On what would have been just your typical Wednesday night in Southampton Village, my cousin Nicholas and I were transported to another place and time. A lover of Greek food, and very much missing my old NYC staples, Kefi and Molyvos, I was already excited for dinner at Nammos but could not have predicted such an extraordinary culinary experience. My sister and I had danced many a night away at the former Nello location, just a step away from Main Street, reliving summers abroad in Italy, but I never had the opportunity to sit down for dinner on the outdoor patio. It was slightly chilly, but it being June, Nick and I opted to dine al fresco and were perfectly comfortable under the heat lamps.
Our virtual trip to the island of Mykonos began with the most delicious and soft olive bread, served with a flavorful olive oil and a tomato paste spread. We were cautioned not to fill up on the bread and, if not for this warning, it would have been devoured. Next came two glasses of Malagouzia, a slightly citrusy dry white wine, which is more full-bodied and complex than a Pinot Grigio and Lavraki Tartare. The Lavraki, a Mediterranean Sea Bass flown in that day from Hellas, was bathed in X.O. olive oil, lime and saffron and served with honey mustard sauce and homemade potato chips, which were used to scoop up the melt-in-your-mouth tartare. At this point, we were ecstatic, but tried to contain ourselves, as the meal had only just begun. Proceeding to our Horiatiki, a Greek peasant salad of organic tomatoes, juicy and ripe, cucumbers, onions, peppers and barrel-aged Dodonis feta—the very best feta you can get your hands on. Again, we were awestruck by the freshness of each ingredient and the artistic presentation. We then took to The Nammos Special, dipping crisp, paper-thin zucchini and eggplant chips into a little dish of the best Tzatziki sauce I’ve ever tasted. I took further delight in the Saganaki, perhaps my personal favorite, combining pan-fried Kefalograviera Cheese and watermelon into fork-size bites and swirling them around in the smoked honey sauce and Kalamata black olive marmalade. We tasted the Octapodi in the same manner, making sure to get a little of the black squid ink miso sauce with each bite. With these appetizers, we enjoyed sipping on the oaky, soft Domaine Hatzimichalis chardonnay, which is now quite possibly my new favorite chardonnay. Shrimp Saganaki was perhaps the piece-de-resistance of the hot appetizers—shrimp “wontons” stuffed with feta, tomatoes and peppers over a red pepper coulis and feta sauce were crispy and unexpectedly light. All of this may sound like a lot, but the strategy is to take your time and just have a little of everything. Sit back, relax, take your time and savor each course with the appropriate Greek wine.
With a taste of Ktima Papaionnou Pinot Noir, which comes from Nemea, the place where Heracles killed the Nemean Lion and home to the Temple of Zeus, we then enjoyed sharing a few of the entrees—Chilean Sea Bass, Kotopoulo (roast chicken) and Paidakia (lamb chops). The sea bass, caramelized in a citrus marinade and served with roasted baby eggplant and green apple coriander salad, was buttery yet airy and most certainly aromatic. I thought it was the perfect note to end on, but with Nick’s insistence I tried the roast chicken and the lamb. Both exceeded all expectations. The chicken was moist and with a zest of lemon and thyme and the lamb chop, dipped in a whipped Bearnaise, slid off the bone.
By the very end of the meal, we were sipping a Greek dessert wine, discussing Greek mythology, sculpture and architecture, and had the exciting opportunity to thank award-winning chef Emmanouil Aslanoglou for this exceptional evening. I would without doubt put Nammos Estiatorio on a short list of the list of the world’s best restaurants.
Nammos Estiatorio, 136 Main St., Southampton. Reservations, 631-287-5500.