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Big fat Greek feast

The Brooklyn Paper

Park Slope restaurateur Spiro Hiotis named Athena Mediterranean Cuisine after the Greek goddess of wisdom (and, perhaps more important, his daughter) — and it seems that his newly opened eatery has been blessed with some divine intelligence.

The restaurant, on a quiet stretch of Sixth Avenue, boasts a full menu of mouth-watering Greek staples including moussaka, pastichio and spanakopita, which diners can enjoy on one plate for $14.95.

But Hiotis says the standout at his Mediterranean eatery is the lamb shank, served with orzo, tomato sauce and string beans ($16.95).

“It’s one of the best lamb shanks you’ll ever have — it just melts off the bone,” he said.

Sounds good, but we’ve got our eyes on Hiotis’s crispy salmon filet served atop braised lentils, butter sauce, and sauteed spinach ($18.95).

The restaurant replaces El Encuentro, an unpopular Latin American lunch counter.

Athena Mediterranean Cuisine [535 Sixth Ave., at 14th Street in Park Slope, (718) 965-4578]. Credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

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Reader Feedback

TO SPIRO from Bay Ridge says:
CONGRATS!!!!
Spiro, you look very cute, good luck with the place.
we wish you the best.
Nancy & Family
June 2, 2009, 7:16 pm
Tom from Park Slope says:
They have the best spanakopita, and I love their gyros as well.
June 28, 2009, 6:23 pm
Jeff from Park Slope says:
I love this Greek restaurant, they have awesome food, the fish is very fresh and their specials are so unique and delicious. My wife and I love going there, because we always bring a nice bottle of wine since they are BYOB and working on the liquor license.
The waiter is a nice guy and the service is great, even when the place is packed.
Oct. 4, 2009, 9:42 pm
Elenie & Ralph from Staten Island says:
Athena's came highly recommended from our friend's.My wife said,let's try it.We were there this past saturday,best thing we every did.Now we don't have to go to Astoria any more to eat.The restaurant is very clean,the waiter was excellent,the owner was like a friend I have known for years,and I just met him.Let's get to the good stuff,FOOD.My wife had the Mediterranean striped seabass(BRANZINI),I had the Mediterranern sea food plater.The food is off the charts.Desserts are all home made. (excellent)Can't wait to see you again.
Oct. 5, 2009, 11:36 am
Nastasya F. from From around the corner says:
Fantastic Greek food has arrived to the Slope! This place has quality, fresh, delicious food made with care and attention to detail. Everything on the menu is delicious and the nightly specials never disappoint. Delivery is fast and excellent. Spiro may just be the nicest, most attentive owner/manager you will ever meet.

Go here. Often. So that I will have the pleasure of having this lovely restaurant around the corner from my house for many years to come!
Oct. 6, 2009, 1:18 pm
David from Park Slope says:
EXCEPTIONAL!!!

An avid fan of Greek food, I must say that this hidden treasure of great Greek food in South Slope is simple, classy and exquisite.

We were at Athena’s for dinner a few days ago and had the most wonderful experience, the food was so fresh, I had the oreta with string beans and a delicious Greek salad and my wife had lamb strudel with a mint yogurt sauce to die for.

The restaurant owner/chef approached our table and was the most attentive character, asking us about our meal and also telling us about his new internet show on www.winechilled.com "get your Greek on with Spiro", he was very friendly and told us we can learn his recipes on line, he also told us about the opening of his second location in Bay Ridge. Congrats to him and his family!!!
We will definitely be back to try new dishes.
Nov. 16, 2009, 10:47 pm
Athan from Park Slope says:
Great food, great people, great service and soon opening a 3rd location downtown. Athena Mediterranean Cuisine is BYOB and my family and I just love going there. The shimp Saganaki is so fresh and unique, the salads are large and lets don't forget their vegetarian menu.
Jan. 3, 2010, 2:42 pm
Anna & Bill from Staten Island says:
I love going to Park Slope, and specially the food from Athena's. We were there Sunday night and had a wonderful time, the service is great and our Oreta was fresh and cooked to perfection, the Greek salad was perfect and the octopus was so delicious, the best part we had our own bottle of red wine. Can't wait to go to Athena's again!!!
Jan. 20, 2010, 2:25 pm
Phoebe O. from Park Slope says:
Very quiet, friendly, restaurant. We sampled almost a third of the menu and it ranged from good to excellent. The service was excellent and the chef even came to our table twice to ask how we liked our food. Our favorites were the hummus, spinach pie, and the Greek grilled squid. The meat dishes were a bit too rich for us, but are sure to be popular with people who prefer heavy meat and cream. We asked for the food to be served family style, and they were happy to accommodate. Everything tasted wonderful. We were sad to be too full to order desert. They do not yet have a liquor license. They offered us a free glass of wine and invited us to bring our own bottles in the future.

