It’s been a decade since Aquavit alums Dennis Chrysanthopoulos and Adam Greene first opened Snack Taverna down in the West Village, and the pair says they’ve really enjoyed becoming part of that neighborhood. But when they started toying with the idea of launching another venture, they began exploring to the north. “We looked around city, and we saw the changing atmosphere of Hell’s Kitchen,” Chrysanthopoulos explains. “It’s the last old neighborhood in Manhattan. We decided to head up there.”
And so they landed a lease for Snack EOS (522 Ninth Avenue), building out the space into a 40-seat restaurant with a designer who, according to Greene, aimed to “capture the feel of a boat on the Mediterranean.” Arched ceilings, wainscoting, brick walls, and cement floors frame the space, which is finished with light wooden booths and soft lighting.
Rather than install a carbon copy of their downtown menu — a list of more traditional Greek fare — here, the guys hope to break new ground in Mediterranean cuisine. “We’re trying to take a cuisine that has such a rich tradition and move forward a bit,” explains Greene. “Our menu is loaded with Greek ingredients and traditional techniques, but we’re following a contemporary approach with plating and how things come together on the plate. So there’s a nod to the traditions, but we’re trying to do something different that Greek people may not recognize immediately. The best way to describe it is Greek-inspired.”
The partners brought on another Aquavit alum, Kamran Naseem, to run the kitchen, and he’s put together a board categorized by dips, meze, appetizers, kalamaki (souvlaki), larger plates, and sides that highlights grilled sardines with dill and pine nuts, pork belly with braised leeks and licorice, lamb sliders with tzatziki slaw, and angel hair pasta with escargot. Channeling the tradition of rolling fish in grape leaves, Naseem is rolling a whole branzino in fig leaves. And you’ll spot classic dishes like saganaki, but Greene promises they’re being done in an unexpected way.
The menu pairs to local and international beers and wines, and the guys say they’ll open up their wine list to more Greek producers as the restaurant hits its stride.
“The name implies a dawn,” says Greene. “It feels like a new day for us, in both the neighborhood, and in that we’re trying to be a part of what we see as the next generation of Greek cooking. Many restaurants do presentations — excellent ones — based on what their grandmother did. We’re hoping to be part of something our grandchildren will look at and say, ‘What an interesting turning point.'”
Snack EOS opened last week and then took a short Thanksgiving holiday; it’s running dinner daily from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. until the end of the year, and then it will transition in breakfast and lunch.