NJ Dining: Nisi Estiatorio


Nisi Estiatorio Restaurant
90 Grand Avenue, Englewood NJ

Web Site: http://www.nisirestaurant.com

Englewood has traditionally been a restaurant town, but like any town in Northern New Jersey that is dependent on shopping and dining, it has suffered greatly with the economic downturn. People are dining out less and less — myself included — and when we do dine out, it’s usually at lower-end more casual dining choices. The high end restaurants in Bergen County are now few and far between.

So I was bewildered when I heard that the former space of 90 Grand Grille was to be occupied by a new high-end restaurant, a Greek Fish House. Wait, an expensive Greek restaurant, just a town over from Axia Taverna in Tenafly? Did we really need two of these, and so close to each other? I admit, I was skeptical, but Rachel and I were invited to dine there, and to sample the cuisine.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi’s storefront on 90 Grand Avenue in Englewood.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

The bar dining area has a warm Mediterranean atmosphere, which I found particularly inviting with the sub-freezing weather.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

A selection of olives in the bar area.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Happy patrons in the bar area.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi’s bar.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

General Manager/Partner Mike Liristis oversees his guests.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi’s Chef de Cuisine/Executive Chef, John Piliouras. Chef John hails originally from the critically-acclaimed MOLYVOS in New York City.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi’s main dining room is spacious and yet still manages to convey the warmth of a Mediterranean fish house.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi is aspiring  to become Englewood’s and one of Bergen County’s top destination restaurants. It has the wine cellar (left) that it needs to attain that status.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Wines by the glass list. This is only the first page of a very comprehensive wine list. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Grilled Octopodi amuse — Rachel and I both really liked this, as it was tender and didn’t taste at all fishy. Being that neither of us are Octopus people, that’s saying an awful lot.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

The main star of the show, Nisi’s fresh fish display. Every one of these guys is going to find its way onto someone’s plate.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Fish Display closeup.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Hey, Snapperhead!

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

The wild and firm-textured shrimps (bottom) are used in Nisi’s Saganaki dish.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Sardines

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

I’m not sure who these guys are but they look pretty depressed.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

First Plates (Mezedes) menu. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

A trio of Mezze — Eggplant, Cucumber/Yogurt and Caviar/Yogurt. Nisi uses thick FAGE Greek yogurt for all the yogurt-based appetizers. All of these were excellent versions, particularly the caviar spread (Taramasalata).

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

“Gravlax” cured in Greek Ouzo liquor, which has an anise/botanical flavor to it. I really liked this one and nearly finished the whole plate, probably because I’m an Ouzo fiend.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

My favorite, however, is the Feta Cheese Skordalia (potato/garlic spread) served with beets. I had this paired with a light Greek red, which was very nice.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Skordalia closeup, on whole grain pita bread toastpoint.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Main dishes. Click the photo to enlarge.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Wild Shrimp Saganaki.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Sesame Crusted Pan-Fried Manouri Cheese, with Yellow Raisins. This was paired with a very nice crisp Greek white. Rachel and I really loved this one. Manouri has a texture and flavor similar to a Chevre or other similar goat’s cheese.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Here’s our friend Mr. Grilled Octopus again, this time paired with grilled fennel seasoned with Sumac.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

I love the presentation on this Manouri salad.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Chicken Avgolemono (Egg/Lemon) soup, made to order. Very strong and concentrated stock flavor, with lots of pulled chicken pieces. A really excellent restaurant rendition of a Grecian “Grandma” staple.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Whole loup de mer/Branzino fish, grilled.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Same fish after professional fillet job, done in the kitchen.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Grilled Vegetables, the side for the fish.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Absolutely perfectly grilled Lamb Chops. Even though Nisi is primarily a fish restaurant, a meat eater could have an equally wonderful time here.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Greek Gigante beans. They’re called Gigantes because they really are huge beans, as big as really large lima beans.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Gigantes plated, with Horta Greens, foreground. Horta is a bitter sauteed mixed green vegetable dish that is popular in Greece. I’m not sure what mix of greens is used in Nisi’s horta but I think mustard and kale might be in it.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Dessert Menu. Click photo to enlarge.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

The first of four desserts that was sent to us was a Krema Kataifi “Napoleon”, with shredded honeyed phyllo at the bottom layered with Valhrona chocolate, orange pastry cream and raspberries. Wow.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

Nisi’s take on a traditional Baklava, which was amazing.

Nisi Restaurant, Englewood NJ by you.

