In a different Brooklyn neighborhood in an era past, a Mr. Souvlaki restaurant built a loyal following providing Greek staples — the namesake souvlaki along with gyros, falafel and their famous salad dressing. Now, nearly ten years since the original Brooklyn Heights restaurant shut its doors, Mr. Souvlaki returns to Brooklyn (208 Franklin Street) with a new generation working the front of house and providing inspiration behind the grill.
Led by brothers, Stavros and Peter Skenderis, along with chef Michael Lettas, a Riverpark alum, the food at Mr. Souvlaki “2.0” honors the family’s enduring Greek style—respect for the ingredients, demand for freshness and a focus on spreads, sauces and seasonings. The brothers have tapped the family recipe book to include a number of classics, such as the original hummus, babagounoush and dressing recipes, but most of the plates are new concepts and preparations showcasing seasonal ingredients with several products coming directly from Greece.
Feta is a key ingredient that can be found throughout the starter section of the menu and there is nothing sheepish about it. The feta saganaki, a generous piece of sesame seed encrusted feta, crisped in a pan and dressed with honey and balsamic glaze, is a nice blend of salty and sweet to start the meal. The honey adds a touch that delightfully balances the molten cheese. Tirokafteri is another scrumptious feta dish, a spread mixed with roasted red pepper, providing a spicy and smooth sensation to accompany warm pita. The feta can also be found in the Greek salad, called “Mr S” or the shrimp saganaski, gulf shrimp, tomato, green pepper, feta served with warm pita.
The entrees also feature Greek staples, mousaka and spanakopita (spinach pie), fresh fish to name a few. The pork and chicken souvlaki, available as sandwiches or platters, are grilled on skewers. The tastiest item in my opinion was the gyro hirino, crispy pork, sliced thinly directly from the spit, which is prepared to roast in house each day. Sides of blistered peppers and lemon potato wedges nicely complement the meat with their salty flavor and soft texture.
Mr. Souvlaki doesn’t yet have a liquor license, but we’re told it’s on its way. The vision is to have a house red and white wine on tap (Greek of course) and they are even working on importing FIX, a brand of Greek lager beer from the legendary brewery founded in Athens in 1864.
Armed with learnings and recipes from their elders, Mr. Souvlaki’s odyssey through time and space has brought to Greenpoint a good, casual place to grab authentic Greek cuisine.