On a rainy night in the throes of winter, it’s difficult to remember what warmth feels like let alone the sun. Summer memories of time spent island-hopping in the Mediterranean and wading into the Aegean are distant but there is a ray of hope—sexy, gorgeous, and Greek—in Midtown Manhattan.
With an enviable Rockefeller Plaza address, three-year old Limani is an unapologetically showy paean to fresh seafood—its offerings a nod to Hellenic cuisine but don’t expect old standards to overrun the elevated menu. Absent are rustic standbys like moussaka and pastitsio (though there are recognizable classics like spanakopita and saganaki); no one’s wizened yia-yia is tending stove. The focus here is on the sea and an impressive array of fish, bivalves, and shellfish lay on a bed of ice and looks like a carefully curated art installation until you witness a chef or one of the kitchen staff select a plateful of plump red shrimp known as carabineiros or a whole lavraki (branzino) and race off to the kitchen for à la minute preparation. Crimson lobsters are served whole or find themselves entangled in al dente strands of tomato-sauced linguine. Succulent Scottish langoustines, aesthetically akin to crawfish but a true cousin of the lobster, are lightly grill-kissed as are skewers of sweet, toothsome scallops; sashimi-grade octopus is a house specialty and arrives on the plate simply dressed. The first bite is what you imagine the lunch of a Greek day-boat fisherman tastes like—a netted catch prepared onboard over a makeshift grill with a generous squeeze of lemon—and it pretty deftly sums up Limani’s culinary philosophy of using fresh, lush ingredients while paying homage to a cuisine centered on bright, straightforward flavors.
Equally opulent is the 8,000 square-foot space itself that boasts a white onyx-backed infinity pool underneath a glinting fish mobile; this is the kind of space that inspires three-martini lunches and languid dinner dates and, while some of the best things in life don’t come with a price tag, a Limani dining experience comes with a hefty one and it’s no surprise. In recent years, Greek cuisine in the city has enjoyed soaring popularity and continues to command prices that rival those of renowned New York institutions and dinner at this flashy jewel will induce the kind of sticker shock that is not for the faint of wallet. Contemporary design that includes hints of azure, white linen-draped tables, and a sleek, well-stocked bar hint at the Mediterranean vibe but would be just as home on Collins Avenue in Miami.
Beautifully prepared fare, both of the land and sea variety, served with a side of swank defines this Mediterranean canteen and warrants a visit to the heart of Manhattan for a meal that offers an elegant primer to Greek cookery.
Limani (located in Rockefeller Center) | 45 Rockefeller Plaza | New York, NY 10111 | 212-858-9200 | www.limani.com | $$$$ (Very expensive)