Taverna brings Greek meals to Gramercy

March 13, 2013

Click the image above for more photos of Taverna.

Gramercy’s Lyric Diner is no more, but there’s little reason to fret. In its place, as of Feb. 18, the same owners bring us Taverna, a fine yet affordable restaurant serving delicious Greek cuisine with refreshing authenticity.

From the tasty ingredients — many of which are imported straight from Greece — to the friendly, prompt and mostly Greek wait staff, Taverna can best be described as a truly ethnic Greek experience.

Manager George Theodosiou describes Taverna as “a little more ethnic compared to other Greek restaurants in the city.”

“We’re a good 20 to 30 percent cheaper price wise,” he said.

Inside Taverna you’ll find simple yet elegant table settings, a professional and pleasant staff, and quaint Mediterranean touches, all before you glance at the menu. Every dish is uniquely and freshly crafted, from the avgolemono ($7), a traditional egg-lemon soup, to Horiatiki ($14), a classic Greek salad with chunky vegetables and Taverna’s signature vinaigrette.

Theodosiou said the moussaka ($14 for the lunch portion) is a traditional specialty at Taverna made with “layers of potato, eggplant and ground beef, with béchamel [a French sauce made of flour and eggs] and melted Greek cheese.” He explained that the secret recipe comes straight from the kitchen of the head chef’s grandmother.

Although Taverna’s predecessor, Lyric Diner, was loved by many, Theodosiou explained that after 17 years the owners decided it was time to try something different. And although Taverna is vastly different from Lyric Diner in terms of look, feel and menu selection, the owners are still striving to provide quality dishes at reasonable prices. And not all of the past is gone. The exterior of the building — the side facing 22nd Street — still maintains the look of Lyric Diner, sign and all.

“It’s a landmark,” said Theodosiou. “It touches people in the area.”

Theodosiou says that there are high hopes for Taverna’s reception among New York City diners, especially in Gramercy, a neighborhood not typically known for its abundance of noteworthy restaurants. Particularly, he explained that former customers “come back to the see previous Lyric Diner … and they’re very surprised. And they like the changes.”

Jessica Laderman and Kassandra Carrion, juniors in the College of Arts and Science, both agreed that Taverna was not only within college students’ budgets but also delicious and fun.

Carrion loved the Solomos ($17), a grilled fillet of salmon with marinated, cooked vegetables.

“This is such a simple dish, but the way they cooked it is really what made it pop,” she said.

“The service was fantastic,” Laderman said. “Our waiter was very knowledgeable and friendly and willing to help us because none of us had eaten Greek food before. And the prices were definitely reasonable.”

Taverna will be offering delivery services in two weeks through the websites Seamless and Delivery.com, as well as introducing a new brunch menu.

Taverna is located at 283 Third Ave. It opens at 11:30 a.m. daily.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Mar. 13 print edition. Alex Cass is a contributing writer. Email her at dining@nyunews.com.

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