All photos courtesy of New Jersey Family staff
Walk into Elia, the much-buzzed-about modern Greek restaurant in East Rutherford, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the island of Mykonos or Santorini. With its all white-décor, epic fresh seafood display and a menu that boasts everything from 18-inch tiger shrimp to Lavraki, the minds behind Elia want to make you feel like you’re dining along the Mediterranean.
For months, we’ve been wanting to check it out, especially after hearing that celebs like Alicia Keyes have eaten here. We finally got to go recently and just as we suspected: It did not disappoint. Once the home of the four-decade-old Park & Orchard in East Rutherford, Elia, the Greek word for olive, is a stunning Instaworthy space decked out with authentic furniture and accents from Crete.
The brainchild of Annamaria Adinolfi and her mother Anna Rosati, Elia is a family affair managed by Tim Salouros, Adinolfi’s fiancé, with executive chef Jose Luis Falcon at the helm of the kitchen. The cuisine is as authentic as it gets thanks to Adinolfi and Rosati. Salouros and Falcon have worked at restaurants in the Hamptons and Manhattan (fans of the former China Grill in New York City may recognize Falcon who was the chef there) and make sure every dish that’s served up is as aesthetically gorgeous as it is delicious.
On the night we visited, we tried a range of fresh seafood and popular Greek staples. We kicked things off with cocktails at Elia's massive bar which stays open late on Fridays and Saturdays. We tried a Greek twist on a classic mojito using mastic—a perfect mix of sweet and sour.
Next, we delved into the apps—always my favorite part of any meal and the mix here is beyond, boasting classics like baby shrimp and calamari and a mix of Greek spreads including tzatziki, roasted eggplant, spicy feta and a dreamy yellow split pea and tomato. The tuna tartare really stands out thanks to a harissa puree and crispy quinoa. And while all the apps are amazing, there are two that feel especially unique to Elia: the sushi grade grilled octopus served with potatoes, grape tomatoes, balsamic onions and Romesco sauce and the sesame crusted feta, also served with grape tomatoes plus olives, red wine poached dry figs and mint. The feta is barrel-aged and its soft milky texture pairs perfectly with crunchy sesame and figs.
Dinner consisted of Lavraki, a European sea bass, and halibut made with sour trahana, grape tomatoes, peas, basil, currants, grapes, and chestnut puree. With seafood delivered fresh daily, you can't go wrong with any of the fish options on the menu. Dessert is all about baklava, homemade yogurt and some amazing deep-fried bite-sized Loukoumades (Greek for doughnuts). And if you like your coffee strong, be sure to order a cup here.
240 Hackensack St, East Rutherford
Open seven days