Zaytinya is located right next to the N (yellow) line off 28th St inside of the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel on the first floor. This is another restaurant of José Andrés, and the menu has a lot of classical Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese influences. What was appealing to us was the menu had hummus, and the prices did not seem too expensive despite being inside a luxury hotel. When you enter the restaurant, it has a very open and modern Greek ambiance to it, similar to many other Greek restaurants in the city. However (in a good way), there were several things we immediately noticed that separate itself. We made a reservation for a Saturday at 3:30 PM for a late lunch.
The interior is very open and airy. My partner said it reminded them of all the Greek restaurants that have seafood showcased out in the open. I can definitely see some of that vibe. Be warned that you may want to bring a light jacket because they do keep the air nice and cool.
The restaurant menu in general is intended for sharing with your party. The portion sizes are not huge, but they are good portions.
The service was very nice. Our wait staff kept checking on us if we wanted more bread and kept our cups of water filled with no hesitation. They also helped us plan our meal and suggested the right amount of food for 2.
The Ankara Rye Club ($19 - left) came with Old Forester rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, thyme, cumin, and aromatic bitters. This was a play on a Manhattan. I felt it was decent and definitely not my favorite although it was smooth.
The Dancing Tree Martini ($19 - right) came with Stray Dog green gin, Otto’s Athens vermouth, and lavender bitters. I’m not a fan of gin, but my partner ordered this and did not particularly enjoy it. I think they were expecting something sweet, but there was not much of that profile there.
They gave us complimentary bread with olive oil and pomegranate molasses. The bread came out with 3 hot puffy pieces. The bread was very fluffy and delicious. You can ask for an unlimited amount of bread throughout your dinner here.
The Hommus Ma Lahm ($14) came with hummus (I’m changing the spelling here), spiced ground lamb, pine nuts, and house-pickled vegetables. My partner asked them to remove the mint from the dish, and they were able to accommodate. During the first bite, my partner’s eyes lit up of pure enjoyment and love. They claimed it’s one of the best hummus they have ever had. The ground lamb added a nice ground meat texture with some lamb flavors. I thought it was quite delicious, especially with that fluffy hot bread.
The Tzatziki ($11) came with Greek yogurt with diced cucumbers and dill. This is the perfect complement to a hot day. I love tzatziki in general, and this was by far one of the best I’ve had. Maybe it’s the hot bread that gave it extra points, but I was feeling like I was in heaven when I was eating this.
The Garides Me Anitho ($18) came with sautéed shrimp, dill, shallots, mustard, and lemon juice. Again, my partner’s eyes and taste buds lit up when they took a bite of this. They said it reminded them of their hometown where the seafood is much cheaper but were all drenched with this sauce. The sauce had lots of shallots and lemon, so it was very tart and had strong onion flavors. The mustard also added a nice zing to it too. The shrimp was super fresh, and my partner basically took the bread and soaked all the sauce of this.
The Imam Bayildi ($15) came with eggplant, onions, and tomato slowly cooked in olive oil with aromatic spices and garnished with pine nuts. I’m not a fan of eggplant in general, but my partner enjoyed this. I feel like it tasted basically like roasted eggplant with some tomato purée on it.
The Kebab Platter ($59) came with lamb, kofte, chicken, and adana kebabs served with tomato, onion, and garlic toum. For hot sauce, they gave us a harissa-like sauce. The garlic toum reminded me of the garlic whip at Los Angeles' Zankou Grill. It was not as garlicky but still mighty tasty. All the kebabs tasted fantastic. By this point, we were already pretty full, but I was quintuple thinking about continuing eating this. The kebabs are served on top of a flat pita-like bread which was a little on the salty side. I really loved the grilled cherry tomatoes. There was really no bad way to eat this because it was good.
The Islak Kek ($14) dessert came with Turkish soaked chocolate cake, barberries, sweet cheese, labneh espuma, and red fruit granita. The fluffy white foam is the labneh espuma, and it had a lot of lemon-tartness to it. The red fruit granita definitely had a lot of strong berry flavors and gave it the fruity-sugary flavors. Underneath this was the Turkish soaked chocolate cake. The chocolate cake did not have as much sweetness, but regardless, it was overwhelmed by the red fruit granita and foam. Nevertheless, it was a perfect dessert for the summer because it was a cold dessert with a nice sour/sugar sensation to it. It was less chocolatey than expected, which is fine because I didn’t crave for milk.
José Andrés new NYC restaurant is a fantastic Mediterranean addition to the Midtown area. I would definitely recommend this for a party of people that wants to try delicious portions of spreads and kebab meats. The price is really not too expensive, and I think I would very much prefer this place over all the seafood Greek places in the city. We were very impressed by the food for lunch, and we would love to come back again with friends for dinner.
Very good, but shy of excellence. Space is beautiful. Service was attentive at times, spotty at others. Labneh was over-salted (and I am a salt fiend)
I think in general the labneh everywhere is salty. I definitely drank my share of water, but I kind of expected that.
- Jul 30, 2022 - Initial revision.