Winter is coming and there’s not much anyone can do about it. To take your mind off of the winter blues, take a short reprieve to the Mediterranean and enjoy Greek cuisine at Korali Estiatorio in the Upper East Side.
Korali Estiatorio takes inspiration from the Greek Island of Mykonos. Take delicious, traditional Greek cuisine with the white painted decor you would find in Mykonos and transport it to a high-ceiling space in the Upper East Side using locally sourced produce and sustainably raised organic meat and seafood from Barn Lane Farms in Connecticut, and you will find yourself on a culinary vacation at Korali.
Owner Gregori Politis is a 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry, also founder and former owner of Yefsi Estiatorio, which we visited last year. Korali’s vision was brought to life by Yianni Skordas of Skordas Design Studio, whose past projects include other restaurants such as Avra Estiatorio and Anassa Taverna. The space was designed to evoke the historic seaside island of Mykonos by painting the space entirely white, from the brick walls to the wooden designs, complemented by pale gray Grecian marble pillars and stonework.
To start we began with meze dishes, appetizers made for sharing. In my opinion, it would be a huge miss to go to a Greek restaurant and not get the Tzatziki spread. Korali’s is made with a house-made fresh-strained Greek yogurt blended with cucumber and dill, served with warm crispy pita bread. If you have a larger group, get the selection of spreads that comes with four of their signature dips: Tzatziki, Taramosalata (a blend of whipped potatoes, caviar, and citrus juice), Melitzanosalata (char-grilled eggplant mixed with garlic and herbs), and Xtipiti (a spicy feta dip with roasted chilies). For cheese lovers, get the Cheese Saganaki gooey cheese dip.
You can never go wrong with a traditional Greek salad, which is the Horiatiki with diced vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions tossed in olive oil. For something a little bit different, try the Patzaria with roasted red beets mixed with fennel, grapefruit, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese and tossed in a garlic vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the Zucchini Croquettes with feta, which came with more of the delicious Tzatziki spread.
One of my most favorite thing about Greek food is the octopus, and Korali stood up to the expectations. Their Grilled Mediterranean Octopus is thick but juicy and tender, char-grilled and seasoned with saffron-infused lemon oil, served with a side of yellow pea purée. We also loved the Stuffed Kalamari, so soft and tender that it was almost like pasta, served in a flavorful tomato sauce.
For the main course, we opted with seafood to get the most out of Mediterranean experience. The Grilled Tsipoura was light and delicious, a flaky white Gilthead Bream from the Aegian Sea, prepared with olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs, cooked whole and served filleted. Highly recommended! We opted to add on the side of garlic spinach, which was a great complement to our meal.
Another signature dish is Moussaka, a Greek-style lasagna with layers of eggplant, potatoes, ground beef, onions, and tons of seasoning covered with a creamy yogurt-béchamel sauce. For even more hearty entree options, go for their Grilled Baby Lamb Chops or their Roasted Organic Lemon Chicken. If you’re planning a large party and really want to spoil your guests, pre-order the roasted whole goat, which is sourced from upstate New York every Friday. The goat is prepared with salt, pepper, olive oil, and white wine, roasted for 3.5 hours for the most tender and flavorful meal. Call and get your holiday meal planned today!
For dessert, we tried Korali’s Baklava which is made fresh daily. The layers of warm filo dough are filled with with almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cinnamon and nutmeg coated in a lemon-honey syrup. Next time we will have to try the Galactoboureco, a creamy semolina custard wrapped in a delicately crispy shell of filo dough and drizzled with honey, and Loukoumades, which are basically delicious donut holes with honey, walnuts, and cinnamon. For those less partial to super sweet desserts, try the Greek Honey Yogurt topped with honey, nuts, and dried fruit, or even a nice glass of white wine from Santorini.
While you will wish you were actually basking on one of the many Greek islands, you can get a taste of authentic Greek food at Korali Estiatorio, as proof from all of the local Greek neighbors that dine here on the regular.
1662 3rd Avenue at 93rd Street
New York, NY 10128