My mother’s lone request on her visit to NYC last week was pasticcio at a Greek restaurant. I didn’t have a go to spot for Greek. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever had Greek. I know the “best” Greek is in Queens, a statement I plan to validate in warmer weather, but decided to try Pylos.
Located in the East Village just south of Saint Mark’s Place, Pylos describes itself as “rustic Greek home cooking”. A friend had highly recommended. I called at the last minute and was able to get a reservation for 7pm. Otherwise, they only had 9 available. And this was on a Tuesday night.
When we walked in, I was instantly impressed with the décor. The ceiling is comprised of suspended clay pots assembled to make a solid layer. Two-top tables extend back the length of the restauraunt. The restaurant is almost an inverted L shape, with the bar and a few additional tables located in the bend.
Service was prompt. We were quickly greeted by a warm basket of fresh pita bread and a dip similar to hummus but a little too chickpea-ish for yours truly. It was obviously very fresh though.
We started with a Greek salad, which was served true to the classic presentation. The wedges of feta were soft yet flavorful, accented by just a hint of herbs and olive oil. The cucumbers were the best, having taken on the best flavors from the other surrounding elements.
I’d never had pasticcio, but had heard it described as a Greek spin on lasagna. I’ll say that’s a pretty good explanation, and henceforth I definitely prefer to have my lasagna with that sinfully delicious bechamel sauce. Unlike some lasagna I’ve had where the different layers are pronounced, the different elements in the pasticcio seemed to meld together in each bite. The meat was tender and wasn’t in those small tough clumps you sometimes encounter in such dishes. Main dishes on average were pretty standard for a nicer Manhattan restaurant and were $17-$22. Appetizer plates ranged from $9-$13 per dish.
My main complaint was on the overall service. There was almost always someone at our table, whether it was to bring food, to pour our coke cans, or to try to take plates away. While I’m all in favor of good service, sometimes it can also swing in the other direction, as was the case here. We just felt smothered – like we couldn’t actually take time to enjoy the food. It was almost as if we were being pushed out for the next round of patrons which, even if the case, shouldn’t be so apparent to the patron.
I do want to return. I’ve since heard nothing but amazing things about their desserts (recommendations to the point of “you should skip a main course, get an appetizer, and try two desserts”). Instead, I think I would opt to come earlier and sit at the bar. Perhaps try some of their wine, which they explained were only Greek wines, and one of those fabulous desserts. I’ll let someone else have my actual seat at a table, thank you.
Pylos – 128 East 7th St (between Ave A and 1st Ave) – 212.473.0220