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Zagat: Chef Spreads Modern Spin On Greek Food To Queens

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Kelly Dobkin of Zagat checks out the new Astoria location for MP Taverna, a restaurant that's putting a modern spin on the idea of a traditional Greek tavern.

Chef Michael Psilakis is taking his MP Taverna concept, already popular in Westchester and Long Island, to Astoria, Queens with a brand new location.

"MP Taverna really sort of embodies the final step of the evolution that I've been trying to put together for Greek food for the last, I would say, probably about 15 years now," Psilakis says. "What we've done is, we've tried to take even the format of a typical brasserie and use things that you would normally find on those menu and sort of fuse Greek flavors to them."

The menu concept emphasizes sharing, and while the food is not traditional Greek, Psilakis was heavily inspired by the food of his childhood when creating the menu.

"It's amazing how many people have never had octopus, and they go to a Greek restaurant, and they eat the octopus, and they're like, 'Wow,'" Psilakis said. "I'm looking at this as more of a platform to say, 'Hey, you know what, if we can expose people to the simplicity and beauty of Greek food,' then I think, slowly, they're going to start to understand that it's no longer the ethnic, heavy, rich food that they may have thought it was."

The two-floor space is situated on the corner of Ditmars and 33rd Street and will soon feature a large outdoor cafe. On the ground floor, there's a daily happy hour featuring $1 oysters, small bites and an extensive selection of whiskeys.

"There's a lot of different ways you can experience the restaurant," Psilakis said. "If you want to just come and have a drink,if you want to have a drink and a meze, if you want to have a full-blown meal, it's all here for you. Today, food to me is used as a vehicle to really create the memories of the relationships that you share when you're eating a meal, and MP Taverna is really prefaced on that."

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