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Lithos Estiatorio: New Jersey’s Greek Gem!
After an exquisite dining experience at New Jersey’s Lithos Estiatorio, it is easy to understand why it consistently receives 4+ star ratings from major food critics. Just over a year old, the fine dining Greek establishment offers a delicious array of dishes, a cosmopolitan ambiance and a knowledgable staff. Upon entering Lithos, a patron is received warmly; a feeling that lasts throughout the entire experience. An impressive onyx open ice fish display catches one’s attention immediately, with its varieties of Mediterranean lavraki, red snapper, black sea bass, tsipoura, lobster, mussels and more.
While true to its roots, Lithos is not your typical blue and white Greek restaurant. It’s neoclassical Hellenic setting in Livingston keeps it classy without having to travel to Manhattan. Overheard at the table next to mine: “This is my first time here. It’s so nice to not have to drive to New York City for this kind of dining night”. Lithos’ name choice, which means “rock”, was inspired by the solid relationship between its founding partners Zisimos Katsoudas and Xristos Karnessis, both well-seasoned in the industry. Elegant stone is implemented throughout its exterior and interior dinning rooms, fireplace and bar.
The well-prepared menu at Lithos caters to all types of pallets. Its appetizers range from traditional Greek options to innovative twists such as “Feta Aiginis”-phyllo wrapped feta cheese topped with crushed pistachios and drizzled with thyme-essenced honey. A personal favorite was “Kalamarakia Lithos”-grilled stuffed calamari with Greek cheeses, herbs and tomato concasse. While the classic h”oriatiki salata” is on point, there are many other refreshing salad options. The “Lithos Salad” is a creative blend of field greens with apple, pistachio and gold raisins, tossed with orange vinaigrette and garnished with kasseri cheese.
Lithos has a vast selection of savory meat and vegetarian entrees in addition to its seafood plates; an element that is critical in its success. Guests are encouraged to ask questions about each dish and if ordering a fish, to select their own from the display. Meat lovers can enjoy many items including “Paidakia Lithos”, char-grilled lamb chops with oregano, haricot vert and lemon potatoes or “Hirini Brizola”, a grilled pork chop topped with julienne of pepper and onions, among others. A popular seafood specialty is the “Orzo ala Ouzo”, with wild shrimp, ouzo, tomato sauce and infused cream sauce. Vegetarian? No problem. “Papoutsakia”, baked eggplant with onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes and feta cheese is a tasty hit.
Desserts are equally as pleasing and feature the extraordinary “Kataifi Politiko”, pan-fried kataifi phyllo filled with mozzarella, honey syrup and crushed pistachios. While the restaurant is definitely upscale, it offers an affordable Pre-Fixe dinner and lunch menu. Both include an appetizer, entree and dessert. Inventive daily specials are a must try too! Wines from many different regions in Greece are offered in Lithos’ comprehensive list, along with European, Chilean, Argentinian and American bottles. Greece’s Mythos beer is an added plus to its alcohol offerings.
Lithos features a truly ethnic “Greek Night” at least once a month after dinner service that includes a lively Greek band and two singers. Dancing is highly encouraged by both owners and the team, until the wee hours of morning. Co-owners Katsoudas and Karnessis originate from Nafpaktos and Piraeus, respectively. They wanted to create the perfect setting that could provide stellar cuisine from different domains of Greece, while offering hospitality with a little kefi. Outdoor patio dining is available on the premises. A private party room is located in its lower level and is a great place for events. This Greek Mediterranean restaurant is indeed a true gem and much needed venue in New Jersey. The garden state is very lucky to call Lithos Estiatorio its own!