Ochtapodi, or grilled octopus, dressed in a lemon and olive oil sauce with roasted red peppers, onions, and Santorini fava, is a beautiful and delicious starter at the tri-level Greca in Downtown White Plains. The restaurant is devoted to elevating Greek/Mediterranean fare beyond what is typical at your neighborhood taverna. Photos by John Bruno Turiano
Head to Greca for everything from perfectly cooked octopus to hand-rolled grape leaves in a convivial atmosphere in Westchester.
Small, casual tavernas offering bountiful portions and modest plating are the typical Greek dining experience in the county. Restaurateur Constantine “Dino” Kolitsas is introducing an alternative: the fine-dining Greca, a 150-seat, tri-level restaurant set in a 6,000-square-foot space boasting lots of glass and crisscrossed metal beams that previously housed Mediterraneo.
“Greek cuisine now is where Italian was in early ’80s — just coming out of the cosmopolitan centers, where it was being presented in an elevated way,” says Kolitsas. “As a result, most every major metro-area suburb has sophisticated Italian dining. There is elevated Greek in cities like Manhattan, and Greca is my version of it for Westchester.”
The menu is rustic yet reimagined cuisine by Chef Kosta Ndreu, who has a healthy CV that includes upscale Mediterranean/Greek restaurants such as Ethos, Kyma, and Trata.
Special attention is given to certain core ingredients: no-thickeners-added yogurt comes from a third-generation Greek dairy farmer out of Ansonia, CT; all fish, like Faroe Island salmon and branzino, are wild-caught or organically/ sustainably raised; pearl-white feta is imported from Epirus, a rugged region of northwest Greece where sheep and cows graze on nutrient-rich mountain grasses.
Hand-rolled grape leaves, tempura-fried kefalograviera cheese set aflame tableside, and loukaniko (grilled pork sausage) are starters to try. Mains include slow-roasted eggplant stuffed with onions, garlic, and herbs in tomato sauce; risotta Avlona (abundant with shrimp, mussels, clams, steak, and loukaniko); hilopites, or Greek egg pasta with whipped cauliflower and roasted mushrooms; and a Mediterranean grill for two: pork skewers, lamb chops, gyro carvings, sausage, and lots of accompanying tzatziki and pita.
The wine list is international, but Kolitsas is growing the percentage of Greek selections from 20% to 75–80% as people acclimate to Greek wines. “There are many fine Greek wines,” says Kolitsas, using the Assyrtiko varietal as an example. “It’s indigenous to Santorini Island, which is quite dry, so the grapes draw from volcanic-ash-rich soil and get great minerality.”
Kolitsas has partners at this second location of Greca (the first was opened in New Milford in Nov 2019): developer Louis Cappelli and wife Kylie, who live across street, at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. “They love the cuisine and wanted to have quality Greek close by,” he says.
Greca’s website touts that philoxenia is the Greek word for “hospitality” (it literally translates as “love of strangers”). “Hospitality is in my blood,” Kolitsas says, who grew up in Danbury and whose first industry job was at age 11, at his father’s pizza place, in Bethel. “It is gratifying to feed people. I work seven days a week not because I have to but because I want to.”