FLATIRON — This former Greek restaurant is embarking on a new odyssey — as a steakhouse.
Parea in the Flatiron District has added a raw bar and prime steaks to its Greek-inspired offerings in the hopes of driving new traffic to the eatery.
Before Parea Bistro became Parea Prime, the East 20th Street restaurant was more casual and focused on traditional Greek cuisine, said general manager Jean Christophe Villard.
But that concept wasn’t bringing in much business.
“Now it’s really fine dining,” Villard said. “If it was only Greek food, people might want to go somewhere else. The old simple steak and potatoes works for everyone.”
Parea, located at 36 E. 20th St., began renovating its space in August 2011 and launched the revamped restaurant for the first time on Feb. 6.
Renovation of the space included an extension of the bar to include a raw bar, new décor and a new steak menu.
For customers who still want a taste of Parea's Greek cuisine, old favorites like egg-lemon soup and sea bass plaki aren’t going anywhere. But the restaurant's new love is steak, Villard said.
“The menu is more exciting now,” said Ioannis Benetos, 26-year-old executive chef of Parea. “Before it was a little boring. It didn’t have as many options.”
Parea sources its prime meats from beloved butcher Pat LaFrieda, Benetos said, and the menu includes a variety ranging from New York strip and short ribs to lamb chops and burgers.
“There are a lot of steakhouses in Midtown and the Financial District, and we are at the halfway point,” Villard explained. “Eighty-five percent of customers who push through the door know what they want before they sit down. We don’t want to redirect them, and everyone loves steak."
In addition to the new steak menu, the restaurant has expanded its wine list to include 200 different options. Most of the wines come from America, with the majority cabernets because they go best with red meat, Villard noted.
At the new raw bar, diners can see their oysters being shucked right in front of them, he added.
To promote the new seafood bar, Parea is featuring a happy hour special of six oysters for $6 on weekdays.
Before the renovation, the décor at Parea appeared rustic with lighter-colored wood and wine barrels strewn about the dining room, Benetos said. Now, the wood floors sport a darker finish and the décor is more contemporary.
Parea Prime is owned by Peter Pappas and Peter, George and Jimmy Pantelidis, the latter three of whom own a real estate company called Pan-Brothers Associates Real Estate Services, managing commercial space.
“[The owners] always loved restaurants, but the restaurant wasn’t where they wanted it to be," Villard said, "so they wanted to take it in a different direction."