By Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Special to the Hellenic News of America
Celebrating a vibrant revival, the former home of Little Pete’s diner in Center City is set to become a hub of Mediterranean island-inspired culinary experiences. Nestled at the corner of 17th and Chancellor, this space, now part of the Hyatt Centric hotel’s ground floor, will embrace its new identity as ‘Almyra’ in early December. Almyra is a modern Greek restaurant brought to life by the seasoned team behind Estia.
Named after the goddess of the sea breeze, Almyra offers a fresh perspective on their Greek heritage’s cuisine. In contrast to their flagship Locust Street location, Almyra presents a lighter and airier approach with a more accessible price point, catering to a younger crowd. While Estia Locust feels like stepping into a traditional Greek home in the village, Almyra invites you to experience the Aegean Sea’s island vibes.
The restaurant’s 7,000-square-foot space is adorned with a light, earth-toned palette and large windows, providing a welcoming ambiance. An elaborate sound system is in place to fill the atmosphere with European dance music and ‘Mykonos vibes’ during late-night hours.
What truly sets Almyra apart is its adventurous take on traditional Greek cuisine. Their menu features inventive dishes like tirokafteri, a whipped feta with parmesan, jalapeno, and lemon, and patzaria, which combines beets, lemon, labneh, and garlic. The dakos-style Greek village salad comes topped with feta mousse, while mezze selections include charred octopus and kadaifi-covered shrimp.
Almyra’s menu also ventures into fusion territory, combining Greek and Asian flavors. Try the tuna and avocado-topped crispy rice or Greco rolls, which offer salmon wrapped in grape leaves sushi-style. Tiropita wontons are another unique option, filled with feta, cream, and Greek hot honey.
For main courses, choose from options like whole grilled sea bass with ladolemono dressing, or roasted tomato and feta lobster pasta. If you prefer meat dishes, the slow-braised beef short ribs with a side of feta mash or the herb-marinated Australian lamb chops with fried potatoes are sure to satisfy. Skewer selections include chicken, filet mignon, or shrimp, with the latter marinated in metaxa, a strong Greek spirit.
Almyra’s bar offers a selection of Hellenic libations, including ouzo, mastiha, and rakomelo, which are also incorporated into their specialty cocktails. The Petalouda combines mastiha with vodka, elderflower, and butterfly pea tea, while the Anthos mixes gin with grapes, rosemary, and Lillet. The Zesto is a smoky-sweet blend of chipotle tequila, mezcal, pineapple, and lime. Cocktails are priced between $14 and $16.
The 45-seat marble bar sits between the entrance and a striking wall-sized art piece made from driftwood collected and painted by a friend in the Pashalis family’s hometown of Nafpaktos. The dining area offers seating for 200 across deep, half-circle banquettes and smaller tables. Towards the rear, a semi-enclosed separate dining space accommodates thirty guests, while outdoor seating plans are still in progress.
The restaurant showcases large amphorae and pithoi (traditional Greek storage vessels), some over a century old, adding a museum-like ambiance. These antique pieces underwent a historic commission review before being displayed.
As Almyra’s opening day approaches, the team is fine-tuning details, from staff training to menu printing. With its promising menu and inviting ambiance, Almyra is poised to become a vibrant addition to Philadelphia’s dining scene. Almyra is scheduled to open its doors in early December.