In ancient times, according to Homer, the Greek gods would feast on ambrosia and sip on nectar. The old bard never mentioned what, exactly, ambrosia was—only that it was fragrant, restorative, and pleasing to the senses. Had he lived another 2,000-plus years, Homer might have found some of the same qualities in the food at Avra.
The brainchild of Greek restaurateur Nick Tsoulos in partnership with Nick Pashalis and Marc Packer, Avra was born in Midtown Manhattan in 2000 and has recently expanded to the Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach. There, Tsoulos continues the tradition of “pure ingredients and simple preparations” in the brand’s first oceanfront location. The experience begins at the ice case, where the fresh catch of the day, mostly flown in from the Med, is on display. Pick your favorite and have it prepared Greek-style, grilled and drizzled with ladolemono, a simple sauce of EVOO, lemon, and oregano.
The menu includes a number of authentic dishes, like a horiatiki salad with slabs of feta, cucumbers, and thick-cut tomatoes that go through a rigorous selection process. If they don’t taste and smell like those from the old country, they don’t make it onto the plate. Don’t miss delicacies like the grilled octopus, Chilean sea bass souvlaki, and grilled halloumi with orange and Greek honey. For dessert, skip the baklava and order a portokalopita, an orange sponge cake soaked in fragrant syrup. You rarely get this outside of Greece. Pair it all with some nice Greek wines, and you’ll understand why the gods were so happy.