Molyvos, the Greek restaurant named after the Livanos family’s ancestral hometown on the island of Lesvos, is true gem. Located in the former Esca space (402 West 43rd St) in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. A series of inter-connected rooms filled with artwork and a wall of wine adds warmth, while a warm welcome at the door makes everyone feel right at home.
A manageable menu and helpful staff make dining here a breeze. Start with a sampler platter of various spreads like Tzatziki (yogurt with garlic, mint and dill), Tirokafteri (spicy roasted pepper-feta dip), Melitzanosalata (roasted eggplant with tomato, garlic and herbs) which can be purchased individually or as a group.
Or choose, as we did, individual starters like the Greek Village Salad with large pieces of tomato, cucumber and green pepper stopped with brick of barrel-aged feta in a tangy red wine vinaigrette. Melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Octopus arrives on bed of Santorini fava beans and tomato compote. But the showstopper is the flaming haloumi cheese lit tableside with ouzo and and then drizzled with a lively lemon sauce.
If you do anything here, order the fish. It can be a bit pricey, but well worth it. Whole fish – sold by the weight – are grilled with just a touch of EVOO, and include Greek specimens like Lavraki and Tsipoura, and fishes from as far away as Portugal to as near as Montauk. Remember, this is the same family that also operates Oceana.
Amazing head-on shrimp, each about the size of a fist, are among the best we’ve tasted served with a simple lemon sauce. Delightful sea scallops fresh from Maine are flavored with dill and lemon, while a thick chunk of flaky sea bass sits atop pedestal of rice pilaf with wild mushrooms and roasted butternut squash. For those not looking for fish, there are plenty of other options to choose from such as Molyvos Moussaka, Stuffed Peppers, Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, and Cannelloni filled with cheese and braised lamb shank.
For dessert, we shared Milopita, caramelized apples and walnuts wrapped in Phyllo dough and served with cinnamon ice cream. It is wonderful and so is the collection of Greek wines, ouzos and craft cocktails. Molyvos is a perfect spot for a special night out with friends and family. Opa!
By Thomas Rafael