284 W. Park Ave., Long Beach
Formerly the Long Beach Diner, Syrtaki Greek Restaurant Taverna is the newest creation of owner Theodore Agelis, who is originally from Greece. Since numerous diners grace the area, including one right across the street, he decided to transform his eatery into what Long Beach really needs…a Greek Taverna. Authentic Greek cuisine is what makes Syrtaki stand out - food prepared exactly as it is in Greece, right down to homegrown ingredients. Most of us in this country are accustomed to American style Greek food.
If you’re lucky enough to chat with Agelis’ niece/manager, Effie, who has been in the USA for only two years, you can learn many interesting tidbits. For example, in Greece, traditional Greek salads generally do not contain lettuce. Gyro meat is usually pork, as opposed to lamb, which we serve in this country. And in Greece, pita bread is mostly found in pitarias, which sell street food (sandwiches), as opposed to fine restaurants.
The space now boasts a Greek theme. Booths remain. Walls are covered with black and white photographs of Greek fame – celebrities like Telly Savalis, renowned movies, scenes of Greece. We were welcomed with warm toasty breads, Kalamata olives, and Greek olive oil. On recommendation, we enjoyed The Little Prince, white wine from the Karavitakis Winery in Crete.
The menu is perfect for the adventurous eater or those curious about culinary authenticity, yet it also caters to those partial to known items like Moussaka, Spinach Pies, Gyros and Souvlaki. Soups, salads, appetizers and cheeses range from $5.50 to $10. A wide array of entrees run from $12 for Steamed Mussels, to $45 for Oven Lamb Shanks with Greek pasta, for two people. Desserts are $5.25 to $9. Lunch Specials, served 11 a.m. to 4 pm. Monday through Friday, are $13.95 for an entrée, cup of soup and beverage. They serve wine (domestic and Greek) and beer, no liquor.
If you love Greek dips, order Greek Trilogy; you’ll choose three from six on the menu. Ours included Taramosalata (creamy, made with fish roe), Hummus (chick peas) and Eggplant dips, served with pita points. Keftedakia Politika were delicious meatballs in a red sauce perked with basil and Ouzo liquor. Bekri Meze, served in a soup crock, was tender pork sautéed with red sauce, white wine, peppers and Kefalotiri cheese. We adored Kefalotiri Saganaki, a triangle of crisp yet oozing fried cheese. Considered to be a salad, Ntakos Santorinis offered a round barley bread bowl crowned with chopped tomatoes, Feta and capers, drizzled with oregano olive oil. Bakaliaro Skorvalia (fried cod fish, quite salty), came with whipped roasted garlic (which looked like mashed potatoes) and a side of Horta, dandelions with olive oil (not yellow flowers, similar to escarole).
For dessert, we shared Mosaic, luscious, firm cake made from chocolate, cookies and butter, served over berry sauce. Loukomades were eight Greek style donuts, served warm and crisp with honey and cinnamon…plenty for sharing and oh, so good.
Syrtaki is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Catering is available, as well as delivery to Atlantic Beach, Lido, Island Park and Long Beach. Reservations are accepted.
■ The Little Prince (Karavitakis Winery)
■ Greek Trilogy
■ Keftedakia Politika
■ Bekri Meze
■ Kefalotiri Saganaki
■ Ntakos Santorinis