Amylos Taverna

The Gazette is proud to welcome Amylos Taverna to Astoria on the site of the iconic “Uncle George’s.” Amylos is a positively gorgeous new restaurant that will make you feel as if you’re in a posh restaurant on the Upper East Side, without the pretentiousness and exorbitant prices.

Amylos Taverna is a family affair, run by the Arvanitis Family, who have owned Omonia Greek pastry shop and cafe for 42 years. The Arvanitis Family, along with Fedon Kefaleas and general manager Stamatis, welcome you to their newest restaurant. The stunning décor, created by Mrs. Arvanitis and Fedon, features elements of the earth and land with sand colored, stacked brick walls accented by wooden basket weave panels. Birch tree trunks separate both sides of the dining room and sheer, wispy curtains can be drawn to surround a private party. Earthenware Grecian vessels called amphora rest on the wood floor and gilded mirrors and soft lighting glow under the wood beam ceilings. The corner location is wrapped in glass doors that will open in warm weather. Amylos opened quietly in January, and a festive Grand Opening is scheduled for March 15th so make your reservations now.

The extraordinary cuisine, cocktails, and wines served at Amylos honor the family’s Greek roots, but all dishes have been artfully re-designed with a decidedly modern, gastronomic twist. We settled in with fabulous craft cocktails including my “Figenza” with fig-infused vodka, muddled figs, pomegranate juice and lemon, served over lots of ice in a copper mug. My friend’s “Sophist” was bourbon based with cherry and walnut bitters and a hint of spicy peppercorn.

It’s worth stopping in at Amylos just for one of their cocktails and while you’re there, try an appetizer or two.

The chef’s moussaka croquettes turn a classic Greek dish into a delicate appetizer morsel, crisp and golden outside, and replete with sweet eggplant and herbs inside ($15). Sushi grade octopus is char-grilled and served with fava bean purée and crunchy, pickled onions which made for a lovely juxtaposition of tender octopus, creamy and crunchy textures. Shrimp saganaki is perfect for soaking up with crusty bread, with its unique sauce of tomato, feta cheese, ouzo, and herbs ($19). Even classic saganaki gets a twist with tomato jam atop the imported cheese. Snack on hand cut veggie chips dipped in yogurt mint sauce with a beautiful eggplant tower.

Amylos’ eye popping spinach pie salad is a must try and share. Imagine a deconstructed spinach pie made with layers of crispy phyllo and raw spinach in between dressed with honey dill vinaigrette, then topped with a dollop of creamy feta and ricotta cheeses. It’s almost too pretty to eat and has changed my friend’s relationship with spinach forever. I’ll have to go back to try the fig salad, beet salad, and decadent lobster salad tossed with couscous, mint, pine nuts, citrus, and truffle oil.

Entrées at Amylos come from the land and sea, with marvelous fish dishes such as the pan-seared halibut over sautéed spinach and avgolemono sauce. This fish was so fresh and flaky, you feel satisfied but not weighed down after devouring it. Wild Scottish salmon is grilled to perfection and served with lentils, turnips and beet sauce, while juicy sea scallops are served with avocado mousse and fig balsamic reduction. In keeping with Greek tradition, there are whole, market-fresh fish grilled to order, and ideal for sharing.

Fine meats include Dark Ale lamb shank, slow-cooked for hours with molasses and herbs, served with eggplant purée and fava beans. Colorado lamb chops are impossibly tender and juicy after a pass over the charcoal grill, basted with fine olive oil and wild oregano. If you prefer a straight up steak, you won’t be disappointed with the prime NY sirloin, 16 ounces of deliciousness, grilled with roasted garlic, sea salt and herbs. Amylos honors the iconic tradition of Uncle George’s with a rotisserie mixed grill platter for two that combines succulent chicken, pork, and lamb chunks marinated with Greek herbs, served with hand cut fries ($39 for two). Pasta dishes round out the menu, with vegetable orzo for those who prefer to skip the meat, Yiaya’s veal cheek papardelle for meat lovers, and seafood risotto with clams, mussels, shrimp, and saffron.

The service at Amylos is warm, friendly, and efficient thanks to veteran waiter Nikos and the crew. As impossible as it seems, Anna Christina convinced us to try some desserts, which were also modern takes on classic Greek favorites. Cheesecake baklava is surprisingly light and fluffy, nestled between layers of phyllo and nuts in honey. Traditional Greek walnut cake is infused with Greek honey and served with refreshing fig ice cream. Yogurt panacotta is light and creamy, infused with an herb called mastiha, topped with strawberry thyme sauce. American chocolate lava cake melts in your mouth and all are enjoyed with a cool glass of Moscato dessert wine and a rich coffee.

A meal at Amylos will not soon be forgotten as you reminisce about the quality of the cuisine, the beautiful ambience, and delightful service delivered warmly by the Arvanitis Family. Amylos Taverna is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch, seven days a week, from 11am to 11pm. Visit their website for tantalizing photos, and more information. Make your reservations now for the Grand Opening event, or for your own special dinner anytime. Yasoo!

33-19 Broadway
Astoria  718.215.0228

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2019-03-01 digital edition