Sailing to Greece…on East 54th Street

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


I have a list of locations in the world I am very anxious to visit, and one of the countries included is Greece.

I love the people, the architecture and history, the white washed houses, and the blue sea. And then, there is the food. Ah, Greek food. I just feel so healthy when I dine on Greek cuisine. Fresh fish, vegetables, feta cheese, crisp white wine; my arteries are so happy when eating Greek food. As a fine example, a few years ago, following a very strict 10 day cleanse, what did I crave? Fish and wine at a Greek restaurant.

Recently, I walked past an intriguing restaurant in midtown, that captured my attention. I remembered the name, and looked it up. “I want to go there one day,” I said to myself. That day came just last week.

We were invited to a surprise party for a friend at the Monkey Bar on 54th Street. A great New York tradition for sure.

But when we got there, we learned that the surprise was actually to take place at the restaurant directly across the street.

All 50 of us were going to walk up to the second floor, champagne in hand, where the birthday girl was having dinner with her husband and two friends, and yell “surprise!” What a fun and different idea from the party planner! And what a great benefit for me, because the restaurant across the street was the place I had filed away in my head and wanted to patronize. The establishment is Nerai, a truly fabulous Greek restaurant that is gorgeous and enchanting.

Everything about the interior design makes you feel as if you are on vacation on some remote Greek island.

The glasses are even tinted Mediterranean blue.

Sailing to Greece...on East 54th Street
And the food! Lavraki could not be fresher or better prepared. The hummus was not your institutional kind. Instead, it was subtly flavored and delicious. The vegetables were outstanding, and even the rice was scented with mint (one of my all time favorite herbs.) We began this party with towers of oysters, lobster meat and massive shrimp, followed by a truly traditional Greek salad (not the one you would get in a Greek diner).

And for dessert, luscious Greek yogurt with honey and berries, followed by delicate bites of baklava.

Nerai bills itself as haute Greek cuisine and I think that is a great description.

There is a garden room upstairs, and a wine cave downstairs. Perfect for private dinners or parties.
And, I just found out on their website, that Nerai is a no-tipping restaurant.


Sailing to Greece...on East 54th Street

Sure, Greece is still a top destination for me, but if I can’t get there just yet, I will simply walk over to Nerai.

55 East 54 Street, NYC


  • Valerie Smaldone

    Valerie Smaldone is a 5-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and is well known for her unprecedented success holding the #1 on-air position in the New York radio market on 106.7 Life-FM, an iHeart station. She has hosted, produced, and created several award-winning nationally syndicated programs featuring in-depth interviews with stars like Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Mariah Carey among others. Her radio talk show "Bagels and Broadway" highlighted theatre and food personalities. She is an accomplished interviewer and voice artist heard on commercials, narrations, promos and audiobooks, as well as a sought after live announcer. Most recently, Valerie produced and directed a film, The Thursday Night Club, featuring pop diva Gloria Gaynor in her movie acting debut. She is one of the creators and producers of a docu-series, Divine Renovation, starring Erik Estrada, on streaming networks soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.