Michael Psilakis' Guide to Greek Food and Ingredients in New York City
You could call Michael Psilakis one of New York's ambassadors of Greek cuisine. As the son of a first generation traditional Greek family on Long Island, Psilakis learned to roast whole lambs on a spit at a young age, an experience that inspired his 2009 cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb. As chef and owner of Kefi and FISHTAG, he's introduced the flavors of his childhood to the Upper West Side, and soon he'll be on home turf in Astoria, when he opens MP Taverna next month. He took a few minutes to share where he likes to shop for and eat the food he grew up with.
When I need to buy my Greek essentials—olive oil, olives, yogurt—I have to go to Titan. This Mediterranean triplex is the only one of its kind in the US, and they have all of my favorite ingredients from Greece.
I get all of my meats, especially lamb and pig, from Krinos (which is available at Titan). The people there know what I want, and it is always a high quality guarantee. Plaza Meat in Astoria is another great butcher, and I go there a lot. The meat is great, and reasonably priced, and you cannot find better raw souvlaki anywhere.
Astor Wines has the best—and biggest—assortment of Greek wines in New York. With a wide variety of whites and reds from vineyards throughout Greece, it's easy to find your favorites and to stay on the lookout for something new.
I am a big fan of Dodoni Feta, and I can always find enough of it at Euro Market in Astoria. This is the best packaged cheese in the world, and I use it in everything.
Though it is hard to find Greek pastries that are better than my mother's, I do enjoy the selection at Artopolis Bakery in Astoria. They have everything you could want, from baklava to samali, and everything tastes just like it should.
When I'm in Astoria, which is now more than ever, it's hard to pass up a souvlaki from the King Souvlaki street vendor. I don't know the guy's name but this one cart has some of the best souvlaki I've ever had.
Though I don't get out to eat much, when I do I like to go to Molyvos. It's the kind of place where I order Avgolemono (lemon and egg soup) because it's such a classic take on one of my favorite dishes from when I was a kid.
When I want to celebrate, Estiatorio Milos is one of my favorite places. Their approach to authentic Greek dining is fantastic, and it's obvious how carefully each ingredient is prepared.
As for traditional Greek cuisine, I am a big fan of Taverna Kyclades. The classic Greek grill serves up great seafood, and at great prices.