Sunday, Apr 21st

The Evocative Flavors Of Homemade Greek Food At Tzatziki Greek Grill

TzatzikiFrontThe well known chef Paul Prudhomme said,” You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” The inviting Tzatziki Greek Grill in New Rochelle, might be small and unassuming but the flavors of their homemade Greek dishes are very big. A visit here is like arriving at the home of friends who are really good cooks.

 A small bar is tiled in blue. The walls are the blue of the sea. Bottles of wine, Greek pottery and artwork line the walls. Blue glass worry beads and painted glass eyes to ward off evil hang on the walls. The evocative aroma of lemons, and fragrance of oregano and other fresh herbs and olives permeate the air and whet your appetite.

The owners of Tzatziki Greek Grill always look toward the future. They hope to bottle their homemade sauces and make them available to a larger audience and perhaps a Greek food truck will be available for parties in the future, as well.

Seating about 45 guests, Tzatziki is very casual. Greek music plays in the background. I visited on a weekday afternoon. Many young people, possibly students from nearby Iona College were enjoying their meal as well as local business people. I sat down with manager Lena Toumaras and after a few minutes, I felt as though I knew her and her family forever. She explained that the owners Fay and George Nanakos, and Dimitri Toumaras opened the New Rochelle spot about 2 years ago. Their chef and partner Billy Kokoranis is a CIA graduate and together they have developed a large and varied menu of classic and innovative Greek dishes. They say it is Greek cuisine with a twist. The family has been in the restaurant business for 30 years with restaurants in Manhattan and New Paltz. According to Lena,” fresh and authentic, diverse and innovative describes our food. We love food and are passionate people and take great pride in all of our homemade creations.” When asked whom she would like to serve, the first who came to mind was her dad followed by the rat pack, those early Hollywood stars. “Our staff and guests are like family. We say our staff works with us, not for us.

At least two dozen starters are offered here. Some are purely classic and some are creative variations on the classics. Try the saganaki cheese sticks. Here fingers of saganaki cheese are rolled in crumbs and fried. Enjoy them with the skordalia, potato and garlic dip for a wonderful beginning. For the gluten free crowd spanakopita and zucchini bites are perfect choices. Rolled in gluten free crumbs and fried, they are served with tzatziki, freshly prepared with Greek yogurt, perfect for a cocktail party, as well. Keftedes, the classic Greek meatballs are bathed in a lovely tomato sauce and topped with shredded feta cheese. Tender grilled well-seasoned octopus with red wine vinegar, olive oil and herbs is another fine choice. Grilled calamari, falafel, grape leaves filled with rice and dill, tzatziki wings, a 5 dip sampler, and tzatziki nachos are other varied starters. A selection of these would certainly constitute a varied meal. Salads, small or large come in several varieties and can be topped with a choice of souvlakis, falafel, gyro, calamari, shrimp or salmon. I savored the beet salad where cubes of beets were tossed with feta, arugula, and onion and roasted pine nuts in a balsamic dressing. Also interesting are the cranberry, walnut, feta salad with romaine and cucumbers, a lentil salad, and horiatiki a village salad with a house made Greek dressing.

ZeusBurgerThe traditional gyro, the combination of ground beef and lamb can be enjoyed as a sandwich on pita or as a gluten free wrap enhanced by tomato, lettuce, onion and tzatziki or as a Zeus burger where the gyro tops a burger and feta cheese. On the subject of burgers, try the signature burgers of Santorini with sautéed tomatoes, onions and feta or the Athenian with fig spread, feta and balsamic glaze and the list goes on. Specialty sandwiches are tempting here, from a variety of souvlaki and gyro sandwiches to meatball, homemade Greek sausage to name but a few. I loved a traditional lamb souvlaki on pita with tender chunks of lamb, lettuce, tomato and tzatziki sauce on the side. This sandwich went well with well-seasoned house made fries. For the vegetarian there are many choice sandwiches such as falafel, lentil, hummus, grilled kasseri cheese and sautéed vegetables. If you prefer a platter, grilled salmon, shrimp, swordfish souvlaki or gyro are presented with pita, lemon potatoes, rice or fries and tzatziki or tahini sauce.

Not far from Iona College, Tzatziki offers a college student special lunch of choice of gyro, souvlaki or LemonPotatoesfalafel sandwich with fries and a soda.

On to a selection of Greek favorites. Very special was a platter of grilled baby lamb chops, beautifully spiced and well trimmed, served with their excellent lemon potatoes infused with freshly squeezed lemon juice and salad. Pastichio, a rich classic with layered pasta , meat tomato sauce and topped with a crown of béchamel sauce, as well as moussaka with grilled eggplant slices, zucchini and potatoes, tomato beef sauce also topped with the rich béchamel were both deliciously filling. Perhaps I will sample the spanakopita, a spinach feta and fila pie on a future visit.

You might not have room for dessert but even if your tables shares just one sweet, I suggest the baklava bread pudding with a caramel metaxa sauce. It is sweet, rich and studded with walnuts, unusual and divine. Loukumades, the classic honey puffs, those fried balls of dough dipped in honey cinnamon syrup are classic and hard to resist. Baklava, baklava ice cream, baklava cheesecake, the custard filled galactoboureko, and Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth. These house made treasures add a fine finish to your Greek culinary experience.

HoneyPuffsTzatziki Greek Grill offers catering services and they have a large take out business as well. If you are north, they have a second location on Wheeler Avenue in Pleasantville.

Kali Orexi or bon appetite as you enjoy a meal at Tzatziki Greek Grill.

Tzatziki Greek Grill
1 Huguenot Street
New Rochelle

Recipe: Skordalia Dip

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt, to taste
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower heat to medium and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes and reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Crush garlic to form a paste in a food processor or mortar and pestle with salt. In a bowl, mash the potatoes and add the garlic mixture. Add oil a little at a time and mix until it is absorbed. Add vinegar and mix well. Add salt to taste. If it is too thick add some of the potato water. Refrigerate and serve at room temperature as a dip.BaklavaCheesecake

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace