Upscale Greek Dining Comes to White Plains
Time-honored Greek and Mediterranean fare is served up in a contemporary setting at Greca's new second location
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“Greek cuisine is at a critical inflection point here in the U.S.,” says Constantine “Dino” Kolitsas, one of the partners (with Louis and Kylie Cappelli) of the recently opened Greca Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar in White Plains. He notes the cuisine has seen a natural progression -- from Greek food eaten at diners and pizzerias, to upscale Greek restaurants in major cities, to now those of us in the suburbs able to enjoy that more modern take.
Greca takes a refined but not fussy approach to its menu. The décor and ambiance of the restaurant set the tone for the food. The striking tri-level space (with a private dining room and wine cellar on the lower level) features such homey touches as tiles with scenes from Greece, and chic touches in the lighting, the bar, and the sweeping views of White Plains. “This is really an amazing city,” Kolitsas notes. He says the combination of businesses, the growing number of residences, and the young demographic of the area made it a natural choice in which to open a cosmopolitan restaurant.
Greca’s sleek, modern White Plains location
This is Kolitsas’s second Greca – the first one in New Milford, CT was “always meant to be a concept we could grow.” Using the popular New Milford restaurant as a starting point, the sleek White Plains location’s menu takes, says Kolitsas, “The flavors of Greece as a starting point, with various Mediterranean flavors sprinkled throughout.” He calls dishes such as the Faroe Island Salmon “gastro-Greek.” The salmon is pan-seared and served with champagne sauce and sage, atop a bed of trahana, a Greek sourdough pasta that is usually prepared as a porridge for breakfast.
Faroe Island salmon
All the dishes we ate at Greca demonstrated how the right combination of spices, freshness, and a deft touch in the kitchen comes together. For appetizers, there was Shrimp Saganaki, Zucchini Keftedhes, and a special of Manouri. If picking up one’s plate and licking it clean was not frowned upon, we would have done that with the shrimp dish, with its delectable combination of tomato, onion, garlic, peppers, fresh herbs and kefalograviera cheese. We kept dipping the flavorful Keftedhes (croquettes) in the tzatziki and red pepper coulis. And the Manouri cheese was a new and eye-opening experience – the grilled sheep’s whey cheese was topped with a bruschetta of dried figs, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and herbs.
For entrees, there was a simple and expertly prepared Lavraki, a whole branzino cooked on an open flame with ladolemono (a Greek vinaigrette) and a Risotto Avlona, brimming with shrimp, mussels, clams, and scallops. Both the fish and the shellfish were delicious and the preparations let the seafood shine. Dinner was capped off by a delectable Ekmek Kataifi dessert – the custard and whipped cream were light and fluffy and the kataifi dough added a satisfying crunch.
Meze trio: pita served with your choice of three different dips.
No meal at Greca is complete without trying the cocktails prepared by beverage manager Frankie Rodriguez. “We’ve given him a new palate of spirits and ingredients and he’s using them to paint masterpieces,” Kolitsas says. Rodriguez, who garnered recognition and fame in the cocktail world at New York City’s Death & Co, is now making such drinks as the Greca Negroni, mixing Greek liqueur and vermouth with Empress 1908 gin, and the Socratic Method, which will change your mind about grappa. There’s also an array of cocktails with either no or low alcohol content, and of course a selection of Greek wines.
A baklava old fashioned: Redemption bourbon, cinnamon syrup, black walnut bitters, and candied walnut
Later this month brunch will be on the menu, featuring such dishes as Tsoureki (a traditional Greek Easter bread) French Toast with Greek yogurt and Greek honey, and a Gyro Skillet, poached eggs on potatoes with gyro carvings, and feta with toasted pita points. “Our menus tweak certain elements of Greek cuisine and give customers a chance to eat rustic and reimagined Greek food,” says Kolitsas.
Abbe Wichman is a Westchester-based food and drink writer. Will walk miles for food, as long as it’s on city sidewalks and not a hiking trail. Bourbon drinker and Yankees fan. Find her on Instagram @abbewichman and on Twitter @abbe_wichman.
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