When you have a aching for Greek food, there's only one neighborhood to go to: Astoria but there's so many places to choose from once you're there. I've found a few great ones, like Zenon Taverna, and they're all very unique in their cooking. S'agapo is a new one for me and one I will be recommending to people for years to come. First, they take reservations, which is a god send if you've ever stood in line hungry at the wonderful nearby Taverna Kyclades.
We got a table for six but with a menu this enticing, we ate for about double that. The appetizers were especially hard to resist and we filled ourselves with grilled marinated octopus that was laugh out loud yummy and tender. Next were the cheese and mint dumplings with drizzled honey – that I expected to be like the Afghan version Mantu, but came out looking like plump empanadas only twice as light and fluffy.
The dip selection (get a large if you have more than a few people) was exceptional with my favorite – taramasalata, a decent hummus, a smoky babaganoush, and a few less typical ones like roasted red pepper spread, a parsley mixture, and an interesting dip made of chopped grape leaves. An equally unique half pear half cucumber hybrid accompanied.
Our entree, a huge seafood plate for two was good. Simple preparation (olive oil, lemon, salt pepper) and fresh fish (salmon, calamari, swordfish, scallops, shrimp) is always a great combo, but it wasn't quite as wow as the appetizers. My friends enjoyed their lamb chops and grilled octopus. Amazingly we still managed to stuff in a dessert, a warm custard with a phyllo dough crust that was enough for us to all share.
It has a definite grandma, grandpa feel to it, but cool grandparents that lived it up in the day more than you or I. In the bathroom my friend found a framed nude charcoal drawing of (possibly) one of the owners looking stunning. The service was friendly and helpful but not phony and the other owner, who sat quietly and dignified over the books even sent over a shot of vodka which was very, very kind of him. It's a place that takes deserved pride in their food, even their olive oil is home made.
We really splurged on all that food plus drinks and the bill came out to about 50 per person, but a lesser fatty with more self control than the bunch of us could walk away satisfied for a lot less.