There are lots of songs about Maria — like the ones from “The Sound of Music” and “West Side Story” — so consider this restaurant review another paean to a different Maria, this one from Bayside.
Maria’s Seafood, a Greek fusion restaurant at 38-11 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, is named after the matriarch of the family-run restaurant, Maria Petridis, and she has quite a story to tell. Joining her in the business, which opened almost a year ago, are her husband, Gary, and son, Tommy.
Gary Petridis has been in the restaurant business all his life and after being a stay-at-home mother for 24 years, Maria Petridis told her husband she was bored and he’d better find something for her to do. Thus was born Maria’s, where she makes the sauces and desserts and her husband and son take care of the rest.
Seafood is king here and you will find delicious and unusual takes on delicacies from the sea. Don’t miss the broiled oysters with fresh spinach topped with Parmesan cheese and Maria’s special light cream sauce. Absolutely delicious.
The traditional taramas (fish eggs) and eggplant spreads were great, as was something new: spicy peppers cooked on charcoal and mixed with feta cheese.
If your taste buds crave the spicy, there’s also a sort of Greek fondue, combining tomatoes and hot peppers with melted cheeses and served with fresh pita bread.
You could make a meal out of the grilled portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and feta cheese, as well as the succulent chicken pieces wrapped in bacon and cooked on charcoal.
For entrees, we tried the Chilean sea bass filet covered in a beurre blanc sauce, and shrimp in a tomato and feta sauce served over rice. Although Maria’s specializes in seafood, don’t overlook the meats, many of which are slow-cooked on a rotisserie
I’m going back for the boneless short rib beef chunks in a tomato stew served over rice. Very comforting and delicious. The marinated pork shoulder is also a standout.
On the weekends, Maria’s roasts whole baby lamb on the rotisserie for seven hours. It’s so popular that regulars call ahead of time to reserve their portion.
For dessert there was a complimentary baked apple that was tasty and just the right size. We also tried Maria’s poached pear in wine, which was fabulous, and her special lemon pie.
“I think lemon goes so well with Greek food that I decided to come up with a pie recipe,” Petridis said. “It took me awhile to arrive at the right recipe and people seem to enjoy it very much.”
Some customers buy a whole pie; it’s that good. If you like key lime pie, you will love this tangy yet sweet dessert.
The restaurant’s namesake says she’s made many friends since Maria’s opened. And it’s no surprise. She’s outgoing and is a good example of the American dream.
Petridis, who grew up in Northern Greece, came with her husband to the United States 27 years ago. She spoke no English and settled in Astoria with her in-laws, far from her rural roots.
She learned the language, became a mother, moved to Flushing and now enjoys cooking delicacies from her homeland for the public.
As a nod to Petridis’ roots, the restaurant features many enlarged photos of her family’s life in Greece. It’s a warm touch that adds to the friendly vibe.
The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week for lunch and dinner. For free delivery or reservations, call (718) 279-1606.
You’ll sing the praise of Maria’s after a meal there too.