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Today I’m speaking with Alex, the owner of Athenian Greek Taverna in Commack NY. Alex is half Italian and half Greek so there’s no mystery about his passion for food. We talk a lot about of memories of our parents and grandparents cooking in the kitchen. How the smell of something familiar can whisk you away to your youth.
Alex tells us how food can break all barriers which reminds of the late great Anthony Boudain and how he would use food to explore different cultures and break down religious and political barriers.
Watch the Athenian Greek Taverna Interview
About Athenian Greek Taverna
Athenian Greek Taverna is a fairly new operation in its current state. After 20 years in business Alex moved across the street to expand the operation including more seating, a full bar, upscale decor and an updated menu.
The women in Alex’s life certainly played a role in his passion for food. His mother, grandmother and aunts all spent time cooking. He reminisces about the big family gatherings where his Mom would be cooking and playing music. Seeing the joy she got from cooking left a lasting impression for Alex. It’s why he has such a welcoming attitude towards breaking bread with like minded “foodies” who understand the connections of food and family.
Alex explains how in the early days of catering, Greek food wasn’t as widely accepted. He would educate customers by explaining the similarities to Italian cuisine, the simple fresh ingredients and how the food is prepared. Many foods are similar but different based on geography. How similar is the taco to a gyro? I”ll leave that debate up to you.
Authentic Greek Food in Commack
I asked Alex to tell me what are the flavors that make Greek food authentic. He again gets back to the origins of using fresh, simple ingredients like oregano, fresh lemon, good olive oil, salt and pepper. There’s not a lot of magic in what happens with the ingredients. It’s the preparation and care in planning the menu and the dishes that really matter.
Many of these traditional dishes take all day to prepare. Think about your stews and pot roasts that David Chang would call “ugly delicious.” One of the standouts on the Athenian Green Taverna menu is the whole lamb Alex roasts every Friday. It’s as traditional as you can get!
During these challenging times Alex is fortunate to have experience operating an extensive takeout business. Now it’s all about family meals like their rotisserie chicken packages. Athenian Greek Taverna is also showing their creativity with their cocktail menu offering frosé, frozen peach Arnold Palmers, and two-fer cocktails to go from their bar window.