As a Greek American, I have made rounds across many of the Greek restaurants in New York. However Nerai was one that I only recently have had the pleasure of visiting. Upon walking in I was immediately impressed with the outdoor decor. You are transported to a trendy bar on a Greek island with a very beachy modern aesthetic. You’d almost never know you are right in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
What I love about Nerai is the unique twist they have brought to all relatively common Greek dishes. You’ll see what I mean as you continue reading on.
The dips were so evidently made fresh and very smooth and flavorful. The tuna tartar was unlike any other I have had, once again with very fresh products, and I love the texture elements of the fried kataifi as well as the tanginess that the cream had on top. Some complex flavors but nothing overwhelming and overall a really nice bite.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the spinach pies and found them to be one of the lightest versions of the appetizer I have tried. There was a strong mint profile but I think it was a nice compliment and the phyllo was so light.
While Nerai kept the Greek salad classic, there really was no need to deviate as the ingredients were incredibly fresh and they speak for themselves.
This was an exceptional dish and really unlike any shrimp preparation I have had, especially from a Greek restaurant. I loved again the texture brought in by the kataifi while still being tender and perfectly cooked on the inside. I also love the sweet element of the honey glaze and how it all comes together.
The meatballs were outrageously good as well. The meat was melt in your mouth tender and the sauce it came in was delicious. It had that sweetness of a very slow cooked tomato sauce and it all paired together so nicely.
It has been said you can only judge a Greek restaurant by how well it does its octopus. By this standard, Nerai nailed it once again. The octopus was perfect. It was perfectly cooked and had the right texture. The relish added sweetness which was a nice balance against the char from the grill on the octopus. I even really enjoyed the heavy hand of oregano and think overall it was just very flavorful.
My long winded enthusiasm is shortened for the grilled shrimp and chicken skewers. Don’t get me wrong it is a good plate of food. You get a lot of bang for your buck and a full overall meal covering all your bases – protein, carbs, and veggies. Once again I think that the simple preparation and nice char flavor really let’s it stand out. So while I have no complaints, I just find the other things on the table had more of a wow factor. I will say if you’re between the shrimp and the chicken, go for the shrimp.
ORGANIC CHICKEN SKEWERS
grilled pita, tzatziki, lemon potatoes & cherry tomato salad
The quality of ingredients is a theme still carried through even in dessert. The Greek yogurt was delicious and very fresh tasting. I love the tangy vs sweet taste and loved the creamy consistency.
I also absolutely fell in love with the Karidopita cake which had so much crunch but was almost juicy being soaked in that honey sauce. Just delicious.
A very tough call but finally I think that the saragli was the favorite amongst the three. It was a baklava unlike any I ever had with I believe pistachios being the primary nut and a phyllo that was so buttery and tasted so fresh. It was really a fantastic way to end the meals.
As much as I went on and on about the outdoor setting, the decor inside is equally as stunning with multi-floors and beautiful party rooms for a variety of occasions. One in particular I adore is the wine cellar room, perfect for the most exclusive of business meetings and occasions. If not implicitly implied, be sure to try some of the wine at Nerai, they have a large and wonderful selection. The Tselepos Moschofilero from the Peloponnese was a favorite of mine and the tables.