Last Thursday, the Gramercy Park neighborhood welcomed the newest addition to its fine dining scene, STIX Mediterranean Grill. It is insufficient to say that STIX opens its doors to the neighborhood — it opens its home to all of New York City. Emphasizing a farm-to-table concept and affordable yet high-quality dining, this restaurant is the very definition of culinary innovation.
“STIX is all about [offering] the Mediterranean experience, from the lifestyle and the way that the ingredients are treated to the way coffee is served in the morning,” said owner and creator Stathis Antonakopoulos.
Together with renowned executive chef Nickolaos Stavrakakis and world-champion barista Stefanos Domatiotis, who brings the quintessential European espresso bar experience to the restaurant, Antonakopoulos has created a particularly unique sensation. STIX offers up the concept of putting food on sticks, as well as one of the most diverse coffee menus in the city.
“The idea of STIX came to me when I was eating a burger at Shake Shack,” Antonakopoulous said. “I saw that one of the oldest ideas, a burger, could be made with superior quality.” With this in mind, he pioneered not only the transformation of the Greek souvlaki, but also the incorporation of a Mediterranean sensibility.
At STIX, breakfast is offered at self-service stations, with everything from home-made marmalade and home-baked goods to fresh yogurt. Coffee is brewed with hand-selected beans that are roasted locally in Brooklyn. The main menu focuses on the “Stix,” which are surrounded by starters, salads, spreads and sides. The genius of this menu is in mixing and matching.
“You can choose one component from each category and create your own plate by marrying them in your own way,” Antonakopoulos explained.
Particularly succulent are the Chef’s Special STIX ($3.95), the chef’s grandmother’s traditional recipe of ground lamb, ground beef, cumin, red wine and garlic served with fresh tomato sauce; and the Chicken STIX ($3.50), a skewer of free-range chicken marinated over honey-mustard sauce. Starters include the creative Sack of Potatoes ($7.95), slowly roasted baby potatoes with feta sauce and the to-die-for meatballs with onions, parsley, oregano, and lemon ($8.50).
Barista Domatiotis recommends the fresh caprese salad ($9.50), a mélange of home-made bocconcini, ripe tomatoes, wild arugula and basil-based olive oil verde sauce. Desserts include the divine Kataifi ($7.25), angel hair mille-feuille with almond-hazelnut Chantilly cream sprinkled with rosewater and honey.
“To us, being genuine is a lifestyle,” Antonakopoulos said. “The DNA of STIX lies in the authentic hospitality that you receive when you visit Mediterranean countries.”
“STIX has the right atmosphere in which to work,” said STIX waiter Dean Connors. “Everyone goes through extensive training, and now we know so much more about food. This really is a completely brand new concept [for a restaurant].”
Also commenting on the restaurant’s originality, CAS sophomore Priyanka Ramesh said, “I have never had anything on a stick before, and I definitely look forward to coming here for breakfast.”
STIX Mediterranean Grill is located at 112 E. 23rd St., between Lexington and Park Avenues.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 4 print edition. Angel Chang is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]