Last year, Rouge Tomate gave wine lovers a reason to head above 59th Street with Pascaline Lepeltier’s exceptional, biodynamically bent wine list. Now, a block away, Amáli offers another. A whitewashed table and chairs at the front of the room bathe in sunlight, a little piece of the Mediterranean transferred to the Upper East Side; the more formal dining room behind feels like an upscale bistro in Kolonaki, Athen’s most fashionable quarter. James Malios, formerly of Resto, joined forces with Steve Tzolis and Nicola Kotsoni, the pros behind legendary places like Il Cantinori and Periyali, New York’s first formal Greek restaurant, for this space. Here, they take a Mediterranean approach to American ingredients, creating something that’s at once more Greek than any Greek restaurant and less ethnic than any of them. Case in point: Every animal comes into the kitchen whole, as it would on a small Greek island, and Devon Gilroy and his staff break it down, roasting lamb legs for succulent sandwiches, braising the shoulder for a deep, gamey pasta ragù and using the necks for an insanely rich hash. Vegetables also take star billing, yellow chanterelles piled high on planks of toasted bread and a quarter head of roast cauliflower one of this winter’s delight’s. To drink, Malios and Paul Coles have culled Greece’s best (Gerovassiliou Malagousia, Skouras Nemea Grand Cuvée) rounded out with a savvy selection of sustainably produced wines from Austria (Lagler) to Sicily (Cos) to Paso Robles (Tablas Creek).
115 E. 60th St., New York, NY
This story appears in the print issue of April 2012.
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