West Side fans of Greek food and wine will have plenty to smile about when the Livanos family reopens Midtown go-to Molyvos beneath Manhattan Plaza on Friday.

Molyvos owner Nick Livanos at its new Manhattan Plaza location
Molyvos owner Nick Livanos at the new Manhattan Plaza location, which will soft open on Friday. Photo: Naty Caez

While they are “awaiting the final OK” from ConEd to get the gas turned on, the longtime family-owned eatery is readying itself for service with a soft-opening menu that includes fan favorites like ouzo-cured Atlantic salmon, spanakopita, stuffed peppers and moussaka, said owner Nick Livanos. He is operating the eatery with sons John and Enrico, who previously headed up Hell’s Kitchen’s Hudson West on W57th Street. 

“We’ve been fully staffed for a while now, and we’ve kept our staff working [during construction],” said Nick, adding that the team was more than ready to welcome customers into their new space, a cozy corner spot on W43rd Street and 9th Avenue at the ground floor of Manhattan Plaza that was formerly occupied by seafood restaurant Esca.

Molyvos’ new Manhattan Plaza location was almost ready to open when W42ST visited although outdoor dining will be added after Friday’s soft-launch. Photo: Naty Caez

After Molyvos’ first restaurant near to Carnegie Hall was forced to close during the COVID-19 shutdown, Nick discovered the empty space while walking the blocks of Hell’s Kitchen in the early days of the pandemic. He chose the spot not only for its attractive location amid the hustle and bustle of Hell’s Kitchen and its proximity to the Theater District, but also for its convivial community ambience.

In the weeks leading up to their opening, Nick said, “All I need to do is stand in front of the restaurant and — no exaggeration —person after person will stop and talk to me to ask,  ‘When are you opening? We’re so excited! We’re so happy you’re here!’ I’ve never in my life experienced that neighborly of a welcome.”

“Being in Midtown [where the original Molyvos and another Livanos property, Oceana resides], it’s not quite the same. Here it’s very different — we truly feel like we’re part of the neighborhood,” he added.

His son, Enrico, told W42ST that as the family prepared to close the doors on Hudson West, they were happy to be able to keep roots in the area. “My family and I love Hell’s Kitchen — we love the Hell’s Kitchen community,” said Enrico, who lives in the neighborhood. “It’s such a true New York eating destination and it’s exciting for us to join that landscape and contribute what we can to it.” 

Inside Molyvos, where the Livanos family have gone for a modern look and a chance to showcase their huge collection of Greek wines. Photo: Naty Caez

After a long period of construction, Molyvos’ new home boasts an elegant new design, crafted to welcome diners into the space named after Nick’s father’s hometown in Lesvos, Greece. One key feature is the eatery’s wine display, built to showcase the restaurant’s extensive beverage program. “We have about 750 wines — possibly the largest Greek wine list in the world,” said Nick. He is operating the eatery with longtime partner Kamal Kouiri (who is the managing partner and wine director) along with his sons John and Enrico, who previously headed up Hell’s Kitchen’s Hudson West on W57th Street.

One element still in the works? “The outdoor space is almost complete, even though at this point we’re going to miss the season,” said Nick. The team is finishing construction on a large ceramic wall that mimics the interior dining area, as well as a large ornamental metal olive tree to complete the space. “We’re onto the last details, but I think it’s going to be the most inviting outdoor space in New York,” added Nick. 

Could this be the world’s biggest Greek wine list? Molyvos is fully stocked with 750 different wines from Nick Livanos’ home country. Photo: Naty Caez
Nick Livanos (right) and son John (left) say they are going back to their roots. John’s brother Enrico told W42ST the family “love Hell’s Kitchen” and are delighted to open in it. Photo: Naty Caez

But even as they complete the finishing touches on the W43rd Street location, Nick, John and Enrico were excited to invite patrons into a space that resembled the earliest days of the Livanos family restaurants. “It’s nice, it’s kind of like we’re returning to our roots,” said Nick. “We started small and eventually had big restaurants, and now, we’re back to small again and I’m so happy about it.” 

Molyvos soft opens for dinner from 5-11pm on Friday October 28. 

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  1. Welcome!!! So happy you are here. Can’t wait to eat there and bring my friends and family!!!!!

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