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Mediterranean on the East Coast

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Opening just one restaurant takes savvy planning. So credit brothers Nick and Pete Pashalis and Pete’s brother-in-law, John Lois, for upping the ante by introduc­ing Estia Greek Taverna in Radnor while also unveiling a similar eatery in Marlton, N.J. Both are excellent offshoots of their like-named Center City elder, which has thrived along Locust Street since 2005.

Situated in a rather unglamorous stripmall adjacent to the Radnor Hotel, the Greek Isles-inspired interior dining areas offer 180 seats amid whitewashed stone arches, yards of solid Jerusalem lime-stone floor tiles, reclaimed blond cedar, and bamboo ceilings. One room has amber backlit recesses with earthen pottery and glassblown vessels. The other centers around a cushioned banquette and a wine rack displaying scores of bottles.

Greek Salad

Estia’s classic Greek Salad

Seafood

Seafood on ice

Pete’s son, Gus, is the GM of both new tavernas. His influence in Radnor is evident in both the menu knowledge and vested interest he’s instilled in his staff. They heartily recommend personal favorites and are always eager to recite ingredients and preparations. You get the feeling they might not even mind doing the cooking themselves.

But Estia already has executive chef Oscar Chavez, whose kitchen draws from the same surf-and-turf canon as the down­town original, with equally rewarding—and slightly less expensive—results.

Zucchini

Slices of Zucchini and Eggplant

My meal began with three feta-stuffed meatballs ($10) in a hot cast-iron skillet, pooled with a tangy-sweet tomato sauce. The red-wine-mari­nated, charcoal-grilled octopus—with red onion, roasted peppers and capers—was tender and copious. The accompanying ladolemono sauce (a lemon-and-olive-oil emulsion), however, might be better served on the side. Its citrusy creaminess overwhelmed the delicate flavors of an otherwise stellar dish.

Dessert

Ekmek Kataifi

Our grilled lavraki was snatched right from the selection of fresh fish and other seafood waiting on ice near the open kitchen. A light sea bass shipped directly from Greece, it was served whole and de-boned, with a side of garlicky wild greens. On the other end of the spec­trum, a flavorful Black Angus N.Y. strip came topped with mushroom gravy and sautéed mixed veggies.

For dessert, we traded luscious bites of a cinnamony, lemony walnut cake called karidopita and a honey-kissed baklava with nutty orange stuffing—both served with vanilla gelato. We washed it all down with a demitasse of thick Greek coffee.

Restaurant

Restaurant

THE SKINNY: Estia is the high-quality Greek restaurant Main Line foodies have been waiting for. It offers two comfortable dining rooms, a relaxing bar and lounge (the paper-thin, lightly fried zucchini-and-eggplant chips may be the perfect bar snack), outdoor seating, and a fantastic weekend brunch. Oh, and did we men­tion that the Aegean Restaurant Group also operates Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria just a few steps away?

Philly, Marlton and now Radnor—this Greek empire marches on. 

Details: ESTIA GREEK TAVERNA 222 N. Radnor Chester Road, Radnor, (484) 581-7124, www.estiataverna.com cuisine: Contemporary Greek with an emphasis on fresh fish. cost: Dinner: appetizers $5-$12, entrées $16-$36. Lunch: $12-$34, three-course business $19. Brunch: $5-$34. attire: Stylishly casual. atmosphere: Two ambient spaces, plus a lounge and bar. hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 4-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Brunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. extras: A small but serviceable selection of Greek wines. 

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