Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anyone who wants to get a sense for how the well-to-do party, Greek style, should take a cab ride about 6 km (4 miles) north of central Athens to the suburb of Neo Psychico. Here you’ll find the chichiest shops and some of the city’s most crowded restaurants, cafes and bars. On the main strip jutting out from the big A/B (pronounced Alpha-Beta) supermarket everything from traditional fare to Sino-Greek fusion, to Italian food can be samples. My last visit here was to the newest addition, Adamo, a bustling be-everything-to-everyone place that is part cigar bar, part cafĂ©, part enoteca, and part restaurant.  It sits in a space once occupied by Dioskouroi, in its heyday a very well-known Greek taverna. We sat in the quietest spot in the restaurant, at the one table inside the glass-enclosed cava, but it was still hard to hear my neighbor.
Adamo is for ears more resilient than mine, or maybe for diners who also don’t mind donning ear plugs. Is it worth the trek north for this? Probably not. Better, much better, Italian food can be found downtown.
All the classics are on the menu, from carpaccio of bresaola, to the married-forever duo of prosciutto and mozzarella (buffalo), to vitello tonnato.
Most of what we tried was a little heavy-handed; much of it was drenched in oil. A plate of grilled vegetables with thyme vinairette and buffalo-milk mozzarella was denser and wetter than it needed to be. Vegetables grilled included red peppers, zucchini, and carrots. I would have tried the scallop (fresh from the Aegean, but where? Are scallops a native of Greek waters?) carpaccio with truffles, but a 93 euro price tag prevented me ordering it (as a starter BTW). I love vitello tonnato, but skipped it here, mainly because my dining companions opted instead for a few risotti and more. An appetizer of hot radicchio stuffed with mozzarella, prosciutto, parmesan, and arugula, dressed in the all-powerful balsamic turned out to be better than expected, the pleasant bitterness of the vegetable playing nicely against the sweet, almost syrupy consistency of the dressing.
It’s hard to go wrong with the intoxicating aromas of a truffle risotto, even if it is a bit played out. This one was competent. So was the Milanese risotto, if a bit staid and run of the mill. (It happened that I had just tasted another one, at the new Fuga near the Athens Music Hall, which was ethereal.) The tagliata with greens come served on a sizzling hot plate. The meat was a little tough.
Desserts included a tiramisu, a chocolate soufflĂ©, and a lemon tart. Everything here was designed to be a risk-free collection of classics that satisfies the average Joe, even if he’s driving a Porsche Cayenne.
Dim. Vasileiou 16, Neo Psychiko
Tel. 210 671 3997
Prices: 35 – 50 euro a person