NYC Restaurants

Retsina Elliniko Trattoria
115 East 60th St (Park & Lexington Aves)
New York, NY, 10022
(212) 486-8826 Map

Cuisine: Greek

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Cititour Review:

I passed the Scandinavian restaurant Ulrika dozens of times during its tenure on East 60th Street and never stopped in; yet I felt a small pang of regret when it closed. Determined to not let history repeat itself, I immediately made a visit to its replacement, Retsina Elliniko Trattoria, the moment I spotted it. And that won’t be the last time you’ll find me at this modestly decorated, modestly priced Greek eatery, just a stone’s throw from Bloomingdale’s.

The evening began with an unpleasant surprise that quickly turned into a most pleasant one. While the restaurant is named after the woodsy Greek wine, the just-opened Retsina is still awaiting its liquor license. So the house is generously offering complimentary glasses of six different wines, including such non-Hellenic varietals as Pinot Grigio, Merlot, and Cabernet in addition to its namesake. Moreover, as the evening progressed, the restaurant’s commitment to customer service became increasingly evident, from the frequent re-filling of water glasses to politely answered questions about the menu.

As is my custom, we began with pikilia – a selection of Greek dips; in this case, nicely garlicky skordalia, a pleasingly herbal tzatziki, and ultra-fresh melitzanosalata, made with chunks of roasted eggplant – accompanied by warm, pita triangles and one small but yummy zucchini and herb fritter. To augment the experience, add an entire order of those fritters – known as kolokithi keftedes. If you’re a larger party, you might also consider rings of fried calamari, which looked quite good at a neighboring table, as did entrée-sizes ramekins of pasticcio, the traditional dish of seasoned ground beef, pasta, and béchamel sauce. Such other Greek specialties as saganaki, grilled octopus, mousaka, and lamb with orzo also dot the well-put-together menu. My dining companion’s fondness for Greek dips is only exceeded by his love of stuffed cabbage, so he jumped on the opportunity to order Retsina’s version – a veritable bargain at $12 for three delicious pieces. I opted for my standby, chicken souvlaki; while the meat was tasty, it wasn’t quite as moist as others I’ve had (especially Uncle Nick’s), though its side dishes of super-fluffy white rice and string beans in tomato sauce were first-rate.

I often skip desserts in Greek restaurants, but the galakboutreko – a strudel-like concoction filled with custard – looked very appealing at a neighbor’s table. And, lo and behold, it was the best version I’ve ever had; sweet, but not cloying, topped with cinnamon and honey, and featuring super-flaky phyllo dough. My companion was even more thrilled by a large parfait glassed filled to the brim with wonderful homemade fig ice cream. Yet one more reason, I’ll return to Retsina very soon.

Review By: Brian Scott Lipton

Neighborhood: East 60s


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