The restaurant business in New York is always tough — but add to that a far west side location, a flood, a pandemic and the closure of the movie house next door — and the chances get slimmer. However, the Livanos family are three generations of survivors and innovators — and this week they will change their Greek American restaurant, Ousia, in Hell’s Kitchen to a new eatery called Hudson West Kitchen + Craft Bar.
“We’ve been through a lot since opening in 2017,” shared Enrico Livanos, who runs the restaurant with his brother, Johnny. “We had the flood in 2018 when a water main broke in an apartment above us. That closed us down for nine weeks. We were getting into our stride with the Landmark movie theater next door — but that closed. The pandemic was terrible. It was terrible for everybody.”
When the brothers took on Ousia, following on the tradition of their father, Nick, and grandfather, John, they created a menu that was “modern American food with the Greek essence coming through.” The decision to change to Hudson West came at Thanksgiving last year. “The idea kicked off around Thanksgiving. We were trying to Greek-ify a Thanksgiving menu and we’re sitting there looking at each other wishing we could serve up mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and pie. This is what our customers want on this day — not necessarily a Greek fisherman’s stew,” said Enrico.
After that the brothers and their team, including Executive Chef Vasiliki Vourliotaki, started to work on what their existing customers and residents of nearby luxury buildings wanted. “We started to reflect on our experiences in Manhattan, looking at restaurants like the Smith and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe. They give their customers fan favorites done right. Approachable cuisine executed with high quality ingredients and with skill that is not your generic plate, but something that has an elevation to it that customers can recognize, feel familiar with, and be comfortable ordering,” said Enrico.
The new Hudson West will be “focused on delivering refined comfort dishes, still with the Mediterranean influence, but also aligned with modern day food trends.”
Enrico shared the new menu with us before the grand opening this Thursday (July 1). “You’ll still have our fan favorites, like our Gyro Sliders, Mussels, Feta-Truffle Fries and the Greek Salad, of course. Then you’re going to see some new things like the Gochujang Kimchi Chicken Wings — following New York’s Korean fried chicken trend but putting our own spin on it,” he explained as we salivated! “The sandwich section is playful. We’re doing a Salmon Reuben — I’m sure a lot of folks have never had that. And we’re excited to deliver our French Dip Sandwich — its a French baguette with gruyere, onions, Dijon and a just amazing au jus dip, which is a super flavorful steak reduction.”
There’s still a wide range of Greek wines available, but the cocktail menu has expanded with a special Old Fashioned selection added with four variations and a choice of 4 spirits — Bourbon, Rye, Aged Rum and Reposado Tequila. However, their signature cocktail, Far West Side — made from Stray Dog Wild Gin, Mastiha, lemon, cucumber and mint — still tops the list.
Hudson West Kitchen and Craft Bar is located at 629 W57th St (between 11/12th Avenue), underneath VIA. hudsonwestnyc.com