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Photos courtesy of Akrotiri
Photos courtesy of Akrotiri
Chef Nicholas Poulmentis runs Akrotiri, a Greek restaurant in Astoria.

Though Astoria has an abundance of Greek restaurants, Chef Nicholas Poulmentis of newly opened Akrotiri, is hoping to serve dishes not found in other neighborhood eateries.

Akrotiri officially opened on March 15 at 29-20 30th Ave. The restaurant, which is owned by Chris Kouvaros, is named after an ancient Greek city on the island of Santorini that was buried in volcanic ash.

The city is also believed to be the inspiration behind Plato’s Atlantis — and to honor this, the menu features a large variety of fish dishes.

Poulmentis, who is from the island of Kythira, grew up working in restaurants and received a degree in culinary arts. To round out his culinary education, he spent 15 years traveling through France, England and Italy learning different cooking and pastry techniques. 

After his travels, he came back to Greece, where he operated a restaurant in Kythira. But in 2012, he moved his family to Astoria after the country began experiencing economic difficulties.

“I started working and went back to [being a] line cook until I proved myself,” he said. 

File Mar 07, 9 55 33 AM

He certainly proved himself when, in 2012, he was chosen to cook a meal at the White House for Greek Independence Day.

“It was a crazy experience,” Poulmentis said. “It was cool, I have photos with the dog [Bo]. [Former Vice President Joe] Biden was coming in the kitchen. I had a very nice time.” 

Poulmentis worked at restaurants in the city, including Kellari Taverna and Theo’s before meeting Kouvaros through a mutual friend, who happened to be the chef’s fish provider.

“I [spoke] with Chris [and explained] this is what I’m trying to do with food and I wanted to it to be natural, new recipes, new items,” he said. 

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The unique menu items include volvi, an appetizer of baby pickled onions flown in from Crete, htapodokeftedes, fried octopus with lemon dill aioli (the aioli is made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo) and htenia, scallops in a squid ink linguini pasta with a white saffron emulsion. The pasta for his dishes is made in-house.

“I took recipes from all over Greece and I made them smaller and infused them together [to] marry the south and the north of Greece,” he said. 

Poulmentis takes pride in his ingredients, which he says are “selected daily” and “high quality.”

“What I want [diners] to know is that the food they are eating is super fresh and unique,” he said. 

For diners who would rather their entrees have lived on land, Akrotiri offers dishes such as souvlaki anihto with organic chicken, pita, tzatziki and roasted potatoes, a lamb chops dish, a strip steak or a Greek burger which includes tomato, marouli slaw, crispy shallots, smoked metsovone cheese, tzatziki and fresh-cut fries.

Akrotiri Greek Bezes

The menu also includes a raw bar with a choice of a daily selection of seasonal oysters, a seafood tower and shrimp cocktail.

Desserts include karidopita, a walnut cake with a sweet syrup and portokalopita, a “very unique” yogurt cake with syrup infused with orange zest. 

According to Poulmentis, Akrotiri’s wine menu is also one-of-a-kind and also includes a variety of Greek wines, many which are not carried in Greek restaurants around Astoria. Options include Terra Ambera, an orange wine made on the island of Lemnos, Assyrtiko Karamolegos, a wine made on the island of Santorini, and Melanthia (meaning black flower), which is a dessert wine made with grapes grown near Mount Olympus. 

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Though the menu isn’t expansive like other Greek restaurants, Poulmentis said he wants to emphasize the quality of his food.

“It’s completely different from all the restaurants in Astoria because of the quality, this I can tell you 100 percent, even though the prices are the same as other places,” he said. “I want people to know the uniqueness of the ingredients what we use here.” 

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