Mon-Fri, 4:30pm-10:30pm; Sat-Sun, 12:30pm-11pm
4, 5, 6 at 86th St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
76th St. to 96th St., FDR Dr. to Fifth Ave.
Ithaka goes a long way toward undermining the stereotype of Greek restaurants as non-serious eateries good for shots of ouzo and plentiful but possibly undistinguished seafood. On a bustling stretch of 86th Street, Ithaka attracts the established and well-dressed用eople who appreciate the unpretentious, honest cooking and rustic-nautical embellishments: paintings of ships and docks, a stone floor held together with thick grout, and faux skylights covered with blue and white cloth. It's a Greek taverna, true, but a very elegant one. What sets it apart are the simple, fresh preparations: The spanakotiropita's layers of phyllo dough are exceptionally flaky and the spinach and feta in between are lively葉here's none of the ruinous mushiness that makes this spinach pie so awful when it's done badly. Dishes range from the simple耀moky, pleasantly chewy grilled octopus葉o the more elaborate, like arni youvetsi, morsels of baby lamb braised in a clay pot, with orzo, feta, and tomatoes, until meltingly tender. The thin slice of baklava served here is close to the Platonic ideal, with more of that rich, flaky phyllo, fresh-tasting walnuts, and extra-flavorful honey.
Spanakotiropita, $7.50; arni youvetsi, $26; baklava, $7.50