by Aria Socratous.
The Greek Tribeca has quickly established itself as a destination restaurant in Manhattan, and has built a loyal following among it neighbors. The landmark building and surroundings inspired a connection to the Mediterranean villas of the Greek Peloponessos.
The materials, textures, and colors inspired by the medieval castle at Monemvasia (the Gibraltar of Greece) blend seamlessly into the cobblestone streets and warehouse lofts of ultra-chic Tribeca. “The Greek” is a very cozy and upscale ouzerie tucked away on the West side of the Tribeca, giving it a feel of seclusion and intimacy. The atmosphere you feel right when you enter the place is the atmosphere of the cozy den of Greek hospitality. The rustic and comforting interior receives constant praise from customers.
“The Greek” is a great challenge for me. I wanted to have an experience with all the senses from the way we decorated to the way we did the lighting. Our goal was to create a very cozy and comfortable atmosphere and this is what we achieved after all. We consulted on every detail of the restaurant to create an immersive experience, from a rustic salvaged trellis over the tables to commissioned artwork on the walls, to the menus, silverware,glassware, and the plating of the food. The bar features a hammered copper surface, the room is divided by an elegant taffeta drapery, and buttery tufted leather covers the banquettes. The space has the elegance of a fine dining restaurant, with the comfort of a living room where customers might kick off their shoes. We are constantly involved in the maintenance of the interior, detailing for each season and decorating for holidays and event ”, says Tom Galis, the owner of “The Greek”.
Tom always knew he wanted a full-service restaurant, and in particular, given his heritage, a Greek one. “I saw cobblestones, the quiet street, the wine barrels on ceiling—the only thing we kept—and it all just felt right.”he contends.
The menu is based on Tom’s mother and grandmother’s cooking and their main focus is on the use of fresh and good quality ingredients, directly imported from Greece. Tom knew exactly what dishes he was going to feature and what quality of ingredients he was going to use, so he designed the first draft of the menu himself.
“I wanted to design something comfortable, something that exemplified the meaning of going to a Greek taverna—from attitude to design elements to food.” While his experience certainly helped, he says that the difference between opening a full-service restaurant and a fast-casual one is night and day. “I look at it as a positive,” he says. “Because we’ve never done this before, we’re doing things out of the box. I have a certain philosophy which is to get the best ingredients, not to take any shortcuts and import almost everything from Greece. Even the spices we use such as oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg are directly imported from Greece. I want to use in the restaurants the same ingredients I use in my own house and to promote a healthy way of living. I always use organic produce and non GMO’S. The way I feed my family in my house, the same way I want to feed my clients.
The changes in a sense of seasonality, of what the customers are expecting to see and taste
Those expecting a menu heavy on seafood are in for a surprise. The Greek is more inspired by the mainland (versus the islands), so the offerings lean toward meat and vegetables, although there are a few seafood options. The signature dishes are moussaka and kokkinisto. Mousaka is layered with potato, grilled eggplant, zucchini and beef top with eggy-buttery béchamel. Every ingredient is cooked separately and seasoned properly in a casserole. Kokkinisto is all natural braised short rib, greek fries, organic tomato jus and shredded mizithra.
The wine list is exclusively Greek, and what’s more, on the wine menu there is a Greek quote of Evripides translated into English: “Both to the rich and the poor, wine is the happy antidote of sorrow.”