Greek Wines & Good Vibes: Inside Avra Beverly Hills

Explore the buzziest dining experience in the 90120...

Escaping to the Greek Islands is a dream for many Angelenos, and while not everyone can jet-set at the drop of hat, Avra Beverly Hills authentically brings the tastes, traditions and culinary techniques of the region to Southern California, transporting its patrons to an enchanting Mediterranean experience.

The history of Avra began in the coastal Greek village of Nafpaktos where cofounder Nick Tsoulos was born and raised. Tsoulos, his father and uncles would regularly fish for local seafood such as fagri, dorado, octopus and red mullet and feasted on what they caught over long and relaxed family dinners.

Outdoor Patio

“We would either grill the fish over charcoals or slice it thin and drizzle it with olive oil from our family farm, lemon and salt,” recalls Tsoulos. “Along with the fish, we ate salads made with produce from our garden, spinach pies and other hot dishes that my grandmother cooked. The adults also drank plenty of great local wine.”

Never forgetting their beloved culinary traditions, his family immigrated to Astoria, in Queens, New York and opened several Greek restaurants. In 2000, in collaboration with Marc Packer and Nick Pashalis, Tsoulos opened the first Avra location in NYC, while two other Manhattan locations, as well as Miami and Beverly Hills later followed.

Selma Blair, Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Ellen Pompeo at Avra Beverly Hills (Photo by Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com)

Today, Avra Beverly Hills—which opens its doors in 2018—stands as one of the buzziest restaurants in the 90210. From power lunches to posh dinners, the hotspot regularly brings in an A-List clientele, from industry titans to Hollywood celebs, including Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Halle BerryCindy Crawford, Selma Blair, Ellen Pompeo, Nicola Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham and Sofia Vergara.

The 11,000-square-foot eatery, located in the “Golden Triangle” of Beverly Hills, creates an atmosphere similar to that of an open-air villa in Greece, with fresh lemon trees, bougainvilleas, whitewashed wood grain and alabaster walls. Private dining options include the Wine Villa, which can seat up to 36 guests, the Art Villa, which can seat up to 80 guests, and the intimate Beverly Room. which can seat up to 22 guests.

Classic Spreads
On the menu, guests will find elevated traditional Greek cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Diners can dive right in to the Mediterranean experience with mouth-watering appetizers like the Grilled Octopus, Chilean Sea Bass Souvlaki, Manouri Saganaki made with manouri cheese, filo dough, balsamic glaze and honey and the Ouzo Mussels. While you wait on your main course, be sure to snack on their famous Avra Chips or try out their Classic Spreads, including the Tarama, Melintzanosalata, Htipiti, Tzatziki, Scordalia and Fava.
Chilean Sea Bass Plaki

For meat lovers, the Filet Mignon, Grilled Oraganic Chicken with Mediterranean herbs and  lemon-roasted potatoes, Grilled Colorado Lamb Chops and Prime NY Strip Steak are sure to satisfy, while vegetarian options, like the Israeli Salad, are also available.

Staying true to its coastal roots, Avra’s seafood selection is unparalleled. Freshly caught whole fish is flown in daily from Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Florida and New Zealand and is sold by the pound at market price and charcoal grilled with olive oil, lemon, sea salt, saffron and mustard. All served deboned, standout fish selections include the Fagri known as the “King of the Agean” which is a firm, tasty Mediterranean White Snapper, the Lavraki, which is a Loup de Mer, a lean, mild, sweet and flaky white fish and the St. Pierre which is a Christopsaro with a firm textured and unique elegant taste.

Other standout items from the sea include the Live Langoustines, Chilean Sea Bass Plaki, King Tiger Prawns and several selections of Sashimi and Oysters. (Oh, and don’t sleep on the to-die-for Lobster Pasta).

Seafood Display

To compliment the robust menu, Avra’s wine list is stacked with exciting options, ranging from California favorites, like the Daou Grenache to rare Greek varieties, like the Peloponnese’s Moschofilero Gai’a Monograph plus the house Avra Assyrtiko from Santorini.

“You want to always do a Greek wine and Greek food,” Wilven Ho, Sommelier at Avra Beverly Hills suggests to Loop Magazine. “The Assyrtiko pairs the majority of our dishes. It’s more minerally driven, almost similar to a Chablis, but it doesn’t have that limestone, and is more clear and more citrus based. It’s a very nice approach to the salads and the lighter fishes, like the Branzino.”
 
Hr continued. “You can’t go wrong with the Assyrtiko. It’s essentially like a marriage pairing. Our Avra Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is delicious as well.  It is a staple and a standout wine.”
 
Avra winemakers Russell and Heidi Bevan put in meticulous detail crafting and curating their product. “They approach the wines where you can enjoy the wine and it’s still big and jammy, but it doesn’t overpower your palate” says Ho. “So you’re always able to drink more than one glass at a time.”
 
Because Avra’s menu is seafood centric, white wines tend to be the most popular order. “We see a lot of Avra Assyrtiko going out and French whites, as well as the Farnese Chardonnay, which is very popular,” says Ho. “But more so, it’s just a diversity. Some people enjoy red, so they mainly drink Pinot Noir. As well as some of the Russian River Valley wines that we carry as well.”
 
He added, “My approach is not necessarily to sell guests a wine I like, but more what people are looking for, tailored to their own tastes.”
Bar

If vino isn’t your vibe, don’t sweat. Behind the bar, Avra mixologists are serving up chic Greek-inspired cocktails, such the Mykonos Breeze made with Belvedere Heritage 176, velvet falernum, passionfruit and lemon, the Meet Me In Corfu made with Don Julio Reposado, pineapple, jalapeño and mint and the Artemis Arrow made with the Greek liquor Kleos Mastiha, lemon, basil and prosecco.

And be sure to save room for dessert, with delectable Greek options like the lemon chantilly Olive Oil Cake, Galaktoboureco which is a semolina custard baked in filo with orange lemon syrup, the Mini Crepes with Greek sour cherry preserve and vanilla ice cream and traditional Baklava.

There are also several Greek Apperitifs and Digestifs options to finish off the night, like the Greek spirit Tsipouro or the Ouzo Barbayianni “Aphrodite” from Lesvos which is creamy and smooth with a spicy finish.

Avra Beverly Hills
233 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel: (310) 734-0841
@avraestiatorio
Make Reservations HERE

Mykonos Breeze

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