We foodies are a restless breed. Just opening a restaurant nowadays that provides good versions of standard fare is not enough. Unless there are a few culinary diversions on the menu, your prospective clientele will shop elsewhere.
Year-old Amylos Taverna in Astoria, Queens understands this demand and satisfies it by offering some nifty twists and turns on Greek classics that will win over the most jaded palate.
Take the “spinach pie.” You won’t find it among the mezze, as spanokopita, but under “salads” where it is deconstructed into a composition of raw spinach and planks of crunchy phyllo, livened with feta and Greek ricotta, moistened with a honey and dill vinaigrette.
You can probably name dozens of Greek restaurants that feature moussaka, but how many can you name that offer a variant in which lobster stands in for the ground beef or lamb? Amylos’s lobster moussaka does just that, combining the chopped meat of the crustacean with potato, eggplant, zucchini, and beets; all are bound by a thick nutmeg béchamel.
Some dishes transcend national boundaries. Greek tacos, as a case in point, consist of rotisserie-roasted lamb (or pork, chicken or fish) in a Village pita with Mediterranean relish and Greek spices.
Mac and cheese, that American classic, gets an Hellenic twist through the addition of kasseri cheese, which lends the sauce a pleasant tang.
Even desserts go beyond the predictable assortment of sweets based on phyllo pastry. There is a decadent chocolate lava cake accompanied by vanilla and cinnamon ice cream and a dollop of fluffy whipped cream.
Price range: Small plates run $12 to $18, main courses $24 to $39, and desserts $8 to $12.
Amylos is open seven days for lunch and dinner and weekends for brunch.
Amylos Taverna, 33-19 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, 718-215- 0228.