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Best Amuse

  • Loi

    208 W. 70th St., nr. Amsterdam Ave.; 212-875-8600

    “I don’t keep secrets,” says Maria Loi, the indefatigable ambassador of Greek food who established an epony­mous Upper West Side flagship last fall. That’s why she’s perfectly happy to reel off the reasons why her dolmadakia, or stuffed grape leaves, surpass all others. She uses only the finest Cretan grape leaves, and is partial to risotto rice, which sticks together tidily without clumping into a mushy mess. Her herb mixture is heavy on the dill, and the crucial dried oregano must be sourced from the lofty peaks of Mount Taygetus in the Peloponnese. If the chef were wilier, she’d withhold her trick of flavoring the rice with not only lemon juice but its zest, and oven-steaming the stuffed leaves on a bed of lemon slices, insulated between layers of even more grape leaves. Surprisingly, these modestly sized, loosely stuffed morsels aren’t on the menu, but offered as an appetite-whetting amuse-bouche. And if the allotted two-per-person serving isn’t enough? “Just say, ‘I want more,’ ” Loi counsels. “Usually people say this.”

    See Also
    Adam Platt on Loi

From the 2012 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine