It didn’t take a pandemic for Constantine Kalandranis to recognize that dining trends were shifting. After eight years as chef/owner of Nyack’s 8 North Broadway, Kalandranis increasingly found that diners were looking to spend less and get away from the formal feel of fine dining. “Before COVID, people would come for their anniversary or every two or three months. We had regulars but they weren’t coming often,” he says. “At the same time COVID hit, I had an issue with the town where I had to put in a sprinkler system and rip everything down. We made some money off takeout and [decided] let’s paint, flip it, and have some fun.”
Enter The Greekish, which opened in the renovated space in September. A tribute to Kalandranis’ roots — “My father’s a real Greeky Greek; my mom is from New York,” he muses — the small-plates menu is comprised of mezze, the vast majority of which are priced at less than $15.
Each section of the menu features modern riffs on familiar Greek and Mediterranean favorites. Start with spreads, including meltingly tender, slow-roasted, harissa-spiced eggplant, and silky smooth yellow-split-pea hummus infused with plenty of lemon and olive oil. Continue with selections from the raw bar, such as oysters with horseradish mignonette, tuna tabbouleh, or lobster salad stuffed into one of Kalandranis’ superb, puffy, house-made pita.
Vegetables include the cheekily named Diner Tomato & Feta Salad, charred Brussels sprouts with oregano and feta, and must-order “cauliflower crack” that could convert even brassica haters. A handful of more expensive, larger plates includes grilled branzino, oregano hanger steak, and sizzling Spanish octopus (a customer favorite from 8 North Broadway).
The wine list features nearly all Greek wines. “We have some really awesome grapes from Crete, Macedonia, and Thessaloniki,” says Kalandranis. “Wine from Greece was either very expensive or wasn’t very good quality until five or 10 years ago. [But now,] if you seek it out, there’s some really good stuff.”
A short list of craft cocktails showcases traditional Greek ingredients, including an ouzo sour, made with the anise-flavored aperitif and fresh grapefruit juice, served in a coupe glass rimmed with sumac.
As if Kalandranis hasn’t instituted enough change, he’s also shaking up staffing. “[With COVID-19,] as far as the business model goes, you have to be very careful. Instead of having [a larger staff], we’re just hiring four managers. Everyone gets paid well. No more tipping, but we tripled their salaries,” he explains. “If anyone wants to leave more, it goes toward a bonus program, [which helps cover the cost] if they get a promotion or paid vacation. I just started this at [273 Kitchen in Harrison], and I’ve already been able to give out two promotions and three bonuses.”
Open Wed—Mon, 4–9 p.m.; lunch service slated to begin this month
8 N Broadway, Nyack; 845.353.1200; www.thegreekish.com