2018-12-05 / Restaurant of the Week

Bahari Estiatorio

B“Bahari Estiatorio is inspired by the rustic, cozy and inviting family gatherings reminiscent of Greek hospitality.” You’ll find these words on Bahari’s website, and you’ll feel this inspiration as soon as you walk through the humble front entrance, past the open kitchen and displays of the freshest fish, seafood and meats available. Best of all, the warm and gracious owner, Anna Kommatas greets everyone with a big smile and exemplifies “filoxenia,” the love of strangers.

For 19 years, Bahari has made every meal here special. The whitewashed dining room will transport you to a traditional taverna in Greece surrounded by exposed brick walls and wood beam ceilings. The main floor has a dining room outfitted with wood tables covered in white linens, while a second dining room, just a few steps up, is peaceful, softly lit and ideal for group dining for your next special occasion or family dinner. The service is friendly and helpful, delivered by veteran waiters Sakis and Mike who treat you like royalty.

Bahari Estiatorio serves traditional cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, healthy ingredients. Everything is made from scratch and the fish and meat are supremely fresh. To complement your meal, order a carafe of house Greek red or white wine or order a bottle of organic red wine from Anna’s village in Greece called Goumenissa and taste the warm, Mediterranean sun in every sip. My lovely friend and I enjoyed their famously tender, grilled, marinated octopus and soaked up its delicious juices with fresh bread. The grilled calamari is so tender and tasty and perfect for sharing, while the fried calamari is crunchy and tender, ideal with a squeeze of fresh lemon. We also shared a plate of savory stewed fava beans called “gigantes” cooked in tomato sauce and herbs that was just perfect. Saganaki is lightly battered, panfried kefalograviera cheese that is addictively good, with a squeeze of lemon. Feta ceramica, a slab of feta cheese with tomato and peppers baked in a ceramic dish, is served hot and bubbly at your table ($13). Cool weather is the right time for grilled Greek sausage called loukaniko or a bowl of Greek style lemon orzo chicken soup.

Cold appetizers included assorted dips that are meant to be shared such as creamy taramosalata (caviar), melitzanosalata (eggplant), skordalia (potato and garlic), and tzatziki (yogurt cucumber). Order a salad for the table with chunks of feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves and tomato, or try the ‘Prasini’ salad with chopped Romaine lettuce, scallions, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and fresh dill.

The grill men at Bahari are experts and cook whole, fresh fish right on the grill with lemon and olive oil to render the flesh so flaky and succulent. We shared a whole Branzino grilled to perfection and served on a gleaming white platter with wedges of lemon. The white, flaky fish was so fresh, it melted in our mouths, and went well with roasted lemon potatoes and an orzo and spinach side dish called “spanakoryzo.” Try grilled sword fish kebabs, grilled jumbo shrimp, or shrimp sautéed with tomato and feta cheese. Pan fried codfish, smelts, and mullet are Greek delicacies. For those preferring meat, you can’t go wrong with aged T-bone or rib eye steaks, or the tender pork chops all cooked to order. Sizzling baby lamb chops called ‘paidakia’ needed no more than a pass on the grill and a squeeze of lemon to show off the tenderness and flavor of these delectable chops. Hand-made bifteki beef meatballs are mildly seasoned and so tasty. Tender calves’ liver with olive oil and herbs makes a hearty meal. Autumn is a good time to try Bahari’s traditional baked Greek dishes such as the stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and herbs, pastitsio baked pasta, and moussaka with delicious layers of eggplant, ground meat, potatoes, and béchamel.

Sakis kindly brought us little dessert plates with squares of flaky baklava, dripping with honey, and galaktoboureki with a creamy custard filling. Order an after-dinner cordial of Samos dessert wine or an herb-based liqueur called “Mestika.”

Make your weekend reservations now at Bahari Estiatorio, where you’ll find consistently delicious, family style Greek cuisine. For the best fish and meat, great service, and warm atmosphere, Bahari is on my list of top restaurants in Astoria. Bahari Estiatorio is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 12:00pm to midnight and conveniently located.

31-14 Broadway, Astoria
718.204.8968

www.bahariestiatorio.com

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