Story by Barbara Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis
1 Pershing Road
Weehawken, NJ 07086
It has been affirmed over and over again that location is everything. Well, in the case of Molos Restaurant - situated at the water’s edge in Weehawken, New Jersey, the first exit out of the Lincoln Tunnel - with an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, location is only part of the story. Day or night, but especially at sunset, the view itself is worthy of a visit. The food is the other part of the story! With Executive Chef Gregory Zapantis overseeing the kitchen, the stunning New York City view at night with its multi-colored lights dancing on the still waters of the Hudson River, is just the crowning glory to an impressive gastronomic dining experience. After enjoying Greek cooking, initially at my mother-in-law's table, and at dozens of restaurants both in Greece and the States since then, I thought I had experienced every variation of Greek cuisine – home cooking to gourmet and everything in between. But still, Chef Gregory managed to surprise and delight with unusual parings of ingredients, preparation and presentation.
Chef Gregory is an award winning chef/restaurateur and former corporate executive chef and operating manager at Kellari Hospitality Group. He has appeared on many TV programs such as WNBC, CBS, ELLAsTV, and the Cooking Channel, and his work has been featured in national magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets. He honed his innovative skills at such famous New York restaurants as Estiatorio Milos, Avra, Thalassa, and Kellari Taverna before joining father-daughter team Jerry and Eliana Stefanitsis at their waterfront location previously occupied by Arthur’s Landing. This 12,000 square foot multi-level industrial chic space serves lunch, brunch, dinner, and caters private events.
Featuring Mediterranean specialties and using only organic produce and meat sourced from top local purveyors plus a seafood bar and fresh fish flown in daily from around the world, guarantees that whether your taste buds yearn for food from land or sea, you will find it artfully served at Molos. While we perused the dinner menu we were served char-grilled olive bread, with small plates of humus, herbed calamata olives and mild tasting radishes to whet our appetite. There were so many good choices that we finally left it up to Chef Gregory to deliver a tasting (his choice) menu.
As is the Greek custom, our meal began with a sampling of small plates and dips; Greek village salad (Horiatiki) looking and tasting the way it should - but rarely does - with ripe heirloom tomatoes, crispy cucumbers and peppers, slivered red onions, pitted olives, quality feta cheese and the unusual but perfectly satisfying watercress greens; Sashimi grade char-grilled octopus served with caramelized onions and eggplant puree; baby grilled calamari with herb aioli; and Chef’s house specialty of grilled scallop wrapped in kataifi (shredded wheat) and served with an olive oil and lemon sauce – a truly spectacular taste, crispy outside, silky tender inside, with lemon tinged flavor balancing the mild scallop. All the while we were drinking Ouzo and watching the ferries crossing to and fro from Weehawken to New York through the floor to ceiling windows facing Manhattan.
The grand meze was a meal in itself and I was feeling full with the appetizer sized portions of the small plates. But then came the main course of Lavraki (Mediterranean Sea Bass) perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious. Chef pared the mild white fish with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe (rapini) with garlic and feta, adding complexity to the dish.
By that time the restaurant was emptying out and Chef Gregory had a chance to come out of the kitchen for a chat. We spoke of his home on the rugged Greek island of Cephalonia, his passion for food, his love of family and his culture, and his hope for Molos as a haven for Greek and non-Greek alike to find authentic food in a glamorous setting. We ended the evening with traditional Greek pastries delivered in a non-traditional way. There was a large triangle of Baklava and another of Galaktoboureko – both made in the restaurant and absolutely outstanding – and served with a side of pomegranate seeds and cherry vanilla ice cream topped with a mint leaf… and of course sweet and double boiled “Ellinikos Kafés” (Greek coffee).
© January 2015 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.