There is a red hot mama heading the kitchen at her namesake restaurant, Maria’s, which is a welcome addition to “restaurant row” on Bell Boulevard in Bayside.
The cuisine is Greek fusion, which means the adventurous menu brings the best of many worlds to your table. They describe their menu of Greek specialties with a grill influenced by Southern Brazil.
The family-owned and operated restaurant is occupying the space that was previously Pelagos. Maria and her family totally gutted the space and created a warm and welcoming environment. The cranberry tablecloths feature fresh flowers and the walls are covered with old photos from Greece of Maria’s ancestors. It’s a charming touch that made me feel like I was dining in her home.
As soon as we sat down warm crusty bread and rich olive oil dip and olives were delivered to the table. We were a party of four and ordered a variety of dishes beginning with what turned out to be mouth-watering appetizers. My favorites were many. Of course there is the traditional Greek salad loaded with feta cheese that could feed three people. There were other choices I never had before and I was impressed with the Laxano salad made of their sliced cabbage with roasted peppers. I also loved the Prasini, a chopped romaine with scallions, dill and crumbled feta.
The antipasto of traditional Greek spreads was served with toasted pita bread. A great way to sample those tasty treats.
But then there are the flavorful appetizers, from Oysters Rockefeller, to fried cheese, to fried zucchini to the best fried calamari I ever tasted – crunchy yet tender, a “must order” dish. I was also impressed with the grilled and fried octopus.
Although the appetizers could be a meal, we were soon on to the wide selection of chicken, pork, lamb (their signature dish), and fish, all grilled to perfection.
Maria’s specialties are also not to be missed. Each day she makes spinach pie too tempting to resist.
There is a wide choice of seafood and I had, for the first time, tiny pan-seared red mullets. I pulled out the bone and was delighted with the light, flavorful fish.
Every entry is served with soup or salad, rice or fresh cut French fries.
Most entrees are under $20 with large portions. Wine and beer are served and the choices of reasonably-priced bottles are expanding every week.
No meal is complete without dessert and they have the best baked apple and an awesome galaktoboureko, a custard honey dish not to be missed.
But along with the Maria’s marvelous dishes comes the warm hospitable, professional serving staff, including her son and daughter.
With this team in place you know the dining experience will make you want to return. I will.
Try it, you’ll love it.
Bayside, NY 11361
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Seven days a week
Credit Cards: All majors accepted
Catering: Available for all occasions
Parking: Valet and on street