New age philosopher Deepak Chopra tells us that “All great changes are preceded by chaos,” a maxim that was certainly true for the owners of 8 North Broadway, a gem of a restaurant that opened in Nyack in December 2012. “We had a baby and we opened the restaurant the same month. We actually closed on the deal the day before Hurricane Sandy hit,” says owner and Executive Chef Constantine Kalandranis.
But no trace of chaos remains in this trim, classy eatery where Kalandranis and his team put out beautifully fresh, flavorful fare in a casually elegant setting. The wavy edge of the long copper bar pays homage to the sea, the source of many of the restaurant’s standout dishes. Those waves are echoed in the frieze that sits atop a trio of black framed mirrors set into the exposed brick wall behind the bar. Glasses sparkle, and fresh flowers add splashes of color throughout the dining room.
The food is authentic Mediterranean, and the underlying philosophy is firmly farm — and fishing line — to table. “We try to feature really fresh ingredients in a minimalistic way,” says Kalandranis. “Lots of olive oil in the summer months and crudo fish when it’s hyper fresh from the market. We have a daily changing menu so we can be inspired by tradition or just a creative moment.”
The reverence that Kalandranis and his cousin, Chef de Cuisine Hichem Habbas, share for good food is obvious in every bite you take as well as in their artful presentation. The hugely popular seared Spanish octopus served over a bed of Israeli couscous and lightly charred vegetables in a red wine vinaigrette (the veggies change on a daily basis depending on what’s fresh) arrives sizzling in a small cast-iron skillet. “We wanted to get the wonderful aroma we smell when we start to roast it,” Kalandranis says. “So we sizzle it at the table, and the smell just kind of envelops the diner.”
But it would be a mistake to let the seafood dishes blind you to the meat and poultry, which are chosen with care from local providers and prepared with the same care and creativity that the diver scallops, tuna, and octopus receive. The whole roasted organic guinea hen from New Jersey’s Goffle Road Poultry Farm, accompanied by artfully cooked vegetables that change with the seasons, is a favorite that stays on the menu all year. And the tender, tomato-braised lamb with white eggplant, garlic, and olives will push any thought of fish firmly out of your mind.
In fact, everything on the menu is so good that choosing can be a painful process. Fortunately, there’s an option tailor-made for those of us who have trouble making a decision: The chef’s selection of daily mezze lets you sample nine seasonal items and comes with delicious, house-made pita and crostini. If you’re lucky, one of the nine generous squares on the large white china platter will be heaped with tsatziki, the creamy cucumber-garlic-yogurt sauce that is a mainstay of Mediterranean cuisine. Kalandranis takes his tzatziki very seriously and has spent many years perfecting his recipe. You may also receive a few oysters that were hand-picked that morning; freshly shucked; and dressed with sea salt, horseradish, and a delicious seasonal mignonette. When praise gets handed out, Kalandranis is quick to share the credit, saying “Hichem is in charge of all the execution and a lot of the creativity.”
But Habbas is just one of many family members who help make 8 North Broadway special. Kalandranis’ wife does the marketing and handles all of the final details, and his sister, father-in-law, and other cousins also work at the restaurant. Yet another cousin, Richard Mitchell, is the general manager and runs the front of the house. “They call Rich the wine whisperer because he’s really great at suggesting wines that go so well with the food. He has this wine on tap system that we’re very proud of. And he gets these really unique, niche biodynamic products,” says Kalandranis.
The drinks menu focuses on local wines and craft beers (all on tap) as well as wines from France and Italy and seasonal mixed drinks.
If you’re looking for an excuse to visit 8 North Broadway, there are lots to choose from. In addition to hosting events with local wineries and breweries, they also offer a Monday night supper club, Why Not Tuesdays (bottles of wine are half off), and Dollar Oyster Wednesdays. On Sundays, there’s brunch followed by live jazz that starts around 4 p.m.
The Crowd: Nyack locals mixing with folks from New Jersey, Westchester, and Connecticut. “We get artists, celebrities, spike-haired, tattoos, and distinguished older ladies,” says Kalandranis. “It’s a real mix.”
Don’t Miss: The mezze platter and the octopus.
The Basics: Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner daily, Sunday brunch. Small plates $6-$12; appetizers, salads, and crudo $11-$15, entrées $17-$37
8 North Broadway
8 N. Broadway, Nyack