Greek Taverva in Glen Rock
US Foodie Round-Up
With Bob Nicolaides, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Antiques Buff Proprietor, Discriminating Interior Decorator Create a Fusion of Old and New from all Around the World
Greek Taverna, 175 Rock Road
Glen Rock, N J
Food- Exceptional Ambience- Pleasant Price- Moderate
Peter Hajiyerou is an enthusiastic buff of antiques and as such he has gathered a trove of priceless items, not only from around the world but even here at home. His specialty is items which have been part of legendary restaurants which have now declined or closed, but which have left an indelible impression on people’s minds.
(Photo Vicky Tsiavalas The full façade of Greek Taverna in Glen Rock).
Peter, who owns three restaurants in different locations of Northern New Jersey, all named Greek Taverna has occasionally used some of the antiques to decorate his first two, but never did he concentrate as much in the use of antiques as he has with his latest creation, the latest Greek Taverna which is opening in Glen Rock, NJ early in December.
Take for instance the entranceway to his newest Greek Taverna at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock. The heavy dark oak door with the bar-restrained miniature window at face level, speak-easy style, which greets you as you walk in comes from France and is a product of the Lalique establishment.
On the outside over the door there is a large ship’s steering wheel, the circle of which is filled with stained glass. To the side of the door, there’s a large diamond-shaped stained glass with the name of the restaurant etched on it and framed in wood. The floor across the entrance is done in a mustard hue tile and extends across the mini-shopping center.
Once you have passed through the entrance what attracts you is a large chandelier hanging directly above and right as you are facing the door and to the left of the door as you face it, a large rectangular sheet of pounded copper holds an antique nautical compass, a nautical mile counter and an air-tight circular ship window.
To the right of the door begins the counter at the Open Kitchen (one of three such facilities here, one in the back of the ground floor also the chef’s room is located and one in the basement for all the baking,) that starts with an Oyster and Clam opening bar and all its necessary equipment, continuing with shelving and other items necessary for a kitchen of this sort.
The part of the counter visible from the guest’s side is finished in marble tile, while behind the worker’s space, a sheet of stainless steel gives way upward to a brick wall adorned by two picture windows made of bronze. Beyond this counter, the wall on that side is covered by a large mirror, one in a series of large mirrors covering different areas in the Saloni Room, which is the area by the entrance, the Patari, which is the loft and the Oak Room or the main Dining which are the three rooms to be open presently. Beneath the Patari, to the left of the circular staircase leading upstairs, a corridor shows the way to the rest rooms.
( Photo Vicky Tsiavalas, The Saloni dining room/lounge with entrance at Greek Taverna, in Glen Rock)
Across the room at the Saloni, and facing the entrance, the bar countertop is a fusion of onyx and dark marble, while its body is created from slivers of lava rock taken from the Vesuvius, one of Italy’s volcanoes. The fixtures hanging from a wooden casing that follows the same contour as the bar, are made of relief glass chips of various colors as in stained glass, all pieces are bonded together and their origin is Sicily. The bar’s ‘roof’ is a crisscross of thin polished wood strips which are assembled to look like a grapevine support. They were taken from a shuttered barn in Vermont.
The register stand to the right of the bar as one faces it, is a memento from his uncle’s seafood restaurant, the Pier 17, which thrived in years past on Route 17 in Paramus, NJ . It was commissioned by his uncle and was made of ornamental brass and glass panels, a sturdy piece of equipment thatwithstood time and can be considered an antique as well.
From closer home comes the semi-circular staircase of polished blonde wood leading to the Patari room which is a smaller dining area which accommodates up to 40, in the rear of the restaurant and which was bought at the auction of New York City’s Plaza Hotel. The wrought iron gates standing in the loft’s front by the handrail and which simulate a mock entrance, as well as the matching candleholders are remnants from the Byzantine period Asia Minor. The ceiling in the Saloni room features vaulted brick areas interrupted by natural barn-style skylights also of bronze, while that of the Patari room has slim polished wood beams running across on a whitewashed ceiling.
To the right as one enters the main dining room, called the Oak Room, a sizeable fireplace attracts attention, the beginnings of which are traced to the Plaza’s King Cole room as well as a credenza which had its own niche in the Oak Room of the same hotel which dominated the scene in New York for decades before its conversion to condominiums.
A full antique wine rack is positioned on the left side of the far end of the room along with the wrought iron candleholders and huge mirrors which also come from the same source. The ceiling in this dining room is also done in bricks, which create the same vaulted effect as in the outer room. The floors of all three dining rooms are of highly polished exotic wood and the tables, also from the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room are sculpted and bound with strips of brass on their width edges. The expensive chairs also come from the same source.
Right beneath the loft space and to the left of the circular staircase a corridor leads to the lavatories, with the floor towards them done in eggshell mosaic, and so are the walls and ceiling of both the Ladies and the Men’s Room. It must be said that the mirror in the Gentlemen’s Lavatory is a replica of an authentic French Revolution mirror used by the Bourgeoisie.
Hajiyerou toyed for a while with the idea of keeping a full 14th Century Knight’s Armor in the Ladies’ Room, but decided against it for the fear that women entering may be may get frightened by the site of this panoply.
(Photo Vicky Tsiavalas, The Oak (dining) Room, looking towards entrance and the fireplace).
In commissioning Adelino Soussa to execute the décor of his newest establishment, Hajiyerou did not yield the right to his input, so you can still see his signature in the positioning of all the antiques he acquired and many more which are still lying in the basement, a portion of which will in time become an additional dining room by the name of Kellari, and which are awaiting their turn to become part of the image of Peter’s restaurant.
Between the walk-in freezers for meats and fish, the ice boxes and the vegetable bins-all in the basement-are located in the basement, one stumbles on all sorts of antiques, including an authentic wood burning furnace and credenzas also acquired from the Plaza Hotel and some huge Neo-Byzantine era wood-sculptured boards. Had it not been that this is the area where the staff seek to resupply their kitchen, it would’ve very well qualified as an antique gallery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The fare here is authentic Greek, with the emphasis on fish and seafood. The fish from the Aegean Sea arrives as often as the demand requires. The fish is prepared on the grill with a drizzle of lemon and served either whole or as filet. This of course does not mean that the Greek specialties like Moussaka, Pastichio or even the Paidakia, the grilled baby double-loin lamb chops are given less attention.
The Glen Rock location is the only one of Hadjiyerou’s three restaurants by the same name where there is a full bar and live entertainment, the kind that energizes you and makes you kick your heels is anticipated to start soon.