At a time when our sense of community seems more fractured than whole, the team behind the new Platía Greek Kitchen in Syosset seeks to inspire a sense of togetherness infused with lively heritage recipes and a warm, spirited embrace.
Platía is the Greek word for the town square, the central meeting place in villages where commerce, feasts and celebrations occur. The platía is the lifeblood of a village. “Everywhere you go in Greece, there’s a platía,” says partner Greg Spanos.
At Platía Greek Kitchen, the dining table becomes the center of the community, and a place for friends and family to gather and share food and life. Partners Spanos, Nick Nerantzinis, George Nerantzinis and chef Michael Giannakis have created a rich communal experience reflected in the restaurant’s philosophy, décor and menu.
“In this day and age, we’re more connected than we’ve ever been, yet we’re very disconnected,” says Matthew Kalamidas, Platía’s designer. “It’s nice to be able to sit down together in an atmosphere that’s removed from the everyday and share a meal and stories. Food can transport you.”
The olive tree symbolizes life in Greek culture and olive oil is the basis for everything in the recipes.
Within the restaurant, the pulse of life is palpable, punctuated with lively chatter, a bustling kitchen and savory aromas. Cool azure blues, whitewashed walls and billowing, draped fabric suggest a Mediterranean village. Black and white photos of everyday life in Greece evoke a sense of nostalgia. There’s even a live olive tree rooted at the center of the restaurant. “The olive tree symbolizes life in Greek culture and olive oil is the basis for everything in the recipes,” says Kalamidas.
The extensive menu is as fresh and vibrant as the Aegean Sea. “We wanted to keep the menu true to the roots, essence and simplicity of Greek cooking—simply grilled meat and fish, olive oil and lemon juice,” says Giannakis. “I bring that modern knowledge of food, flavor and texture as well as everything that I’ve learned from my grandma, my mom and my sister, growing up in a big Greek family.”
Be sure to sample the baked feta appetizer, a vivacious dance of salt and sweet, wrapped in phyllo dough and topped with sesame seeds, honey and fig jam. Platía Mac & Cheese Balls are one of the few “nouveau” menu options: elbow pasta with feta and manouri, lightly coated in Japanese breadcrumbs.
Succulent grilled meat, fish and sausage options are plentiful. You can choose from generous mixed grill platters piled high with tender slices of pork and rib-eye topped with rosemary compound butter or gyro platters featuring vertically rotisseried layers of seasoned pork or chicken. Char broiled bronzini—delicate, deboned white fish—is perfumed with a hint of lemon olive oil sauce.
Platía offers a selection of comforting oven-baked specialties. Pastitsio, baked pasta with seasoned ground beef, is impossibly tall, scented with warm spices and topped with creamy béchamel sauce.
The restaurant also offers a carefully curated choice of Greek wines and signature cocktails created by partner Nick Nerantzinis. The crystal clear, Platía-tini is a heady concoction of tsipouro (a pomace brandy from Greece), mastic liqueur, dry vermouth and rosemary. The mastic tree is found on the island of Chios in Greece and produces a highly prized, sweet resin with a silken, earthy flavor that complements traditional Greek seasonings. The cocktail tastes adventurous and exotic, and it may be difficult to limit yourself to a single glass.
Giannakis is committed to local sourcing whenever possible. The Greek yogurt used at the restaurant is made traditionally in small batches at Nounós Creamery. Platía’s modest, yet richly satisfying Greek yogurt dessert bowl is dressed with slightly sour black cherries, honey and a crunchy walnut topping. For those who crave an even sweeter indulgence, the decadent baklava and galaktoboureko (a traditional Greek custard) are both sublime.
Once you’ve dined at Platía Greek Kitchen, you’ll likely feel nourished in body and spirit, and perhaps you’ll be dreaming of a sunny Mediterranean holiday with friends.
“We’re keeping it true,” says Giannakis. “That’s what I want to bring to Syosset—that passion, and that simplicity and letting the food speak for itself.”