By Lisa Loverro
An authentic Greek restaurant, Periyali, has become one of the most famous spots for Greek cuisine in Manhattan. They opened their doors 27 years ago in 1987 in response to a need for a classic Greek restaurant in a city that was filled with a multitude of other ethnic options. The history of Periyali runs deep, as it’s considered the first restaurant putting Greek wine on the map. It’s also the first restaurant to make diners aware that there was much more to Greek food than street carts showcasing spits of lamb. The restaurant’s charming decor of whitewashed walls not only immediately transports you to the Greek Islands but they also speak to the variety of seafood options on the menu. And while seafood definitely plays a large role in this cuisine, lamb and other quintessentially Greek items grace their menu as well.
Under the direction of Charles Bowman, of La Cote Basque and The River Café, the kitchen consistently churns out mouth-watering dishes. The food is likened to home cooking, where family recipes were the inspiration that helped to build “Patmian House,” a seasonal restaurant on the Greek island of Patmos where the restaurant’s first consulting chefs hailed from.
Olives are served upon arrival to your table, a nice touch to help put you in a Greek state of mind before you’ve even read through the menu. When it comes to the appetizers, go for the octopus and continue on with the lamb chop or moussaka entrees. These are some of their signature dishes and are highly recommended. In addition to the aforementioned, the Souvlaki is charcoal-grilled and kicked up a notch, using filet mignon, resulting in a succulent dish. Classics like skordalia, fava beans, and sautéed chicken livers over lentils all are some of the best in town. For dessert, a nice assortment of pastries and the creamy rice pudding are excellent options, along with Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts.
Overall, Periyali exudes a cool Mediterranean feel offering an oasis from the bustling city streets outside its doors. The service is always attentive and professional and the noise level is extremely low, a nice change from most city establishments.
35 West 20th Street
NY, NY 10011