4 Berry Hill Rd, Syosset
(516) 802-5456, nissosrestaurant.com
Astoria aficionados who trek to the Greek enclave in Queens for dishes that they can’t often find on Long Island are gradually discovering Syosset’s Nissos. (It means “island” in Greek.) This cool, blue, unmistakably Greek restaurant that opened in late June represents a reverse culinary migration from Astoria to Long Island. Antonis Farozes, its Greek-born executive chef and majority owner was the chef and part owner of Akrogiali in Astoria for a decade and manager Angie Bounias is also an Astoria transplant.
Nissos looks the part with its high, dark Aegean blue ceiling, light blue walls and gossamer fabric draped from ceiling beams. Seafood on ice is on display along with boxes of colorful fruits and vegetables and Greek pottery. The décor represents a complete and welcome transformation from the 13 or so unsuccessful American, Asian, European and Hawaiian restaurants that have occupied the premises over the last two decades.
A few overall impressions of Nissos: (1) Stick to seafood, especially the fresh flatfish selections, that’s what this place is all about; our only meat selection, pork shish kebab ($15) was tasty but dry and chewy. (2) Every salad, large, small, green and traditional, contained green grocer fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, olives, dill, scallions and green peppers with a scattering of feta cheese. (3) Lunch was a calm, civilized, efficient affair, but a busy weekend dinner proved to be chaotic and confused.
Yet, aside from the pork and a complimentary galaktobureko dessert with a soggy crust, there were no culinary missteps. The appetizer rolls of grilled, expertly seasoned white calamari ($15) were tender, first class treats. The generous, sprawling plate of imported organic lima beans ($9) was a flavor packed bargain (unfortunately at dinner it was finished by the time the other three appetizers arrived). The tiganita, crisp zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki sauce ($14), were a pancake-like stack of alternating vegetables at lunch and a pile of mainly zucchini at dinner with little eggplant. Very good, golden-fried zucchini ($9) is also available on its own.
Both the grilled striped bass ($28) and grilled porgy ($26) were moist, light pristine pleasures. While three strands of sweet, delicate pan fried cod escorted by a garlic dip ($22) were, if anything, even better.
Patient diners who can disregard sometimes staccato, staggered service and the serving of more expensive bottles of wine than were ordered will be rewarded.
photo by yvonne albinowski