Kefi-A Touch of Greece in Manhattan

Kefi, Chef Michael Psilakis and partner Donatella Arpaia’s rustic Greek gem, is an Upper West Side destination with a cult-like following. Having tripled in size in December 2008 by relocating to a larger, bi-level space Kefi feeds throngs of hungry “Kefers” every night as they line up to delight in the Michelin-starred Psilakis’ authentic and affordable Greek fare. “The dishes on Kefi’s menu originated in my childhood home and now that Kefi’s home is bigger, I’m able to share those memories with more people,” says chef/owner Michael Psilakis.

Kefi’s 200-seat interior evokes the feeling of a palatial Greek hideaway broken up into several smaller dining rooms to keep the intimate appeal. Upon entrance, the bar area appears to be an outdoor patio with a 15-seat bar crafted from bulkhead-style wood beams fastened by metal rivets. A wall of wood shelving filled with bottles of Greek wine has a rolling ladder made for fetching them. The first floor dining room, outfitted with blue-and-white-patterned upholstered banquets and sea blue wooden shutters, beguiles a theme carried throughout the expansive, two-story space. Design elements such as Turkish tin plates, wall lanterns, and gigantic Greek pottery add color and warmth to the room. The focal point of the main dining room is a large blue-hued mosaic of a wave, reflecting a distinctly Mediterranean feel.

Downstairs lies two intimate dining rooms separated by floor-to-ceiling sliding barn doors. The first room, adorned with more eclectic touches seats 38 and leads to the second room, designed to evoke the feel of a backyard patio. This space, which seats 68, is ideal for private parties.

The menu offers signature dishes like Baccala, crispy-fried cod with garlic potatoes and tomato, Grilled Octopus with bean salad, and Hilopita, baked pasta with rabbit ragout and béchamel. Additions include Grilled Sardines with chopped “Greek Salad” and garlic sauce, Macaronia Spestofai, tubular pasta with Greek sausage, peppers, onions, tomato and feta and a section of Greek Sandwiches features house-made sausages and pork and lamb gyro. Kefi is open for lunch and Sunday brunch and offers a family-style take-out menu designed to feed up to six people for as little as $8 per person and delivery of all menu items for lunch, brunch and dinner.

 

Kefi is located at 505 Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. For reservations call 212-873-0200. For more information visit www.kefirestaurant.com. By Jessica Rosen.

- Ray Greene
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