Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mourayo: A Review

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Courtesy of the Mourayo website

“Mourayo” is a Greek word meaning safe harbor. The name seems particularly apropos as I would like to moor my ship . . . er . . . behind . . . to this place for a long stay. The restaurant is located just north of Dupont Circle, but you could just as soon be in Crete or Santorini!
Courtesy of the Mourayo website
DC has had such a restaurant revolution in the last few years, but Mourayo has actually been around since 2004. I’ve walked past this place literally hundreds of times, but it took an out-of-town visitor to get me in the door. All I can say is I am ashamed that it took me eight years to dine at this wonderful restaurant!


The menu is traditional; it features a variety of different fish and lamb entrees as well as some Greek classics like Mousaka. What set Mourayo apart from other Greek restaurants was the preparation. They put a unique and delicious spin on all of the dishes.

Courtesy of Splash Magazine
To start, we had the shrimp saganaki. Traditionally saganaki is a thick slice of sheep’s milk cheese like kasseri or kefalotyri that is heated in a pan until it is golden brown and crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. It is sometimes served with pita bread. At Mourayo, the cheese was cut into smaller pieces and mixed with shrimp - then sauteed in a savory tomato sauce. The pita bread was still warm out of the oven – perfect for soaking up the extra sauce!

For my entrée, I had black ravioli stuffed with shrimp. I know what you are thinking: who gets pasta at a Greek restaurant? I have to admit that I am a total sucker for black pasta. The pasta gets its black coloring from squid ink - and there is something about the mysterious dark color that draws me in. I literally order it anytime it’s on the menu! The black ravioli not only met, but exceeded my expectations. It was cooked al dente and served in a savory tomato sauce. To add a Greek touch - it was topped with feta cheese.

My friend had the branzino fillet, which the chef cooked perfectly. Branzino (sea bass) is a light white flaky fish. The filet was served in a a light broth with vegetables like artichokes and carrots. The sauce was delicious and totally unique. It neither overpowered the fish, nor bored you with bland flavors. It was the perfect compliment.

The prices at Mourayo were not inexpensive, but the low-priced bottles of Greek wine compensated for the higher priced entrées. There were plenty of bottles of wine in the $30-$40 range, which for DC is very reasonable.

The nicest thing about Mourayo was the atmosphere. Both the waiters and the hosts were incredibly attentive. They made great wine and food suggestions and seemed genuinely pleased that we enjoyed our food. Unlike some of the newer DC restaurants, this was not a ‘sceney’ place. It wasn’t hard to get a reservation, and the restaurant itself was quietly beautiful. Needless to say, it will not be another eight years before I dine here again!

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