I couldn't have thought of a better way to end 2014 than with a delicious meal and with the company of wonderful friends. We dined at Pylos, a restaurant specializing in rustic Greek home cooking in the East Village. When you first enter Pylos and venture beyond the mysteriously draped curtains, you see a ceiling littered with terra cotta pots staring down at you like a many-eyed creature. Besides the warm orange tones of the terra cotta glowing in candlelight, the blue and white decor remind you of the buildings on a Greek isle. Thought I have not traveled to one of these island destinations, I have visited Greece with my best friend Jackie, who was a dining companion that night, and I reminisced fondly of our Grecian adventures.
To start, we tried a trio of spreads: tzatziki, melitzanosalata, and taramosalata. Tzatziki is a thick yogurt sauce typically with cucumber or dill. I'm a little obsessed with it of late, putting it on everything from sandwiches to pretzels. Melitzanosalata is a spread of grilled eggplant and olive oil. Finally, taramosalata is a creamy concoction of fish roe. Fish roe?! Odd as it sounds, it was the unanimous favorite of the trio: creamy like a cream cheese spread, with a hint of fish flavor...not unlike the classic combination of lox and cream cheese on a bagel! Pylos' taramosalata was buttery and filled the mouth with an addictive quality quite difficult to explain. The only solution is to try it for yourself.
For another appetizer, we had grilled octopus with a balsamic reduction and capers. Three long, curled, caramelized htapothi tentacles were splayed on the plate, almost like three lollipops beckoning you to have a taste. The octopus was tender, though still retaining an "al dente" texture. The sauce was also delicious, the balsamic vinegar reduced to eliminate its sourness and just bathing the octopus in savory-sweet stickiness.
With six friends around the table, there was a bit of mixing and matching and tasting a bite from each other's entrees: short rib, chicken, bronzino, lamb chops, salmon, and an arugula salad. Everything was stunning in both presentation and taste. My chicken was done in a roulade style, with a piece of boneless chicken wrapped around a center of what tasted like the most elegant Thanksgiving stuffing. I was beyond impressed with this chicken. It was moist, but most importantly, was flavorful without being too salty or harsh. Ironically, people aren't usually impressed by chicken dishes, right? Chicken is usually the safe/affordable menu option. At Pylos, this plate of chicken was outstanding, as was everything else I ate!
Rustic? I'm not sure whether "rustic" Greek food comes shaped in ring molds (like the trio of spreads or the salmon's risotto), but dinner was cooked so skillfully and with great care. If I can beat the tons of other New Yorkers hankering for a taste (reservations are apparently pretty limited and go fast), I will absolutely be back.
Efharisto for a memorable New Year's Eve Eve meal!