Greek... Just 4,000 Miles West Of Athens
By Pete & Rosie/
There are more than 1400 islands in the Aegean
and Ionian Seas off the coast of Greece… and only one
Tucked into a corner of a Commack strip mall, the Athenian
Greek Taverna is like another Greek isle. The owners of this
popular ethnic eatery boast on their website that they’re
conveniently located just “4,000 miles west of Athens.”
In fact, it is conveniently located – at least for anyone
on this side of the world who’s looking for an authentic
Greek meal and not looking to shell out a lot of drachmas.
This family-owned restaurant was started in 1992 as a yogurt
and salad bar, but quickly expanded as customers responded
to the introduction of authentic Greek dishes.
Athenian Greek Taverna is small, and patrons at the fewer
than 20 tables can easily get to know the folks at the next
table over. That’s OK though; it’s a friendly
place and close quarters simply make for a family-like atmosphere.
The restaurant is as authentic as it gets on this side of
the Aegean. There are the usual Greek specialties –
Gyros, Souvlaki, Falafel and Kabobs – at which they
excel. Sandwiches –warm pita bread stuffed with lettuce,
tomato, red onion and a choice of dressings – go by
the names of gods and goddesses. For the Lamb Gyro ($8), ask
for the Zeus; Apollo is Grilled Chicken Souvlaki ($8); and
Plato is Beef Souvlaki ($8). For vegetarians, the Falafel
($9) or Greek Pizza ($9) offer alternatives. Equivalent platters
range from $12 to $15 and are served with soup or salad, and
rice or potato.
Athenian Greek Taverna’s chefs shine at preparing the
Our favorite meal starts with the Pekelia ($9), a generous
sampler of hummus, feta cheese, tarama, stuffed grape leaves,
babaganouge and olives, and served with warm pita bread. Any
can be ordered alone (Hummus $6, Babaganouge $6, Dolmathakia,
or grape leaves with rice, $6).
Hot appetizers are an extensive list and include Manitaria,
Mushroom in Cognac ($5), Spanakopita, or spinach pie ($6);
and the exotic sounding (only because they’re still
untried by us) Locagnico, or Greek Sausage ($6) or Saganaki,
a plate of broiled Greek cheese ($7). On a recent visit, the
Roasted Feta ($7) from the specials menu was a tasty slab
of the briny Greek Cheese topped with grape tomato halves
and roasted red peppers. Presentation would have been improved
by removing the dish from the foil it was roasted in (as we
did at the table), but the tasty combination of salt and sweet
was a worthwhile treat.
Soups at Taverna are homemade. Avgolemeno, the traditional
Greek lemon soup was creamy, tangy and tummy warming –
a bit of black pepper added tableside spiced it up. A specialty
is the lentil soup, combining lentils, fresh vegetables and
thousands of years of tradition.
No meal at Athenian Greek Taverna would be complete without
the House Greek Salad (small $7, large $8), and if one doesn’t
come with your entree, order it on the side. No surprises
in the salad, but the house dressing is so good they ought
to sell it by the bottle, and in fact they do. The feta is
the real deal, and the ingredients are always fresh.
Greece being an island, their chefs know their way around
the seafood grill. It’s no wonder that some of Taverna’s
finest offerings are from the sea. The O’Psaras, a pairing
of broiled freshwater bass and Tilapia, offered as a special,
was enhanced by the flavorful scampi sauce. More than the
usual butter and lemon, Taverna’s scampi is flavorful
– not too spicy, but enhanced by a generous amount of
Chicken dishes are a tummy-warming treat at Taverna; try the
Akrata, a breast stuffed with spinach and feta ($12); or Kota
Me Kapari, a breast with artichokes and capers in a white
wine sauce ($14).
Taverna packs a lot into its two-page menu, and portions are
generous – no… colossal! Bring an appetite, and
a love of things Greek.
Athenian Greek Taverna
2187 Jericho Turnpike
Cuisine: simple and authentic Greek
Atmosphere: family friendly, casual Greek
Priced: inexpensive to moderate
Hours: open seven days;
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.