Celeb Chef Michael Psilakis To Open MP Taverna in Irvington


Chef Michael Psilakis —  a Food & Wine Best New Chef, Chef of the Year from Bon Appetit and and Esquire and a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant for Anthos, his now-closed modern Greek restaurant in Manhattan — will be bringing his bold-flavored but refined dishes to a new restaurant in Irvington: MP Taverna.

The restaurant — which is the second MP Taverna; the first is Roslyn, on Long Island — is taking over the spot where Day Boat Cafe was, at the bottom of the hill near Red Hat on the River. A press release calls the menu “his modern interpretation of a traditional Greek taverna,” and says it “pays homage to Psilakis’s Greek roots and home cooking, will offer guests accessible Greek cuisine at a comfortable price point.”

Psilakis, who also owns Kefi, a rustic Greek neighborhood restaurant, and FISHTAG, a wine bar-meets-seafood parlor, both in Manhattan,  will also open two other places: MP BBQ and MP To Go — both next door to the restaurant in Irvington.

Photo by Michael Harlan Turkell 

I will give you more information as I get it. For now, here is a photo of the famous (and incredibly delicious) lamb burger that he served at Anthos:

You can find a bio of Psilakis after the jump.

Bringing his acclaimed cuisine to the suburbs is an important step in the implementation of his vision for integrating Greek cuisine into the fabric of mainstream American dining. Anthos also received a Michelin star – one of only two Greek restaurants in the world to hold that honor – and was named one of the best new restaurants by The New York Times. Psilakis currently owns the Upper West Side restaurantsHe opened MP Taverna, a modern interpretation of a traditional Greek taverna in Roslyn, NY in May 2011.

He is the Co-Executive Producer and Co-Star of BBC AMERICA’s new original adventure cooking competition series, No Kitchen Required, which premieres in April 2012. The show follows three chefs as they are dropped into the most exotic and remote places on Earth.

Psilakis’ first cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb, was published by in October 2009. The book is a culinary tribute to Psilakis’ Greek heritage and has gone on to win countless awards including the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine.

Here’s more:






Chef / Owner, Kefi, FISHTAG, MP Taverna


Michael Psilakis has acquired many of the food world’s highest honors in the short time he has been on the culinary scene. In 2008 alone, Psilakis was awarded Food & Wine’s Best New Chef and Bon Appetit’s Chef of the Year distinctions; nominated for A-List Chef by Bravo TV; and had his upscale Greek restaurant, Anthos, nominated for a James Beard Award in the category of Best New Restaurant. He was also named “Chef of the Year” by Esquire Magazine and his restaurant Anthos was awarded a Michelin star and named the third of ten best new restaurants by The New York Times restaurant reviewer, Frank Bruni.


As the eldest first generation son in a traditional Greek family on Long Island, Psilakis was destined to embody the hospitality and appreciation for food so highly valued by his party-loving family. When his father installed an immense BBQ in the backyard, he taught young Michael to roast whole lambs on a spit.


A tremendous cook, the chef’s mother taught him everything about the flavors and techniques of classic Greek cooking and remains his greatest influence in the kitchen. “Even today, the flavors of my dishes are my mother’s flavors,” says Psilakis. “And my instincts for taking Greek cuisine in new directions—these I’ve inherited from her.”


In college he earned a BBA in accounting and finance as per his father’s wishes, but after found work as a waiter at T.G.I. Fridays, where the possibilities of a career in restaurant management first became apparent. Later he worked his way up the ranks at Café Angelica, a trattoria on Long Island, and eventually bought out the owners. Psilakis renamed it Ecco and established himself as a bona fide restaurateur.


Psilakis ran the front-of-house at Ecco for two years until one day when his chef and cook simply didn’t show. With reservations pending that evening, Psilakis stepped into the kitchen. This moment of crisis allowed his innate and indisputable talent as a chef to finally be revealed. One year later, with Psilakis in the kitchen, Ecco received a two-star rating from The New York Times.


The opening of his next venture Onera on Manhattan’s Upper West Side allowed Psilakis to realize a longtime dream and return to the cuisine that first ignited his passion for cooking. The unique upscale Greek-inspired cuisine he served at Onera earned him a reputation as a rising culinary star.


In 2006 he joined restaurateur Donatella Arpaia to open Dona restaurant, where he served First Generation cuisine—food that blended their modern American experiences with the cuisines of their parents’ Mediterranean homelands of Italy and Greece. The restaurant received two stars from The New York Times and was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in 2006. In early 2007 Dona was forced to close due to real estate issues.


Already in the works were plans for the two to bring new additions to the New York dining scene. Psilakis transformed Onera into Kefi, a rustic cozy neighborhood spot serving the Greek food he ate as a child. He moved his upscale Greek cooking from Onera to a larger stage with the opening of Anthos in midtown. Meaning rebirth or blossoming, Anthos features Psilakis’ signature Greek cuisine and has also earned numerous accolades. The restaurant was awarded a coveted Michelin Star, being one of only two Greek restaurants in the world to hold that honor, and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2008.


In December 2008, Psilakis and Arpaia relocated Kefi to a larger space, tripling the size of their beloved taverna. May 2009 brought a partnership with Kor Hotel Management to open Eos, a striking Mediterranean restaurant at the new Viceroy Miami at the IconBrickell urban resort enclave on Biscayne Bay.


In July 2009, Psilakis opened Gus & Gabriel, a gastropub honoring the two most influential men in his life, his late father Gus and four-year-old son Gabriel. Psilakis recently closed Gus & Gabriel and on November 29, 2010, opened his newest concept, FISHTAG, in the same location. Psilakis describes FISHTAG as a wine bar meets seafood restaurant—with a concise menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes complemented by an extensive selection of wines, beers and spirits.


On May 2011, Psilakis opened MP Taverna in Roslyn, NY, a modern interpretation of a traditional Greek tavern. This marked Psilakis’s first restaurant in Long Island since closing Ecco eight years before. This spring, Psilakis will open MP Taverna in Irvington, NY followed by a third location in Astoria, NY.


Psilakis is the Co-Executive Producer and Co-Star of BBC AMERICA’s new original adventure cooking competition series, No Kitchen Required, which premieres in April 2012. The show follows three chefs as they are dropped into the most exotic and remote places on Earth.


Little, Brown published Psilakis’ first cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb, in October 2009. It has since gone on to win countless awards such as the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine.





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.


  1. It is a big space near the river and has had many incarnations. Hopefully it will have staying power. Welcome to the burbs!

  2. It will be nice to have Chef Psilakis join the Greek taverna wave hitting Westchester. We have always enjoyed our visits to Kefi on the West Side of Manhattan…and good luck at that vulnerable location!

  3. Yes, Jen. Dayboat closed while I was out on maternity leave and I didn’t get a chance to report on it. Sorry to have missed giving you that information!

  4. I work at 1 bridge street. Day Boat was pretty good but they kind of mysteriously closed. Looking forward to MP Taverna opening up.

  5. After enjoying Greek come up to The Cupcake Kitchen for dessert. Jane’s ice cream and cupcakes. I am looking forward to checking the new spot out. I wish him well.

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