Artisanal is usually code for expensive — or hipster. Pi Bakerie (512 Broome Street; 212-226-2701), however, is neither of the two. With head chef Giannis Tompas (formerly of Loi on the Upper West Side) at the reins, the Soho shop offers traditional Greek pastries and baked goods at Astoria price-points. It’s not all sweets, though, the spot serves an excellent budget-friendly meal-deal.
From 10:30 a.m. through closing, the bakery features a slice of savory pie with dolma (stuffed grape leaf) and salad or soup for $12.50. Pick from Greek salad with chunks of crisp cucumbers and tomatoes, beet salad, chicken soup, or green velvet, a puree of peas, scallions, dill, and a touch of cream. Add a coffee (from Brooklyn Roasting Company) or beverage for an additional $2.
Without the combo, even, the pies merit a visit on their own. They’re made from scratch, on the premises. Pastry specialist and Athens native Aleksandros Shytani is a master of phyllo, so the layers are lighter and flakier than you’ll find in most places. Here, it’s not just spanakopita on the menu: hortopita (green harvest pie) takes the place of the ubiquitous pastry. In addition to spinach, kale, leeks, and feta are seasoned with a blend of herbs. The chicken and vegetables pie is like the Greek version of a pot pie, tender chicken layered with slices of carrots, onions, and celery. For a meatier option, there’s mousaka pie with baked eggplant, slow-cooked ground beef, and caramelized tomato sauce, topped with béchamel.
If phyllo isn’t your thing, pastitsio is another solid choice; it’s a Greek-style lasagna with aromatic ground beef and penne pasta with the same rich tomato sauce and cream sauce. And for those with gluten issues, there’s a Greek omelet with zucchini, beefsteak tomatoes, green tomatoes, feta, and herbs.
While Tompas and Shytani have enough industry cred on their own, it was partner Regina Katopodis that brought the team together. As co-owner of Astoria’s Artopolis Bakery for eleven years, she knows a thing or two about running a Greek pastry shop. And at Pi, she’s done one hell of a job.
For great Greek on a budget — without the trek up the NQ — this is where you need to go.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 23, 2015