A Taste of the Greek Islands: Estiatorio Plaka Brings Fine Dining to Greektown

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Estiatorio Plaka’s dining room (Jillian Diamond)

As its name suggests, the Greektown neighborhood of Baltimore is a hub of Greek-American culture. While the amount of Greek Americans in the city has been slowly dwindling as the population ages and many move to the suburbs, Greektown has seen a surge of interest in recent years due its rich history, revitalization efforts and, most importantly, the amount of restaurants in the area.

Expectedly, the area is home to many Greek restaurants. Estiatorio Plaka is one of the latest in a long line of these, and is unique among them for its focus on fine dining, its built-in bakery and café and its event-hosting services. But the star of the show is its authentic Greek cuisine, with a menu informed by cultural traditions dating back generations.

Estiatorio Plaka first opened its doors in June 2023. Its general managers, John Zoulis and Philip Glytsis, are both Greek, originally hailing from the island of Kasos. Zoulis’ father managed Greek restaurants in New York for many years, and Glytsis immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 2002 and spent 20 years working in the restaurant industry. When the opportunity to open a restaurant in Greektown arose, the two of them took it.

Greek pastries on display at Estiatorio Plaka’s Bakery (Jillian Diamond)

“I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 20 years,” Glytsis says. “We wanted to bring something better to the neighborhood, which is why we opened in this location.”

Zoulis describes Greektown as an up-and-coming neighborhood. The area has garnered a great deal of interest due to the development of new housing there. Over the past several years, the Ryan Homes construction company has built several hundred new homes in Greektown. Last year saw the opening of the Lofts at Yard 56, a luxury housing development built on the former site of an abandoned warehouse.

Estiatorio Plaka’s ultimate objective is to offer traditional Mediterranean cuisine with an upscale twist, focusing on dishes that the average Baltimorean may not have had the chance to try in other restaurants. Staples like gyro platters and mousaka still populate the menu, but the restaurant also offers several regional specialties from Kasos and the other Greek islands.

One of their most popular dishes is Kasiotiko, which is traditionally served at weddings in Kasos. It consists of braised lamb shank, dolmadakia kasou (stuffed grape leaves), rice pilaf and French fries.

Grouper with cauliflower sauce and greens (Jillian Diamond)

“Whenever there was a baptism, wedding or any other type of festival in Kasos, they would serve the same dish,” Glytsis notes.

Estiatorio Plaka also regularly serves up house-made rotisserie chicken, which Zoulis cites as his favorite dish on the menu. The restaurant’s kitchen boasts a specially made rotisserie oven that keeps the chickens spinning before they are integrated into the restaurant’s various chicken dishes.

Of course, seafood is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, so Estiatorio Plaka also has several fish and shellfish dishes on its menu. Zoulis and Glytsis import fish directly from Greece every week, and high-quality catches are often displayed in the restaurant’s seafood chiller before they are cooked.

Estiatorio Plaka’s bar (Jillian Diamond)

Sometimes, guests might have a craving for Greek food but it might be too early in the day to eat a full meal, or they might want dessert. Estiatorio Plaka also has that covered, offering lighter fare in their on-site bakery. Some of their pastry offerings include baklava; sokolatopita, or Greek chocolate cake; and rice pudding made with a special family recipe.

“We try to be unique and to provide something that wasn’t available in the area before we opened,” Zoulis says. “There’s some great chefs out there making similar food, but everyone’s doing the best they can and dealing with their own challenges.”

The restaurant itself has a very distinct interior design as well, primarily utilizing pale, light colors and having a focus on natural lighting. Its aesthetic was meant to bring to mind imagery associated with the Greek islands.

“We wanted to create something nice and cozy that will relax your eyes, rather than intimidating you with dark colors,” Zoulis adds. “Your eyes get relaxed by looking at the white brightness.”

A sign at Estiatorio Plaka’s bar (Jillian Diamond)

This look makes Estiatorio Plaka a popular venue for wedding dinners, corporate meetings and other special events, which they occasionally host in their dining room.

And the food is far from the only thing diners have to look forward to. Estiatorio Plaka regularly hosts live entertainment, including belly dancers and live music on Wednesday evenings.

As they look toward the future, Zoulis and Glytsis want to continue to add to their menu and create the best Greek culinary experience they can.

“We will always try to create something different,” Zoulis says. “It’s nonstop. We don’t want to become stale or have a stale menu. We want to keep the excitement going.”

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