Jules eats world.

Monday, December 18, 2006


The name of this restaurant, according to its website, is "nearly impossible to translate," but essentially means a group of people who enjoy being together. Parea succeeds in achieving this sort of camaraderie surrounding food -- my favorite kind of camaraderie, of course. The atmosphere works to foster this feeling, with a combination of long, communal tables and more common two-and-four tops. The ceiling is raised, and a canopy of leaves, made out of metal, give it a further airy feeling. Large columns give a taste of the restaurant's Greek pedigree without giving a heavy or solemn feel to the room.

Parea bills its food as "modern Greek cuisine," but besides its presentation, doesn't stray too far from the traditional fold, especially in terms of ingredients. I started with the most traditional Greek drink -- ouzo. I've developed a taste for the licorice-flavored liquors favored in the Mediterranean basin: ouzo, pastis, raki, arak...and Parea had, to my untrained eye, a good selection. When we sat down (I'd had the drink at the bar), we ordered a bottle of Greek red, that was decent but not spectacular. The food, however, delivered: grilled octopus salad with black-eyed peas; roasted eggplant spread; and a delicious moussaka with lamb.

The main course, however, was the standout: Mr. H and I shared a wild Pacific sea bass, wrapped in grape leaves and roasted. The flesh of the fish was tender and juicy, the grape leaves lending a slightly bitter but not overpowering note. At $35 per person, it was far from a bargain, but also included two sides. We chose the Greek thick-cut fries, and the horta, a mustard-green-like vegetable. Both were tasty. Our friends were pleased with their selections as well.

36 E. 20th St.
Between Broadway & Park


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