Wine & Dine in America with Bob Nicolaides
Wine & Dine in America with Bob Nicolaides
The fish and seafood here command a definite edge, but traditional dishes are not neglected.
Molyvos, 871 7th Avenue, NYC,
(bet. 55th & 56th Streets )
By Bob Nicolaides, e-mail: email@example.com
Nostalgia reigns in this top Hellenic Cuisine sanctuary located in the heartof mid-town. Named after the very special town where its owner,mega-restaurateur John Livanos was born on the island of Lesbos, it is heaving with assorted mementos from the island, and heirlooms and familyphotos that span several generations.
The experience begins as you come into the establishment, where the entrance is fashioned after the traditional storefronts on the island, complete with rough iron decorations that form an archway just above the door.
Once you’re in however, the welcome atmosphere takes over via the pleasant setting of its front dining room, the white table-clothed banquettes and the smiles of several young hostesses.
To the left and almost behind you as you enter an area has been set aside that doubles as a cocktail lounge and the informal diners who cannot wait for the 5:30 pm dining room proper opening, or even 5:00 pm. on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
While the area directly in front of you opens into the front long and narrow space that comprises one of Molyvos’ dining areas, the left half of the room and separated by a divider is the long bar, with plenty of elbow room for those who prefer imbibing, including these guests who await for their table to be set.
Across from the bar, supported by the divider, is a long wooden communal table. In the background you can see two more dining areas that appear to be the offshoot of the front dining room.
The one to the left is reached by walking up two steps, a fact that creates a sense of spaciousness. The other side features more booths for intimate dining. Its interior has changed recently from the many photographs of John’s early years in his native island of Mytilini (Lesvos) to a subtle eggshell hue that prevails all around, with hints of seascapes.
The photographs and mementos from the owner’s birthplace, the fishing village and number onetourist attraction on his island home, Molyvos are now contained in one nook for tradition’s sake.
Both the young chef Jim Botsakos and cook-book author and Aglaia Kremezi are Greek Cuisine authorities and are credited with the tremendous success the restaurant enjoys.
While Ms Kremezi oversees the quality of the dishes produced here and occasionally acts as the spokesperson for its dishes, Botsakos enjoys absolute control of his remarkable kitchen.
They certainly make an exceptional team. This dual cooperation appears to be needed for a restaurant of the Molyvos caliber, where the fish and seafood command a definite edge, but where the traditional dishes are not neglected.
A staff of well-trained, pleasantly helpful waiters, make your dining experience here a outstanding one. You can always count on being greeted by Mr. Livanos himself, since he makes it his personal business topleasantly helpful waiters, make your dining experience here a outstanding one. You can always count on being greeted by Mr. Livanos himself, since he makes it his personal business to spend as much time as possible at this, his very favorite of his seven dining establishment whichare located throughout Manhattan, Westchester and now Connecticut as well.
Among the memorable dishes here are aside from the traditional dips of taramosalata, tzatziki and melitzanes salata, and grilled octopus. There are six traditional home dishes added to the menu Arni (lamb) Kokkinisto or Giuvetsi,and naturally, Moussaka, Stifado prepared with kouneli (rabbit) or vodino (beef) with feta cheese added. Lahano-dolmades (Cabbage) or Grape leave dolmades are also available, as is the Greek fava, which is a split pea which is mashed and whipped to a froth. You may want to try the salad of black-eyed peas interspersed with pea shoots and thin slices of dried tomatoes.
One feature that you can’t ignore here is that Livanos hand picked the man who goes to the fish market as early as 2 a.m. to pick just the freshest fish that his guests will later consume, and that goes for all of his seven restaurants across the metropolitan area.
That’s aside from the fish and seafood flown by air from Greece and other parts of the world. This fresh fish gets the wood grill treatment and with the touch of lemon, becomes a superb main course.
Branzini, Red Snapper, Porgy, Striped Bass, Grouper and Dorade Royale are among the choices of fish, while tender baby lamb chops, or lamb shank baked in a clay pot constitute good choices in the meat department. Try the rabbit stifado is you’re adventurous enough. It’sprepared in a wine and pearl onion sauce.
Molyvos features an outstanding as well as extensive-as well as exclusive-wine list of wines solely imported for the Livanos dynasty’s use from elite producer’s reserve oenotheques, handpicked by a John’s general manager who makes the pilgrimage to Greece annually for this purpose. .
For dessert try chocolatina, milopita or the classic boughatsa,as well as the yogurt and honey combination considered as an aphrodisiac. There is also imported yogurt with home made sweet spoons in flavors of wild cherry, grape and seasonal fruit flavors. Or you can order one of the staple desserts such as baklava and galaktoboureko.Either way your taste buds will thank you for your choice, particularly if you complement the dessert with a cup of deep, dark Greek coffee.
Molyvos is open seven days a week for dinner and weekdays for lunch as well. If you require more information or you wish to make a reservation, do not hesitate to call 212-582-7500.