19 West 44th Street New York NY 10036
(between 5th and 6th Avenue)
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Sunday
(11:30 AM – 4:00 PM)
Monday – Saturday
(4:00 PM – Midnight)
(4:00 PM – 11:00 PM)
Saturday – Sunday
(11:30 AM – 04:00 PM)
Sunday Jazz Brunch Click Here
Make Online Reservations Here
Delicately written above the bar, “Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends” embodies the genuine Greek hospitality that has become a trademark of these two New York gems (the other being the sister restaurant, Kellari Parea Bistro). From the generous staff to the food and decor, a feeling of warmth pervades every element of Kellari Restaurants, where a passion for fine, regional ingredients from the Mediterranean results in fresh cuisine that is both imaginative and traditional. Whole fish, brought in daily from Greece, Portugal, Spain and Latin America, are sold by the pound and proudly displayed for guests, who are encouraged to select their own catch.
With its warm and inviting ambiance and convivial spirit, Kellari Taverna, the Greek word for “cellar,” is reminiscent of a classic Greek taverna with its open kitchen, terracotta walls, and wood-beamed cathedral ceilings. Diners are instantly transported to the “old world” upon viewing the oversized vintner caskets that cap the wrap-around wooden bar and complement the restaurant’s homage to wine. What distinguishes Kellari from other Greek restaurants is the contemporary Hellenic menu, created by Executive Chef Gregory Zapantis, offering a more innovative approach to taverna fare. The menu features traditional Greek ingredients and flavors reinterpreted for the modern palate.
Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, “Kellari offers the best of both worlds,” says owner Stavros Aktipis, “the Greek traditions and flavors that New Yorkers know and love, coupled with innovative and unusual pairings that will set us apart from the competition.”
The knockout Décor: Kellari’s delicacies are graciously served in a setting evocative of a splendid Greek cellar. Innovative Greek architect Yianni Skordas has turned the spacious Kellari interior into a cozy dining environment.
Kellari’s warm and inviting room seats up to 200, including two semi-private rooms for 50-80 people and is drenched in hues of orange and brown, with large wooden beams rescued from an early 1800s Greek revival building in lower Manhattan. The main dining room is adorned with colorful vases, pitchers and candles, while large crates of fresh lemons and limes top the expansive fish display showcasing the fresh “catches of the day.” Rich chocolate brown banquettes are comfortable and inviting; while the billowing sheer curtains add a breezy feel to the room. A second floor balcony, overlooking the dining room, houses Kellari’s vast wine collection with 300 bottles and labels from every Greek purveyor that imports to the United States. Kellari will also have an extensive wine by the glass program, with two to three dozen selections available daily.
Kellari’s back semi-private rooms are reminiscent of a comfortable living room with oversized banquettes, and it can be used for private events or intimate dinner parties. A large wooden armoire, decorated with delicate candles and a treated mirror sets the stage in this romantic environment complete with a leather couch and free standing lamps illuminating the soft orange lighting in the restaurant. In the center of the dining room is a large communal table designed by Ralph Lauren. This wooden table is made from a solid piece of Zembrano wood from Africa and can seat between 14 and 18 people. There could not be a better seat in the house to check out all the action at Kellari
A focus on fresh seafood is matched with a well-developed wine list. Kellari Taverna is a recipient of the Wine Spectator Excellence Award, and offers 250 wines by the bottle, many of them Greek. In fact, with over 100 Greek wines on hand, Kellari Taverna offers its guests the largest collection of Greek wine in New York City. Kellari also specializes in private dining. A recipient of Manhattan’s Finest Private Dining award in 2009, the restaurant has beautiful semi-private rooms and an event-planning staff that is dedicated to helping its patrons celebrate life’s important moments in style.
Kellari signature is thigh-quality, whole-grilled Mediterranean fish, such as the signature Lavraki, a sensational White Snapper, whole Gigantic Shrimp, grilled in their shell and the most tender octopus this side of the Adriatic. There are some slightly more American dishes, like the Maryland Blue Crab cake burger with herbed fries, in an intimate setting that is idyllic for dates and close conversation. Don’t neglect perusing the fresh seafood display before ordering. That’s half the fun and the fish is priced by the pound.
We can’t resist enjoying the beautifully made cocktails (great Martinis) with traditional Greek dips. The combination of our including a light yogurt-cucumber spread, taramasalata (salted and cured roe of cod or carp,dip), smoky eggplant puree and a spicy cheese concoction. The house-made pita bread is exceptional, as is the gratis house-made bread assortment and accoutrements. Other not-to-be-missed starters include the best Spanakopita or Phyllo pies with spinach, leeks & feta we’ve ever tasted and Cretan olive oil-infused sashimi-grade Tuna with caviar mousse or the freshest East & West Coast Oysters imaginable.
With our entrees, the exquisite Lavraki "The Greek Pride" loup de mer, a mild Mediterranean bass, superb sautéed Red Mullet and Madagascar Tiger Shrimp that outclasses any shrimp or lobster you will ever eat, we enjoyed a melange of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, feta (never lettuce).
Meat lovers will enjoy such specialties as Kotopoulo, roasted herbed natural chicken and feta-infused; Steak "Brizola", 16 oz. New York strip served with hand-cut fries or Paidakia, rib cut, grilled lamb chops with olive oil & oregano potatoes. All lovely!
Desserts are not to be neglected. A far cry from the soggy, overly sweet renditions seen around town, I have never had better Baklava, the traditional phyllo and walnut pastry with honey and rose-water syrup; Galaktoboureko, vanilla bean semolina custard with a phyllo crust and apple syrup and a terrific Yiaourti me meli or sheep’s milk yogurt with wild thyme honey and toasted walnuts. Other options include Yiaourtopita,Yogurt cake drizzled with Vissino and Rizogalo, Arborio rice pudding with mastic & spiced poached quince. Don’t miss the fabulous Greek cookies and wonderful Greek coffee with an after dinner drink.
We drank a Gaia Estate Assyrtiko Thalassitis 2009 (from Santorini) throughout the meal. It was delicious and worth the $59 price tag. Made from the Varietal Assyrtiko, Thalassitis is a bone-dry wine with a delicate honeysuckle aroma and a crisp, mineral finish. A white wine of a strong personality. Works perfectly with seafood and also be served with lamb.
Dimitris Haronitis, general manager, supervises the service with warmth and style. Kellari Taverna, along with its sister restaurant Kellari Parea Bistro, bring some of the finest high-end Greek cuisine this side of the Atlantic to New York City. Truly one of Manhattan’s great dining experiences and a personal favorite.It doesn’t get any better than this.
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