If you're a lover of classics, it's time to revisit the Greek gem Periyali in the Flatiron district. There is lust-for-life cause to celebrate -- though not of the plate-breaking, Zorba-dancing kind -- at this serene taverna celebrating 20 years in business. Owners Nicola Kotsoni and Steve Tzolis (also of Il Cantinori) have bestowed Periyali with gorgeous flower bouquets and a new coat of white paint, among other upgrades. James Henderson is the new chef, and while his name doesn't sound very Greek, his street food compilation of spinach pies, cheese pies and zucchini fritters ($10) tastes authentic. Think octopus is rubbery? Not here. I can't remember more tender tentacles, marinated in red wine and giving off a pleasant trace of charcoal ($14). Charcoal grilling also pervades a robust heap of oyster mushrooms ($14) and pink, meaty lamb chops redolent of rosemary ($29). Another standout appetizer is smoked-trout salad dressed with dill, lemon and olive oil ($12). Appropriately, seafood is impeccable, from an herb-flecked red snapper special to whole branzino. You'd think Greek white wine is the way to go, but the Greek reds are bold and food-friendly ($10-$12 per glass). We were walloped by the dessert ($6-$8) display and tried several, the highlights being cloudlike almond cookies, moist orange cake and creamy Greek yogurt with sour cherries, lovely with a glass of golden, fragrant Samos dessert wine. What's more, our service throughout the evening was sublime. 35 W. 20th St., (212) 463-7890. Julie Besonen
Photo from the New York Times.