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’s storefront on 90 Grand Avenue in Englewood.
The bar dining area has a warm Mediterranean atmosphere, which I found particularly inviting with the sub-freezing weather.
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A selection of olives in the bar area.
Happy patrons in the bar area.
General Manager/Partner Mike Liristis oversees his guests.
Nisi’s Chef de Cuisine/Executive Chef, John Piliouras. Chef John hails originally from the critically-acclaimed MOLYVOS in New York City.
Nisi’s main dining room is spacious and yet still manages to convey the warmth of a Mediterranean fish house.
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.
Wines by the glass list. This is only the first page of a very comprehensive wine list. Click on the photo to enlarge.
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.
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.
Fish Display closeup.
The wild and firm-textured shrimps (bottom) are used in Nisi’s Saganaki dish.
I’m not sure who these guys are but they look pretty depressed.
First Plates (Mezedes) menu. Click on the photo to enlarge.
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).
“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.
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.
Skordalia closeup, on whole grain pita bread toastpoint.
Main dishes. Click the photo to enlarge.
Wild Shrimp Saganaki.
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.
Here’s our friend Mr. Grilled Octopus again, this time paired with grilled fennel seasoned with Sumac.
I love the presentation on this Manouri salad.
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.
Whole loup de mer/Branzino fish, grilled.
Same fish after professional fillet job, done in the kitchen.
Grilled Vegetables, the side for the fish.
Absolutely perfectly grilled Lamb Chops. Even though Nisi is primarily a fish restaurant, a meat eater could have an equally wonderful time here.
Greek Gigante beans. They’re called Gigantes because they really are huge beans, as big as really large lima beans.
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.
Dessert Menu. Click photo to enlarge.
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’s take on a traditional Baklava, which was amazing.
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.