128 East 7th Street
City: New York, NY
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: East Village
Pylos may be the most distinctive Greek restaurant in town. Why? Hundreds of clay pots cover the ceiling of this extraordinarily attractive East Village newcomer, a hint of the delicious specialties to come out of the kitchen. Indeed, forget your souvlakis and spanikopitas -- the cuisine here is billed as "Rustic Greek Home Cooking." If that's true, there really is no place like home. One might be tempted to skip the starters and just keep asking for more of the complementary red pepper-studded white bean hummus served with a generous platter of warm pita triangles. It is that good. But then you'd have to pass up consulting chef Diane Kochilis' take on keftedes – instead of the typical mint-flavored meatballs, what arrives is a quintet of surprisingly delicate lamb and beef patties gently fried in olive oil. Octopus lovers will be in heaven; the sea creature is prepared three different ways, including a superb version in which it has been braised to perfection and served with orange, shaved fennel and Greek olives. The house's sure hand with seafood also surfaces in an addictive bowl of lightly battered fried calamari that puts most Italian joints to shame. And now we get to the clay pots: baked red snapper sits in one atop big slices of eggplant, zucchini, onion and potato; while another holds tasty pork medallions in a flavorful white wine and herb sauce. Somewhat lighter, but equally fine, is a plate of poached salmon crowning a mouthfilling mixture of spinach and rice. Greek desserts are not my thing, but my tablemates went wild for a bowl of yogurt drowning in thyme-laced honey and topped with sour cherries and walnuts. While the portion looked big enough for six (as did the chocolate walnut cake at the adjacent table), my two gourmands barely left a spoonful.
Review By: Brian Scott Lipton