Molyvos Restaurant

7th Avenue between 55th and 56th (south of Carnegie Hall)

212 582 7500

UPDATE 4/10/2005: It is probably just a gustatory illusion, but Molyvos just seems to keep getting better. Their grilled octopus salad is sharp and smoky and full of brightly flavored greens and big chunks of tender octopus. The red mullet was spiced and broiled to perfection. We still can't get enough of the beets and skordalia. Did we mention the lamb shanks? There's all this, saganaki, great Greek wines by the glass, and they start serving at five. You can even get a snack earlier at the bar.

The official center for Greek food in New York City is in Astoria, just a short ride on the R out of Manhattan. If you would rather stay in Manhattan, check out Molyvos which is just up the block from Carnegie Hall and not all that far from Lincoln Center. As you might expect, this place attracts an arty crowd and offers them the glories of Greece in a pleasant, stylish setting.

A meal at Molyvos starts with high intensity appetizers and it was tempting to pile up the plates the way one does at a dim sun restaurant. We broke down and had the grilled Greek lamb sausage, the tender, smoky octopus, the kefta fried chick peas, the savory vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, giant white beans in tomato sauce, mussels in a flavorsome broth and one or two other things that didn't fit into my old Palm III. All this and a wonderful Greek red wine to match. By now we were getting giddy and ordered the flaming cheese saganaki, responding to the flames with the appropriate oohs and aahs, as if warming up for The Lion King.

Then we ordered our main dishes. There are some restaurants, like Aureole, which have great appetizers, each one a little gem of flavor, but the flavor gets diluted in the larger main course. This was not the case at Molyvos, where the main courses were as good, if not better, than the starters. Sort of the concertos after the piano exercises. Somehow, ask Steven Hawkings, we found ourselves eating every bit of our tender lamb shanks with ourzo and rich mousaka with a yogurt bechamel. Molyvos is not your Parthenon coffee cup diner, they have Greek food worthy of Queens.

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