This is Milopita, a stuffed phyllo pastry with apples, walnuts and raisins inside. By now I was dying for a strong Greek Coffee to go with these sweet desserts, which Nisi has on its menu, but if I had any I’d be up all night. We were also sent a fourth dessert, a classic and perfectly executed Creme Brulee, with a nice burned sugar crust, flavored with Mastic Resin (Mastika) — which had a menthol-like flavor to it. I was so stuffed by this point my photography skills were suffering, so you’ll have to forgive me for the omission.

The verdict? Nisi delivers. Yes, it’s certainly pricier than other options in the area, but you definitely get value for your money, in that you probably won’t be able to find this kind of fish quality and freshness at a restaurant anywhere near Englewood. I think Nisi will easily be able to establish itself as the magnet restaurant that Englewood seriously needs, and to be able to distinguish itself from it’s neighbor Axia, as the menu is much more fish focused than Taverna-cuisine focused.

8 Responses to NJ Dining: Nisi Estiatorio

  1. Robin says:

    Thanks for this post.. glad to have this place on my radar. The fish looks so fresh and the dishes very tempting. Can’t wait to go. That Branzino looks fabulous…

    Used to live in Northern NJ and now I’m in Stockton (west/central). While Lambertville is a pretty decent restaurant town, Northern NJ really has the best. And other than Hamilton’s Grill Room down here, I can’t find other super fish places.

  2. scott says:

    sure…..beautiful place and food is very good. But the whole, grilled fish entrees are a rip-off in price. Was over $90 (for us to share) and it came with nothing but a wedge of lemon. They claim it was 2 lbs but not a chance this whole fish weighed in at 2lbs. Sorry to say that despite how great the ambience is and enjoyable the food and service was, I would not go back so fast given the negative feelings we all had related to exhorbitant gouging with NO heads-up from our waiter.

  3. john says:

    Went there this weekend with some friends. Food is amaizing and service was top notch. Not sure about the reviewer who felt like they got ripped off, I was invited up to the fish display to pick out the fish i wanted which was weighed infront of me. The meal was somewhat expensive but concidering the quality of food (the fish looked like it was taken out of the water just hours before it hit the display) and service it was a bargain. Excited to go back again.

    Must try the octopus, grilled jumbo shrimp, fresh fish and save room for desserts!!!!

  4. According to the review in The Record, the restaurant charges up to $38 a pound for fish. Fish is flown halfway around the world for us to enjoy here in northern New Jersey. Wholesale prices for fish are low, so it is hard to understand why this place charges so much. I shop for fresh fish at Korean supermarkets and we eat it out at Wondee’s, which charges about $15 for a one-pound or larger fish. I guess what I am trying to say is you don’t have to go a high-end Greek fish house to get fresh fish. And in response to the previous comment, no fish served in a restaurant was taken out of the water “just hours before it hit the display” unless that restaurant is in Barnegat Light or another fishing port. In fact, most boats stay out for weeks. In general, only day boat scallops are landed the same day they are caught.

    • john says:

      on a recent visit to nisi i spoke with michael the gm at nisi about where they source there fish. he explained to me that some of the fish they serve particularly the lavraki (bronzino) and the royal dorodo actually does come out of the water less than 24 hours from when we see eat on their display. apparently the owners of nisi have a relationship with fisheries in greece who provide the wholesale fish companies who work out of the hunts point fish market in the bronx with their fish. nisi worked out a deal i am told with the fisheries and purchase direct from them in greece (i was told they are the only restaurant in the states who does this with this particular fishery) cutting out the middle man and the extra day or 2 of transportation. michael told me they have hired an import company to take the fish out of customs and deliver to nisi from the airport and when the fish arrive they are still in rigor. he says the fishery they buy from is about and hour from the airport in athens and entire process from the time they order the fish to when it arrives at nisi takes lesss than 24 hours. apparently once the fishery recieves an order they pull the fish from open sea nets that are just off the coast the fish go directly on ice and to the airport. the only day they dont recieve fish from greece is sunday. i actually did some research about this after i spoke with michael and found that greece has the most state of the art fisheries in the world and in fact this is how it works. michale also told me that the owners also own a motel in montauk that is a prominent stop for fisherman. he claims that the manager of the motel hand picks wild line caught fish from fisherman in montauk and has someone drive them back to nisi about 3 times a week. the last time i was there i had a wild porgy from li which was the best fish i have yet to eat at nisi. im not sure if all or any of this is true but i know the fish at nisi is amaizing and i know that their pricing for fish per pound is cheaper than similar greek restaurants charge and that the staff and ambiance in the place is amaizing. so i go, i eat, i enjoy and i pay

  5. […] or A Taste of Greece in River Edge for reasonably priced Greek. At the high end, Axia Taverna and Nisi are also very good […]

  6. bscott says:

    Nisi, as many already may be aware, is closing end of Dec. Sorry to see them leave.

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