Thick, Greek-style yogurt hit the supermarkets in flavors like fig and lemon a few years ago, spawning a renewed interest in Greek food. The latest Greek restaurant to open in Miami is Kouzina Greek Bistro in the Midtown neighborhood.
Named for the Greek word for “kitchen,” it has a patio full of foliage that screens it from busy Northeast Second Avenue, and a fresh, hip interior in bright whites and blues with rolling pins hanging from the ceiling.
The partners behind the venture are Yiannis Sotiropoulos and Makis Paliouras, who ran coffee shop-restaurants in Athens, and George Yiannikakis, who moved to Miami with his Greek-American wife.
They hired chef Alexa Apostolidis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and Florida International University, who went back to Athens to compete on Top Chef Greece but jumped at the chance to return to South Florida.
Graze on meze including soft manouri cheese wrapped in crisp phyllo sprinkled in sesame seeds and drizzled in herbaceous mountain honey, zucchini fries with yogurt-cucumber dip and Cretan barley toast topped with tomato sauce, crumbled feta and wild oregano, all good with a glass of Greek wine. So is the pickled octopus with capers and sun-dried tomatoes.
There’s also keftedes (meatballs) stuffed with feta and mint, ouzo shrimp with fennel and olives and sea bass ceviche in lemon juice with basil-chile oil. The beet salad brings mixed greens with thin-sliced beet “ravioli” folded into triangles with goat cheese in walnut oil and pomegranate vinaigrette, while spinach and chickpea salad is tossed with caramelized onions, dill, and phyllo crisps in white wine dressing.
Big appetites will enjoy paella-like seafood orzo made with the rice-shaped pasta topped with flamed feta or grilled beef souvlaki with red peppers, tzatziki sauce and pita. Grilled rack of lamb and whole fish of the day are also options.
Greek yogurt cheesecake, topped with rose petal jam, satisfies a sweet tooth.
Kali oreski! (Enjoy your meal!)
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.