HUNTINGTON — For Navarino Bay owner Yiorgie Alexandropoulos, a passion for Greek heritage and food runs in the family. He is the son of George Alexandropoulos, owner of Jolly Pirate Donuts which expanded to include a Greek deli several years ago.
Navarino Bay recently opened at The Market, a new indoor shopping center on 3rd Avenue in downtown Huntington. The new restaurant serves rack of lamb, beef soulvlaki, gyros and a variety of other traditional Greek dishes.
"This building was home to Whiskey Rocks, Banana Joe's, The Wild Dawg and Robby's. I was approached about two years ago by Phil Nelson when I was looking at another location for the restaurant. That location fell through, and I talked to Phil about going into The Market."
Alexandropoulous said it took a lot of work - stretching from September 2017 to the restaurant's opening in March - to create the space he wanted.
"The kitchen wasn't here, the bathrooms were here but in the wrong place, and the walls for our kitchen weren't here," he said. "The core of my bar is the original core of the bar that was upstairs. (We had to do) everything from new plumbing, to new electrical to new heating."
The name comes from a bay near the city of Pylos in Greece, he said.
"It was named by the Italians after the battle of Navarino, which was the last Western naval battle fought with ships that had sails. It's about 10 minutes to my grandmother's house. So every time we go to Greece, we go to the beach at Navarino," Alexandropoulous said.
The dinner menu features a variety of beef, poultry and seafood dishes, including Beef Souvlaki ($17), Shrimp Saganaki ($12), and Pasta Aglio E Olio ($13.50). There also is a small lunch menu that includes a Traditional Gyro made with pork ($9.50), a Greek sausage called Loukaniko ($7), and a Horiatiki Salad ($8.50).
"We are trying to revolutionize the way people are eating in town. I'm striving to modernize a lot of what the Greek food template is. We start out with a lot of traditional Greek things that have been made more modern in the way they're served, prepared and flavored." Alexandropoulos said.
"For instance if you go to Greece when you get Beef Souvlaki it comes with salt, pepper, oregano and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice. Our Beef Souvlaki comes with honey oregano glaze that is extremely unique."
The restaurant's lunch menu is designed with speed in mind so folks can get in and out in their lunch hour.
"The dinner menu is built for a more relaxing sit down meal," he said. "Everything is handmade in house. We have a full service bar where we make cocktails with a Greek liquor called Ouzo. For years I've been trying to find ways to mix it into cocktails. Our wine list is ever-expanding. We have a small selection of Greek wines as well as Russian, Spanish and even an Argentinian wine."
Alexandropoulos said the biggest misconception Americans have with Greek food is actually with the gyros.
"If you were to step off of a plane in Athens and go get a gyro, you're going to get pork. If you drive six hours from the airport to a tiny village, you're going to get pork. The idea that Greeks eat lamb all the time is a little bit of an Americanized concept," he said. "Lamb is a staple of Greek culture, but their relationship with it is more like how Americans view turkey - it's traditionally eaten at Easter and big family celebrations."
Navarino Bay is located at 809 3rd Ave. in the back of The Market. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted. For carry-out orders call 681-378-0020.
If you go: Navarino Bay
ADDRESS: 809 3rd Ave., Huntington
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
PAYMENTS ACCEPTED: Cash and all major credit cards