A blustery, cold winter would have anyone dreaming about a Mediterranean getaway right now. Luckily, you don't have to book a ticket halfway around the world to experience a Grecian getway.
Nerai, located in Manhattan's Midtown East, is ranked as one of Trip Advisor's top 75 restaurants in New York City and serves up delicious Greek cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Opened last year by lifelong friends Constantine Youssis and Spiro Menegatos and 47-year industry-veteran, Dinos Gourmos, Nerai boasts one of the freshest menus in the city, along with a chic setting and celebrity clientele (Kim Kardashian was recently spotted dining here).
From the decor to the dishes, check out five fabulous reason to try Nerai this season.
#1 Dine In Style
Walking into Nerai, a light and airy multi-level space, you are literally transported to the Mediterranean Upstairs. You'll find the two elegant dining rooms, both comfortable and inviting, one with 25′ vaulted ceilings, draped with a billowing white canopy, whitewashed walls, and accents of Mediterranean blue, in an interior that evokes the feeling of dining outdoors on Mykonos. The Midnight room is flanked by white-pillowed banquets, pressed sea grass lit from below, dark wood, all beneath a white washed bamboo ceiling, surrounding you with warmth and a peaceful tranquility. The main dining room has a nautical feel and a casual spirit that make it perfect for business lunches, informal meetings, or meeting for cocktails and interesting mezzes at the bar.
#2 The All-Star Chef
Chris Christou, Executive Chef at Nerai, was inspired to pursue a culinary career by a series of chance events, and some light guidance by his father, Costa. At 20-years-old, Chris opened Fisherman's Grill, a small fish and chips shop in his native South Africa that he ran with his father. Six months after opening, one of the Chefs from neighboring Prue Leith College of Culinary Arts walks into the shop and piques Chris' interest so much that he enrolls in the Culinary school a week later.
Having graduated culinary school and finding himself in London, Chris walks into Gordon Ramsey's Savoy Grill, and asks for a job. Chef Ramsey, with all his eccentricity, is so stunned at such a basic approach to asking for a job under him, that he takes Chris on as a cook. After spending three years working every inch of the line at the Savoy, Ramsey brought Chris to New York to be his Sous Chef at The London. Since then, Chris has worked as a cook under Thomas Keller at Per Se, at Corton with Paul Liebrandt, as Sous Chef with John Frasier at Dovetail, and with the opening team at Ai Fiori under Michael White. In 2010, asked by a friend to interview at Buddakan, Chris accepted the job as Chef de Cuisine, where for the first time in his career he is tested to temper the artistic techniques he learned with the scorching volume of one of the busiest kitchens in all of Manhattan. A master in his craft, in late 2013, he was approached by the owners of Nerai and has since elevated NYC's perception of Greek Cuisine.
#3 You Won't Eat Fresher Seafood In Greece
In the best Greek tradition, Nerai offers the freshest seafood flown in daily - Lavraki from Greece, Mediterranean Dorado, Black Tiger shrimp from the Pacific, Live Langoustine from Scotland, Fagri from Greece and Live Lobster from Maine. All of the seafood is prepared to the guest's specifications, any of which can be accompanied by a choice of interesting sides. The Norwegian Cod is a delicious and lighter spin on "Bakaliaros." It is pan-seared for a crisp skin, topped with orange-ouzo glaze, and served with delicate skordalia wrapped in beets, to resemble sushi rolls. The Lobster Orzotto is one pound of butter poached lobster, paired with slowly simmered orzo in a saffron lobster bisque, a sophisticated version of traditional "Lobster Kritharotto." And The Cretan Spiced Scallops? You'll never find better. Period.
#4 Not Into Fish? No Prob!
If seafood isn't exactly your thing, Nerai hardly leaves you out. If you are more into meat and veggies, start with the ultra decedent Foie Gras Torchon or crisp Roasted Rainbow Beet Salad, then move on to the mouthwatering Short Rib Youvetsi, masterfully long-braised beef, slow cooked orzo blended with a graceful tomato confit, offering a refined version of the traditional stew. The Duck Moussaka with roasted potato, eggplant layers and kefalograviera espuma is also a standout.
#5 Chic Sippings
Your taste buds will be equally as impressed with your drinks. In addition to a fantastic selection of wines, many from Greece, Nerai serves up some of the sleekest cocktails in the city. In the mood for something sweet? Try the Persephone, a light, bubbly drink that starts with prosecco blended effortlessly with Cointreau and St. Germain and finished with a splash of pomegranate. Or go for something with a little more body like the Thymari, a brisk whiskey-inspired drink featuring Bulleit rye and gently flavored with thyme, honey, nutmeg and mint.
55 East 54th Street
New York, NY 10022