This Week’s Restaurant Review: Greenhouse Cafe in Pearl River

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Small Bites readers get a sneak peek at restaurant reviews. Add your comments below and my editors and I will select a few that represent what readers are saying and publish them alongside the “official” reviews in the Journal News on Wednesday.

This week, Jill and Deven Black look at the Greenhouse Cafe in Pearl River.

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Deven Black and Jill Rovitzky Black
For The Journal News

The Greenhouse Café brings to mind memorable marketing themes like “Tastes Great!/Less filling!” In that same vein, this Pearl River restaurant could accurately advertise, “It’s a Greek restaurant!/It’s an Italian restaurant!”

Big deal, you might say. Walk into practically any diner around and you can choose between chicken parm and moussaka. True enough, but the Greenhouse Café ranks several important notches above that experience, so that it bridges the gap between diner and dinner, by virtue of its focused menu, airy, plant-filled environment, and efficient and hospitable service that tells you that you’re in experienced hands.

Going on the basis that despite its growing popularity, Greek food is still more elusive than Italian in these parts, we stay mostly toward the Greek side of the menu and have been rewarded, especially among the starters. The tatziki, akin to an Indian raita, has dense, tangy yogurt, refreshing cucumber, and the lively bite of garlic. On a hot summer night, you could get a double order and just make a dinner out of tatziki and pita.

Saganaki is another good choice. The salty cheese is served on fire, then doused with a squeezed lemon half at the table, giving you a blend of melty, toasty, and tart. (Safety note: If you’re dining with cheese-loving children who are wowed by the spectacle, this is the time to use that time-honored phrase, “Kids, don’t try this at home.”)

Spanokopita, often served as an appetizer, moves up to the entrée category here. A pair of the flaky, triangular spinach turnovers makes a tasty, albeit light, meal. They’re served with a small bowl of applesauce. It’s not a bad combination, but a bit nontraditional. Call it a quirk of the house.

It’s important to note that the menu doesn’t consist entirely of overtly Greek or Italian dishes. There are plenty of standard choices, with a focus on fish and seafood (there’s that Ionian Sea again), plus broiled chops, steaks, and chicken. One standout: the tender lamb shish kabob.

Another standout, this time from the dessert menu: the house-made cheesecake. Its excellent texture is halfway between a full-on creamy New York style and a drier Italian style — another example of the synergy that is at the heart of this restaurant. A subtle hint of lemon makes the cheesecake seem deceptively light, as if you could eat it for days with no consequence.

That’s a danger, considering the size of the portion we were served. Prepare to share.

The synergy of location also boosts the appeal of the Garden Café: It adjoins a florist shop, plus has a wall full of windows that boast a line of impressively green and healthy hanging plants. All that flora and foliage add a special touch to the décor.

All in all, the Greenhouse Café is a steady, reliable place. It’s not overtly formal or fancy; neither is it extremely casual. You won’t find cutting-edge creativity, but you’ll find well-prepared, professionally served, tasty food — a solid bet for a dinner out.

Greenhouse Cafe
165 N. Middletown Road, Pearl River.
845-735-2765

Cuisine
Greek
Italian

Price
Entrees $10 to $20

Hours
Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Dinner only Sunday. Closed Monday.

In brief
Synergy is the name of the game here, with a menu that happily embraces classic Greek and Italian dishes, plus perennial favorites like steak, chops, roast chicken, and grilled fish, prepared with quiet expertise. You won’t get flashy creativity, but you can expect to be treated and fed well. Bonus: You will feel like you’re eating in a greenhouse — the restaurant adjoins a florist shop and the windows are filled with improbably lush hanging plants.

Features
Senior Appeal, Kid Friendly, Jeans OK, Vegetarian Friendly

What we liked (name a few dishes)
Spanokopita, saganaki, tatziki, chicken parmesan, lamb shish kabob, cheesecake

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

4 Comments

  1. Nice, casual, with a friendly wait staff. And the service is such that you can have lunch and get back to work within the hour. The atmosphere is relaxing with all that greenery around you.

  2. Maureen Landers on

    My husband and I consider The Greenhouse Cafe a favorite restaurant of ours. The Greek salad and Greek chicken soup(can’t remember name) are perfect starters. Whatever entree you choose is cooked to perfection, especially if they have Long Island Roast Duck on the menu! Their chicken francese is superb as is their Shrimp parm. The service is very accomodating and friendly. All in all a great place for dinner.

  3. The soup is called avgolemono and as the name implies, is a chicken soup heavily (at its best) flavored with lemon. Other ingredients include eggs and either rice or orzo.

  4. Jean Stellato on

    Wonderful food – the chicken/lemon soup is absolutely delicious. The cheesecake is a perfect ending to a great meal. Wonderful service – attentive and friendly. My favorite restaurant in Pearl River.

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