Variations on a Theme: Mediterranean
With a parade of Mediterranean dishes descending on Boston, it’s suddenly chic to eat Greek.
Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar
It takes culinary confidence to invite a less-experienced chef into your kitchen to overhaul the menu. Last fall, Michael Schlow did just that, tapping Pelekasis pop-up creator Brendan Pelley to put a fresh spin on his modern Greek taverna in Park Square. The result? Spot-on collaborations such as lamb shoulder (1), slow-roasted until fall-apart tender, pressed into a terrine, and cooked confit-style; and new Pelley creations including dynamic crudités with pistachio skordalia spread (2). Featuring just-picked seasonal vegetables such as radishes and purple cauliflower, it’s playfully categorized as a “raw bar” selection.
79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008, dorettaboston.com.
He may hail from Colombia, but chef Jesus Preciado cooks like a Mykonos native. “It’s all about clean, uncomplicated food,” he says. Working with imported ingredients and Greek co-owner George Axiotis’s recipes, Preciado turns out straightforward, island-y favorites such as braised then grilled octopus (3) kissed with olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Walk into this dimly lit South End boîte, and you’ll also find kolokithaki (4)—lightly battered fried zucchini rounds served with garlicky tzatziki—on almost every table.
315 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-356-1100, kavaneotaverna.com.
Committee and Gre.Co
Demetri Tsolakis grew up slinging gyros at his parents’ Springfield-area Greek fast-food restaurants. Now he’s on a mission to bring an upgraded version of his family’s fare to Boston. At Committee, where he’s a partner, that translates into shareable plates like this classic whole roasted branzino (5). Chef de cuisine Theo Tsilipanos, a L’Espalier alum from central Greece, stuffs the flaky Mediterranean sea bass with lemon slices and oregano before throwing it on the charbroiler. Over at Tsolakis’s new fast-casual spot, Gre.Co, pillowy loukoumades (6)—a.k.a. Greek doughnuts—drizzled with honey have quickly gained a following.
In 2014, when chef Jody Adams and partners Eric Papachristos and Jonathan Mendez came up with the idea for their fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, “nobody was talking about Greek food,” she says. Now, as locals continue to queue up for their pork pitas and lamb plates, the team has opened a second location, in Cambridge, with more expansion plans in the works. Adams rounds out her mostly savory menu with a few not-to-be-overlooked sweets, including light, crunchy baklava crisps (7), custardy lemon-curd-topped yogurt (8), and the Greek iced-coffee drink known as a frappé (9). The surprising secret behind the bold, yet frothy beverage? Instant coffee.
4 Kilmarnock St., Boston, 617-266-0001; 181 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-5152; salonikigreek.com.