The authentic flavors of Greece are taking over Manhattan in the form of chic bakeries, offering desserts, coffee, pies and other tidbits .
Fournos Theophilos, a Greek bakery, restaurant and market has debuted about a year ago in Midtown Manhattan, bringing with it mouth-watering Mediterranean flavors in an interesting and multi-purposed setting sprawled on two floors.
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as quick bites prepared by chefs Yannis Tsiakos and Dionisis Liakopoulos, both from Greece. The ground floor of the 5,200-square-foot space at 45 W. 45th St., between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, has been designed as a fast-casual venue, while the upstairs portion is reserved for table-service seating.
Pastries and sandwiches are served on the first floor, offering a variety of Greek pies, such as “spanakopita” (spinach pie) and “pie cups,” which Liakopoulos describes as a deconstructed version of traditional Greek pies. A yogurt bar is also located there, as well as a separate market offering a selection of gourmet products like olive oil and Kalamata olives, and spreads for purchase. Coffee, milkshakes, and smoothies are also available.
An open kitchen sits at the back of the space, where diners can order larger entrees, salads, sides, and soups. Take-out is also offered, and a brunch menu is in the works.
As for the interior, it is inspired from Greek bakeries with white tiles, natural wood, and black metal decor. Fournos Theophilos is meant to be a broader showcase of Greek food that matches authentic recipes from Greece and will definitely give newyorkers the opportunity to get to know the real taste of the Mediterranean.
Fournos Theophilos: 45 West 45th Street, New York, Tel.: +1 212 278 0015
Brooklyn-born Regina Katopodis has been a co-owner of Astoria’s excellent Artopolis Bakery for 11 years, but she’s always wanted to own a pastry shop in Manhattan. Now, with the opening of Pi Bakerie, a lovely, lofty, sky-lit space that’s part counter-service café, part production facility, her dream has come to fruition. The original concept was to serve only round pies, both sweet and savory, but as construction progressed, she and her partners decided that that would not do. As a result, Pi Bakerie offers not only savory tarts such as Green Harvest Pi (with spinach, feta cheese and cabbage), but also savory moussaka, Greek yogurt and salad and sweet desserts that include a homemade filo pastry. Mediterranean culture is the protagonist and traditional recipes are modified without ever losing their genuineness, resulting in unique products that are perfected year after year and which harmoniously combine the legacy of each of Greece’s regions.
Except for various Greek preserves and spices and the taffy-thick strained yogurt that comes from Montreal, everything’s totally made by hand on the premises by an all-star kitchen crew: Head chef Giannis Tompas, late of Loi restaurant on the Upper West Side, gets an assist from pastry specialist Aleksandros Shytani, a master of phyllo and spanakopita from Athens. Katopodis has even recruited a Turkish baklava maven.
Pi Bakerie: 512 Broome St, New York, Tel.: +1 212 226 2701.
GFG Bakery Café
With already three locations in Manhattan and another one opening soon in 1st Avenue, GFG Bakery Café (GFG means Greek From Greece) is, as its owners, Giannis Chitos and George Drossos, state, a place where one can find “good food”. In fact, the two businessmen have a long history in the F&B sector; Mr Drossos an entrepreneur in foodservice chains such as Chillbox and Goody’s –both brands rather famous in Greece– and Mr Chitos from the beverage industry, responsible for the revival of the Fix beer (one of the oldest and historic beers in the country).
According to them, GFG Bakery Café is a place where they will be able to share good food with the rest of the world. “Our Greek From Greece Bakery and Cafe is a reincarnation of our culinary and baking past, on a mission to make every neighborhood we settle in a bit more like home where you can always count on simply good food!”
In fact, 80-90% of the products sold in the bakeries come from Greece, items which include freshly-baked savory pies, Greek delights such as delicious galaktoboureko and baklavas, Greek yogurt, EVOOs, salads and even the strong Greek coffee.
GFG Bakery Café: 749 9th Ave, New York, Tel.: +1 646 590 8660 – 168 William St, New York, Tel.: +1 646 992 2911 – 32 Broadway, New York, Tel.: +1 212 452 6119.