Meeting your significant other's mother is one thing. But, meeting their mother, one of her best friends from college, and her friend's daughter all in one sitting takes going out to dinner to a new level. This is either every guy's dream - an evening with 4 women - or every new girlfriend's nightmare. I was recently given the task of finding a place where this exact event could take place, and, as smoothly as possible. Basically, I was on a mission for a restaurant that would be easy on the ears (while still in a fun setting), reasonably priced, and most importantly, provide a great selection of food. And, in the end, I knew that the success of the evening would come down to the perfect balance of all three. In Greece, it is believed that the perfect feast relies on both the food and the company - the ultimate goal of the evening. A trip to Pylos, an authentic Greek restaurant in the east village, sent us halfway around the world - constantly reminding us of their philosophy of the importance of good living.
The comforts of the welcoming and bright interior immediately eased any initial nerves of new encounters. With clay pots dangling from the entire ceiling and white walls filled with blue shuttered windows, there was no question of the ethnicity of the food we were about to order. As in traditional Greek feast fashion, Pylos' menu is best enjoyed through sharing which was probably a relief for all parties involved. What a person orders can reveal a great deal about their personality - the perfect test for any protective parent - and this was easily avoided as we placed an order for the entire group. The dishes on the menu range from the most traditional Greek fare to more adventuresome, gourmet plates. Wanting a taste of all and in the attempt of discretely getting to know each other through food preferences, we ordered from all ends of the spectrum.
For starters we ordered the classic Greek salad, fried zucchini and eggplant crisps, grilled octopus, and their "light as air" meatballs - a great assortment covering nearly all food groups. The salad was prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, capers, kalamata olives, feta and tossed with a simple dressing of olive oil and vinegar. Although basic, the ingredients were extremely fresh and light. On the other hand, the octopus, their signature appetizer, is a much bolder dish. This meaty seafood is grilled, evenly charring the exterior, and topped with a balsamic reduction sauce that brings out its unique flavors. But, our overall favorite was the fried zucchini and eggplant rounds - perfectly battered and served with tzatziki sauce.
We made the same moves for our mains - a sampling of meat, fish, and vegetables. Our simplest dish was the classic whole fresh fish dressed with olive oil and lemon juice - a wonderful, light platter made for sharing. I loved the marinated grilled baby lamb chops that were served with mini stuffed eggplant and roasted potatoes. Normally there are only 4 chops in an order, but per the waitress' suggestion, she made sure there were 5 on the plate. This was a great call since I am not sure who would have sacrificed their portion (reminder: 4 hungry females, 1 Navy-serving male). Our final main which felt less Greek, but was nevertheless very well prepared, was the braised short ribs in a red wine sauce on a porcini mushroom potato puree. And, if that was not enough, a side order of papates psites - roasted potatoes seasoned with lemon, oregano, and garlic - was a must. The flavors and crispy preparation were wonderful.
It is hard to imagine how the night could not be going well after being able to share all of this wonderful food. It may have been one thing if the waitress had not brought the 5th chop, but luckily she was on her toes all night - a huge help in the selection of this greatly balanced feast. And, no feast is complete without a sweet ending. We shared a chocolate mousse spiked with ouzo and a plate of Galaktobourekakia. The word alone is amazing and, once again, reminded me of just how Greek Pylos really is. Try saying that a three times fast (or even just once) and you've earned a delectable plate of phyllo triangles filled with custard and drizzled with cinnamon and mountain honey. While it was a delicious dish, I definitely know why few people actually speak Greek as a second language. But, I am not as sure why more people do not live by the Greek philosophy - a task not nearly as difficult. All it takes is great company and great food and you have yourself some Good Greek Living - a recipe for success whether you are with old family or even just a new acquaintance.
128 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003-6100
Phone: (212) 473-0220
FOOD RATING (out of 5):