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Kouzina: Charming Greek Taverna in Midtown

Greek cuisine is amazing when done right. If you've been to the Greek islands, you know it's all about using fresh, local ingredients -- like seafood taken from the Mediterranean, fresh-pressed olive oil, and local produce -- and making simple food beautiful.

Unfortunately, many Greek restaurants in the United States are more like Dancing Zorba's from My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- noisy affairs filled with heavy platters of feta-infused pastas and lamb on pita.

Kouzina, which opened last March in the former Tapas y Tintos Midtown space, is designed after a traditional Greek taverna, with a small inside dining area filled with pottery and white furnishings. A larger outside area is strung with white lights and candles. There is no plate-throwing, and waiters do not break out in dance (thankfully). Instead, on a Saturday evening, we found smartly dressed people enjoying a cocktail at the outside bar, while others sat for dinner.

Co-owner George Yiannikakis flies in most products directly from Greece, including traditional cheese, seafood, spices, yogurt, olives, and oil, allowing for flavor that's as authentic as possible. There's also a good selection of Greek wines, and Yiannikakis is planning to host Greek musicians and entertainers Wednesday evenings. Let's hope they won't break plates.

Spinach salad ($12) with a lemon vinaigrette and fresh cheese.

Saganaki ($9), fried Vlahotyri cheese doused in Greek brandi and set aflame.

Shrimp, marinated in ouzo, is complemented nicely by the fennel and green olives in the dish ($13).

Mussels steamed in white wine are served with zucchini ($12).

Adorable interior, perfect for a rainy day.

Brush up on your Greek.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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