In The Big City


An Odyssey of Authentic Greek Cuisine in the Heart of NYC

By Tara Jean McDonald


At Avra Estiatoria at Rockefeller Center {1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York; 212.430.8888} you can enjoy beautifully prepared Greek food in a chic setting. They have locations in Beverly Hills, Miami, and Rockefeller Center. Co-founder Nick Tsoulos grew up in the coastal Greek village of Nafpaktos where his family would feast on fresh local seafood such as fagri, dorado, octopus and red mullet. After coming to America, he was inspired to create a spot where he could “bring a taste of Nafpaktos to New York.” Nick Tsoulos is quoted, “There was nothing like it out here – simple Greek dishes made with the best ingredients and incredibly fresh seafood.”  In collaboration with Marc Packer and Nick Pashalis, the first location opened in 2000 on East 48th Street in Midtown East. Quality in every location is a priority, “Our founders are always scouting the world to find the highest caliber products available on the market. We travel to family farms in the Peloponnese for our wild-grown oregano and fruity olive oil that’s a staple in almost every dish and rely on cheese producers in the mountains of Greece for our saganaki, halloumi and feta.”

 Although Avra cuisine is inspired by Greece’s seaside tavernas, many of the recipes were passed down through Tsoulos family. Fresh fish is a prominent feature on the menu with classic favorites like branzino and black sea bass. There is a full raw bar with east and west coast oysters, cherrystone clams and Maine lobster cocktail. Caviar is always an option; Imperial Osetra, with blinis and condiments or with fingerling potatoes and crème fraiche. You may pick your seafood from their ice display that features the in-season catch. Mediterranean gems like fagri, lithrini and wild branzino are also on the menu. Their branzino is from Southern Spain, fagri is from the Aegean Sea and Dover sole from the waters of the North Sea.  The fish is grilled over hot charcoal, deboned and finished with their signature ladolemono sauce.  A delicious spicy choice is Lavraki Ceviche with lime juice, evoo, sesame oil, sriracha oil, endive, green and red peppers, jalapeno, and sesame seeds. Salads are prepared fresh such as the classic horiatiki with plump tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and creamy feta.  Choose from side cooked dishes like Spanakorizo, a spinach rice or Oyster Mushrooms grilled with graviera cheese.  From the Land Menu offers American Wagyu Eye of Ribeye and grilled Lamb Chops. The lamb chops are from Australia and the cuts of beef from small ranches around the United States.

There are many choices for traditional Greek and Mediterranean desserts baked in-house daily with olive oil, such as walnut cakes, baklava and custard. They have a French vanilla ice cream flecked with Tahitian vanilla beans that is a bestseller in all their locations. At Avra Rockefeller Center there is indoor and outdoor dining. Hours are Sunday through Tuesday 11 am to 11 pm. Wednesday through Saturday 11 am to 12 am.