Originally, from Ioannina, a Northern part of Greece, Angelo Haskis moved to America when he was 14-years-old by himself to find a better life. It was then he began his career in the kitchen immediately, including restaurants in Bellmore and Hicksville before settling in to Whitestone to open the Mediterranean Grill on November 21, 2008.
Maryann met Angelo through friends; her parents were also in the food business with restaurants in NYC, and they’ve made this place their first joint operation since marrying not too long ago. “The Mediterranean Diet is the healthiest diet ever,” Maryann explained about the cuisine. “It’s a way of eating for longevity. That’s what we were raised with.”
Aside from being an owner, Angelo is also the chef and controls the produce and meats that come in every day. One of the key items that sets him apart from his competitors is the Athenian extra-virgin olive oil that no one else in the five boroughs uses.
We started with Saganaki, which derives from the Greek word Sagani, a type of frying pan, is broiled to give it a rich golden crust on this warm and comforting salty rectangle. The obligatory Hummus and Tzatziki made their cameo on the table, both thick with slight lemon flavors peeking behind its creamy base ingredients. The hummus was a table favorite, the first plate to reveal its white underbelly upon completion.
The Spanakopita, or Spinach Pie, is made in the traditional way with fresh spinach, garlic, leeks, extra-virgin olive oil and feta cheese. In Angelo’s hometown, Spanakopita is the native food, and women in the town would get up at dawn to roll the phyllo dough by hand for the flaky savory pastry. This spinach pie was a harmonious blend of simple and fresh ingredients not competing for attention in your mouth.
Plump stuffed tomatoes, one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, bursting with rice, onion, green peppers and potatoes, were soft and sweet. We had these with lemon potatoes, slightly browned on the tips but as soft as mashed potatoes on the inside.
A trifecta of grilled meats was our first entree from Angelo’s kitchen, seared Romanian steak, grilled chicken and pork tenderloins. These were served with spinach rice, another signature item on the menu, nutritious brown rice with shredded spinach, cooked together similar to an Italian risotto.
Pastichio, a type of casserole made with tubular pasta, ground beef seasoned with nutmeg and paprika, and topped with a thick bechamel sauce, was more than filling. Another healthy alternative was their Turkey Lasagna, a block of fresh ground lean turkey meat layered with noodles and homemade marinara sauce, doused in cream on the top instead of cheese.
Fresh seafood is also on the menu, including grilled Tilapia, salmon, snapper, grilled octopus and fried calamari, as well as a variety of wraps and sandwiches.
When I asked what makes this restaurant unique, Angelo explained, “This restaurant is like a neighborhood restaurant.” Maryann finished his thought. “It’s like visiting family.”
160-24 Willets Point Boulevard
Whitestone, NY 11357
Telephone: 718-281-4210 or 4211
11 a.m. - 11 p.m.