Unfortunately only five of the tables were taken at 7:30 on a Friday night. Two of the tables had very polite, happy, families with babies. The babies were very well behaved... I think they actually added to the friendly atmosphere.

I will definitely return to this restaurant... if they can stay in business. Fingers crossed for them. They have put a lot of thought into their service and menu.
Feb. 11, 2010, 9:02 pm
George from Bay Ridge says:
Congrats!! on your second location here in Bay Ridge, I love the food, Greek beer and the service is great.
My favorite dish is the Athenian meat platter, the meats are so tender and the flavor is just right.
I'll be back very soon to try some new dishes.
March 1, 2010, 8:46 pm
Becca says:
I came to dinner here with my mom and sister last night, and we loved the food and the experience!
We felt right at home as soon as we entered this hidden gem of a restaurant. The server was charming and welcoming!
We ordered a number of different dishes and each time we tasted a new dish, we raved about the taste of the food! (My personal favorite was the spanakopita)
They offer many traditional meals in vegetarian form, and had a long list of specials.
There is a real commitment to traditional whole food here and that is clear in the flavor and presentation of the food!
Bring your own bottle of wine, because they don't sell wine!
I also thought the meal was very reasonably priced for the quality and amount of food we ordered! (We took home a lot of the food, the portions were just too huge to finish!)
March 13, 2010, 1:56 pm
Joe M. says:
Among the best Greek experiences I've ever had!

At least, we have an authentic Greek restaurant that is not a diner! I first stumbled upon this neighborhood establishment by accident. It's decidedly off the beaten path, being tucked away in an otherwise purely residential corner of the South Slope, but it is certainly worthy of remembering for the quality of both the food and the service.

I've now visited this restaurant several times, and am happy to say that each time, I came away impressed.

Twice, I have had one of the house specials -- an orata fish, which the owners apparently fly in from Greek waters. Coated with oregano, lemon, and olive oil and grilled, this is a breathtakingly mild, buttery example of why Mediterranean food is both delicious and healthy.

Plenty of other choices are equally worthy of praise. The standard Greek choices are all done very well -- my notoriously finicky sister declared their spanakopita (spinach pie) the best she'd ever had. But this is also a great location to sample harder to find Greek cuisine - even the sauteed horta (dandelion greens).

Service has been friendly, prompt, and sincerely gracious on every occasion I've visited. My only hesitation in giving Athena five full stars (a rating I typically reserve only for dining experiences that practically move me to tears) is the decor, which, from certain angles, gives one the feel of dining in Aunt Thea and Uncle Nick's furnished basement. Then again, maybe that just reinforces the down-home style of the food.

May I have some more baklava, please?
April 10, 2010, 5:19 pm
Gerry P. from From yelp.com says:
Hallelujah! My faith in Greek food has been restored. If you've been missing authentic, homemade Greek food, get over here fast.

Just had a great dinner at this unassuming but attractive little spot, where fresh, high quality food is lovingly prepared by a kitchen that clearly cares about AND knows what it's doing.

My friend and I started off by sharing two appetizers: a delicious grilled octopus (accompanied by a savory lima bean salad with fresh baby greens) and grilled sardines. Both dishes were as fresh and tasty as can be.

I then had a very respectable moussaka, for which the only competition I am aware of in this neck of the woods is Miriam's. My friend seemed more than pleased with the special lamb dish she ordered, which was beautiful presented on the plate. After dinner, I enjoyed one of the tastiest (decaf) cappuccinos I've had--ever.

What makes all of this even nicer was the warm reception we received upon entering and consistently friendly and professional service throughout the entire evening. When the owner-chef came out (twice!) to ask how if we were enjoying the food, I almost died and went to heaven. This kind of attentive, customer-oriented care seems to be all but extinct these days, so it makes me swoon when I encounter it. And I don't swoon easy.

