“Philoxenia,” a Greek expression for hospitality, is the motto of neighborhood restaurant Taverna 38 in Williston Park. Located on busy Hillside Avenue, owners John Alexopoulos and Claudio Peralta combine fine Grecian cuisine with the comfort of sitting in your own home. The seasoned restaurateurs let their imported Mediterranean sea fare speak for itself.
“The quality of what we do at great price points is what makes us unique,” said Alexopoulos; Peralta adding, “It’s an elegant, yet simple taverna. We’re here to have fun.”
Alexopoulos and Peralta have a combined 50+ years of fine dining experience, working in various NYC restaurants alongside celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay. They have come a long way since meeting at Lincoln Center’s then star restaurant Picholine, with the launch of their exclusively Greek tavern on May 5.
“I grew up on this cuisine, so our focus is freshness,” said Alexopoulos. Their best selling branzino and market fish are flown from Greece right to their kitchen. Most of their seafood is grilled and lightly marinated using basic ingredients like olive oil, lemon, oregano and parsley to maintain light, crisp and simple tastes.
Other featured menu items include “Oxtapodi” or grilled octopus served with capers and red onion in red wine vinaigrette. Among all of their salads under $10, the classic Greek “Horiatiki” salad is another fan favorite served with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and wild oregano tossed in EVOO and a side of pita chips. Their top-selling dessert is a fresh olive oil cake, made with oil sent by Alexopoulos’ family in the Peloponnesian region, coupled with house made yogurt ice cream and cranberry chutney.
“The menu speaks to what we do here,” said Peralta. “Combined with the attractive décor and our background in service, we offer our customers a great experience.”
Complementing the exotic cuisine are lavish white leather booths and chairs, light wood-grain tables, crystal drinkware and white curtains with blue accents that separate the dining area from the bar. Signature drinks include their Pear Blossom cocktail, using pear vodka, elderflower, cranberry, apple and fresh lemon juice, as well as their Summer Sangria with white wine, apricot brandy and basil.
Taverna 38 delivers a refined yet comfortable dining atmosphere that sets it apart, reinforced by Alexopoulos’ assertion: “When people come into our home, they may walk in as strangers, but they’re going to leave as our friends.”