I split an almond honey cake with flakes of chocolate and espresso mixed in, accompanied by a Greek yogurt ice cream. At this point I was so full of food and wine that I could only manage a few bites (a rarity, I promise, as I always have room for dessert). Will and John also tried 100 year old dessert wine, which was incredibly rich and almost syrupy. I tried a sip and while it was very sweet, it also had hints of spice and an almost maple flavor. I don't know if I could handle a whole glass of it, but just a sip was lovely. A perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Photo from greecefoods.com
For more information, go to pylosrestaurant.com/