The only thing to be aware of is that this is a BYOB establishment. There's a nice wine store right around the block on 7th Ave and plenty of bodegas on 7th as well, so that shouldn't be a problem.
April 26, 2010, 1:23 pm
Susan L from www.yelp.com says:
After spending a few hours wandering around Green-Wood Cemetery on a hot day, we checked Yelp for any good restaurants in that vicinity (thank goodness for my husband's iPhone - and to think I'd initially told him it was a waste of money....). Athena was a *great* choice! We shared the saganaki appetizer, which consisted of mushrooms stuffed with spinach & feta cheese and a tomato sauce. We were given an order of the most delicious pita bread I've probably ever tasted (I loved the fact that it was warmed up, but be forewarned that it was almost too hot to touch) and good hummus. My husband ordered the spartan entrée (chicken with spinach & feta cheese over rice pilaf, with a tomato-based sauce) and I ordered the vegetarian combo (pastichio, moussaka & spinach pie). Everything was incredibly delicious and the portions were generous (we practically staggered out of there - and since I'm a bread pudding fanatic ["obsessive" might be a more accurate term], I was disappointed that I didn't have room for dessert). In contrast to someone else's comment, I think the prices were very fair for the generous amount of delicious food.

The owner wasn't there (it was late afternoon on a weekday), but his sister was there and she was very pleasant. We were the only customers at that time and she told us the recipes are all her mother's. Whoever was cooking when we were there did a great job! Our waiter was a really sweet guy (I'm not sure if he's the "José" someone else mentioned, but we had a nice conversation in Spanish and he's from Mexico City), plus he was very enthusiastic in his descriptions.

They have outdoor seating and a pretty wall mural, which would have provided for a pleasant experience - but it was simply too hot outdoors.
May 22, 2010, 12:34 pm
Blair G from www.yelp.com Brooklyn says:
The food was good, but the service was GREAT. They were attentive and always there. The waitress memorized all of the specials (they were numerous) and didn't deliver them in a script with BS words like "savory" and the like.

When we commended her memory I asked if she liked working there and she said she loved and they were good to her - which made me like the place a ton more.

It was BYOB (since they don't have a liquor license yet) and they put half of our beer in the fridge and upon our request brough more out - they even took it out and presented it to us - and OPENED IT. What service, especially when considering that it didn't increase the bill...

The portions were nicely sized and we were stuffed.

There was even pita and the creamiest hummus I have ever had.

Near the end of our experience the owner/chef came out (not sure, maybe both?) asked how everything was.

The bill was $66 for three people for three entrees and a $13 mussel appetizer (other appetizers were cheaper). Everything was fresh and I would definitely go back again (and again!).

The only thing that detracted from the experience is that the LIVE MUSIC(!!) was a bit loud, but when asked to turn it down, they did. Oh! and there was a belly dancer with cymbals and a ring of candles balanced on her head and everything!
July 12, 2010, 2:14 pm
John from Staten Island says:
I love going to Athena in Park Slope the food is awesome and the service is great, but now with Athena express in Bay Ridge is even better for us, because we get off the bridge and we are right there, the food is also great and the workers make us feel very special and now can't wait to try the food at their 3rd location downtown.
Our favorite dishes are the steak, so juicy and cooked to perfection with very unique Greek mash potatoes. My wife loves the lamb specials, they are always great.
The place is so cozy and the owner/chef is very friendly and nice.
And lets don't forget the always very friendly and sweet Jessica, the best waitress we ever had.

Aug. 23, 2010, 12:21 pm
Angelina from Park Slope says:
I have to say, the best Greek food I had in years!!
We don't have to go to astoria anymore, because Athena Mediterranean Cuisine has great Greek Salad, with fresh ingredients and the Steak was so juicy and cooked to perfection, I love the fact that they are BYOB! and also their lovely waitress Jessica, she is so sweet also the very helpful manager Helen, she will make feel at home.
My husband and I love going to Athena, and can't wait to visit their new location, downtown.
Oct. 4, 2010, 12:21 am
Allan from Brooklyn says:
Great food!
Great place!
love the spanakopita and the hummus with toasted pita bread.
Oct. 28, 2010, 7:23 pm
Angelina from Staten Island says:
My mom and I favorite place to go in Brooklyn, we try almost every dish. My favorite the Oreta with Greek potatoes and my mom loves their Moussaka and Greek fries, we come to Athena almost once a month and I have to say its always something new and delicious to try.
Spiro keep up the good work!
OPA!!!!
Nov. 11, 2010, 12:57 am
Rita from Elmhurst Queens says:
Great food, great service, great people!
Jan. 6, 2011, 12:45 am
Nataly from S.I. says:
I love Greek food and Athena has the best Moussaka and Pastichio in Brooklyn.
Would love to live in Park Slope to I can get a delivery from them in a rainy day like today.
Athena Cuisine, please keep up the good work.
Feb. 28, 2011, 5:03 pm
Angela from Bay Ridge says:
I just love the food and the service. The Steak was so tender and cooked to perfection and Spiro the owner/Chef gave us a free glass of wine, how nice is that?
I'll deff come back very soon!
June 3, 2011, 11:10 pm

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