Periyali: A Taste of Greece in The Heart of NYC

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Finding really great Greek food can be a challenge if you are in Manhattan. Venture into Astoria, Queens and you will have your pick, but Manhattan tends to be trickier…especially if authenticity is on the top of your list.

I recently discovered Periyali, on 20th and Broadway. That I discovered it, however, is a little late considering that Periyali has been a staple in the New York Greek dining scene since 1987 – a pretty big deal for NYC restaurants. It’s intimate, yet festive with pockets for more private dining to open spaces for celebrations, of which there were plenty on the night my husband and I dined there.

We had a lovely table for two reserved and decided to start our dining experience with a bit of ouzo. This intense drink is a traditional Greek favorite, and though my husband found the black licorice flavor a bit too overwhelming, I thought it was divine.

My husband spotted an actress immediately. “She’s the aunt from My Big Fat Greek Wedding!” he exclaimed. I didn’t dare turn around to look (New Yorker code) and never actually saw her face as she exited. I have to say, sitting close to celebrity was pretty exciting, but not more so than tasting the amazing grilled octopus they serve here. It was the perfect texture and the perfect blend of flavors. I could have easily made this my entire meal.Periyali_girlgonetravel

This is one of Executive Chef Charles Bowman’s specialties. Chef Bowman arrived to Periyali by way of La Cote Basque and River Cafe. It was an honor to be treated to an impromptu chef’s menu style meal because we got to taste a few of his favorite dishes. Everything from the red snapper to the charcoal grilled lamb chops had us saying Mmmm.

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I have to also insist that you try the Greek salad. It’s not the massive serving one might expect elsewhere and Chef adds his own special touch, which can change depending on what is seasonally available at the farmers market where he tends to shop for his produce. On the night of my visit, the special flavor was in the capers that he included which really gave the salad a unique, delicious flavor.

We asked Chef Bowman about the menu, how often he changes things around to appeal to his tendency to want to stick to seasonal items and he talked about how selective he was in doing so because their loyal guests have very specific dishes they’ve grown to love in very specific ways and well, as he says, “It’s important for me to give them what they want.” (For the record, that would be the grilled octopus for me!)

If you have room, and really, it’s a sin not to save some, order a plate of their Greek desserts with Greek coffee, of course!


By the end of our meal and after all the ouzo and Greek wine, I was starting to feel like I had truly gotten a flavor of Greece.Periyali_girlgonetravelOur wonderful server made sure we didn’t go thirsty during our meal by serving us some of Greece’s finest wines.

At this point, what was a quiet eatery when we first arrived was bustling with laughter and lively conversations, as well as songs of birthday wishes and cheers.

I love Queens, and have fun every time I go there. But I’m really glad to not have to travel further than Manhattan if I don’t want to for an authentic, delicious, and friendly dining experience that won’t break the back (did I mention their Prix Fix menu was only $38?!).

If you are in the area or want to plan a party, I think you would enjoy it here. And who knows, you might be better than me at spotting the celebrities, who I here are also fans of the ambiance and food.

You can find Periyeli at 35 West 20th St., between Avenue of the Americas and 5th Avenue. For reservations call: 212-463-7890. Happy Eating!


Disclosure: I was a diner guest of Periyali. I received no compensation for this review and no directive to express any particular point of view. All opinions are my own.


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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