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With a new restaurant to call his own, Alex Katehis has fulfilled a lifelong dream.
“When I came to New York, I didn’t go to school, I went straight to work,” Katehis said. I had a dream to go be a chef, but I never did it.”
“I never became a chef, but I learned a lot in the restaurants working with the chefs,” he continued. “Each restaurant you go to, you learn. If you take a little from here, a little from there, you can open your own place and do good.”
The 52-year-old, who emigrated from Greece to New York at 16, took over the old 1331 Mediterranean Grill in N. Bellmore earlier this year.
He then renovated the space to open his own Greek spot, Souvlaki Street, where he now cooks his own recipes in his own kitchen with his wife, Ismini.
So he’s finally made his dream come true.
“I’m very happy here and the customers like my food, they like the service,” he said. “I love what I do. If you’re not going to love your job, you’re not going to do it right. All my life, I do this.”
A splash of new
Anyone craving a traditional Greek lamb gyro or chicken souvlaki is in luck at Souvlaki Street, but that’s hardly the extent of the menu.
For starters, guests can order the Loukaniko, or Greek sausage, the dolmadakia, or grape leaves, and homemade spinach pie.
Groups might also want to consider ordering a family platter that’s loaded with up to four meats and various sides and dips from across the restaurant’s menu.
You can order from an assortment of options that includes beef kebab, chicken souvlaki, grilled chicken and pork souvlaki. For sides, there’s lemon potatoes, French fries and horiatiki and prasini salads, as well as hummas and eggplant dips.
While traditional Greek dishes are still the restaurant’s bread and butter, the most popular item, and one Katehis is most proud of, breaks away from the Old Country: the kotobacon. The dish consists of grilled chicken chunks wrapped in bacon served as a wrap or on a platter.
Always one to experiment in his home kitchen, it’s likely Katehis will continue to create new dishes for his customers.
“Always, when I have people over I cook, I was the one going out to barbecue, do new recipes, new sauces,” he said. “I would always try to do something new, to do something better.
“There’s so many restaurants, so customers have a lot of choices,” he continued.
“You have to do something special to keep them.”
Top: GLI Stock image