by Aria Socratous.
Molyvos has established itself as a destination restaurant in Manhattan, and has built a loyal following building its reputation as one of the most renowned Greek restaurants in New York City. Nestled in Manhattan’s Midtown West neighborhood, just a block away from Carnegie Hall, Molyvos was a pioneer when it first opened, 20 years ago, bringing rustic Greek cuisine to a new level of elegance and sophistication amid décor inspired by Greece’s romantic seaside villages. Its name was inspired by the seaside village on the Greek island of Lesvos where the Livanos family roots originate.
Molyvos is known throughout Manhattan for its rustic Greek country cooking. Executive Chef Carlos Carreto takes diners on a Grecian culinary journey through a variety of mezedes and appetizers, as well as hyper-local specialty Greek cheese and honey, fresh fish, wild greens and savory pies – all accompanied by the largest all-Greek wine list in the U.S.
The list counts five hundred and fifty Greek wines! It features the most extensive selection of Greek wines available in the United States, boasting an award-winning wine list comprised of more than 500 labels that represent over 50 wineries in Greece. Its comprehensive wine list encourages diners to experiment, including 50 wines by the glass that change regularly and focus on unknown regions in Greece
The restaurant also features 14 different varieties of Greece’s national aperitif, Ouzo, in addition to the wine list, as well as a wide selection of beers from Greece and around the Mediterranean. Between refreshing Ouzo-based cocktails, like the Lesvos Lemonada, and wines only found in Molyvos’ beverage program gives diners an experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.
Nick Livanos and his family started the restaurant business twenty years ago and now twenty years later, the business is still active and successful.
Molyvos provides a big variety of authentic and traditional Greek dishes that are not easy to find in the cosmopolitan environment of NYC such as lahano cabbage, kouneli stifado (braised rabbit with caramelized onions), beets and skordalia, lamb shank yuvetsi. It also provides a large fish selection like lavraki, tsipoura and pink snapper from Greece, black sea bass from Montauk, red snapper from Florida, sardines from Portugal, wild prawns from Guatemala and Dover Sole from Holland.
According to Mr Livanos, all the meals and the deserts are homemade and they are using the most fresh ingredients.
“We decided to open 20 years ago. In 1997. We used to run another restaurant at that time but we always wanted to open a Greek restaurant with my family, my father, my brothers, we always talked about it. When the location presented itself at 7th Ave, it was one of the situations we had to act very quickly, so we signed a lease within a couple of weeks and then we went to Greece and we did additional research. It was something we always wanted to do. We also love our village, Molyvos in Mytilini in which we go every year, so we couldn’t find a better name. We have a family house there which is 100 years old now. It was an inspiration that worked out very successfully in a very short period.
The consistency and the quality in the cooking, the fact that we have the largest Greek wine list is the key of our success. We have almost 600 different Greek wines, all from Greece.
We have a big selection of spreads, tarama, fava Santorini, tomato manouri, melitzanosalata and roasted pumpkin tahini dip. Now that is our 20th anniversary we’ve been featuring some dishes from 20 years ago but the menu is still the same. Herbes, spices, honey, olive oil, vinegar, feta come from Greece. From Mytilini we import feta and ladotyri, smoked feta and olive oil. “Mr Livanos contends.
Molyvos restaurant has strong Greek clientele from all over the world, Australia, US, Canada, Europe that visit the restaurant every time they travel to NYC.
“Our clients are international. We are the first on their lists. Celebrities like Halle Berry and Jessica Sara Parker visit us too.
Mr Livanos believes that Greek cuisine in New York City is more than a trend, it’s a matter of philosophy of the Mediterranean diet, so he recently took the decision to open another Greek restaurant in two months under the name Ousia in Manhattan’s midtown area. The new restaurant is going to offer medium sized plates,, a little bigger than the meze dishes.
Celebrating the lifestyle and food that represents the delicious, healthful way that people in Greece eat, Molyvos’ main goal is to bring filoxenia – the Greek style of hospitality – to the heart of New York City. The warm, friendly service makes guests feel as if they’re in a Greek home and the food forms a paean to the variety and seasonality inherent in Greek cuisine