Athena Express: New Greek in Bay Ridge
On a quiet corner in the mainly Middle Eastern part of Bay Ridge, Athena Express opened about a month ago, and is turning out solid, affordable Greek standards. Inside, there's a handful of tables and a small bar that overlooks the tiny kitchen, much of it taken up by a large grill. Perch on one of the stools and watch the cook char purple tendrils of octopus over the fire.
Octapodi scharas: grilled octopus with lima beans
That octopus appetizer ($8.95) is big enough for one person's lunch, or for two people to share as a starter. The cephalopod is meaty and tender, sitting on an olive-oil rich ragout of lima beans and bacon. Squeeze on the lemon to add brightness. The krya pikilia, an assortment of mezze including stuffed grape leaves, feta, and several spreads, is also worth snacking on with the restaurant's chewy pita bread. Hummus is rich with tahini and tzaziki is ultra-garlicky and shot through with dill.
Huge pans of freshly baked, crisp-edged moussaka, in both ground beef and vegetarian iterations, sat out on the stove, and one cook was trimming lamb leg for kabobs. If you're nearby and craving an affordable bite, Athena Express is worth a stop.
484 77th Street, Brooklyn