First Look: Estiatorio Volos, contemporary Greek cuisine in the financial district
Andreas Antoniou spent many of his formative years working in restaurants. Such is bound to happen when one’s father owns Toronto stalwarts like Anthony’s, Little Anthony’s and Mediterra. Now, all grown up — having spent a good chunk of time in the corporate world, dining out at some of the best restaurants in North America — he’s transformed his father’s Mediterra into his own Estiatorio Volos, a new high-end Greek restaurant in the financial district.
The ambitious 27-year-old has his sights set high: he’s hoping to rub shoulders with nearby Nota Bene as a top destination for suits and theatergoers in the city.
The concept: Most Greek restaurants play up Greek clichés, Antoniou says, but don’t expect souvlaki, Corinthian columns or statues of Greek gods here (exception: the restaurant’s logo is a depiction of Chiron, the wisest centaur in all the land). Volos is an approachable high-end restaurant that “just happens to serve Greek food.” The décor — done with the help of designer Marc Kyriacou (The Spoke Club, Brant House) — is Mediterranean-inspired, with lots of wood, stone and natural light. The aim is for a real Greek restaurant that one would find in Athens.
The hood: The financial district, at Richmond and York, right by Little Anthony’s and The Keg.
The eats: Antoniou has kept Mediterra’s veteran chef, Reza Paria, on board, but he’s consulted with Greek culinary expert Diane Kochilas on the new ingredient-driven menu. Expect Greek items with Canadian twists, and vice versa. A horiatiki salad (otherwise known as Greek salad, $13) contains the obligatory feta cheese and kalmata olives, but there’s no Romaine lettuce, and it’s rife with three kinds of tomatoes from Ontario: flavorinos (for acidity), cherry heirlooms (for texture and colour) and clusters (for sweetness).
As a main, the warm seafood salad ($23) features grilled halibut, scallop and wild pacific salmon, along with sautéed jumbo prawns (all shellfish are kept off the grill due to allergy concerns); vegetation comes in the form of red and white Mediterranean-style quinoa, raisins and kalmata olives tossed with wild arugula.
Wine selection currently highlights 18 Greek wines, but Antoniou suggests giving them a chance before scoffing. A new generation of Greek winemakers is putting out stuff that’s on par with the best international wines, he says.
Warm seafood salad (top), sesame crusted feta with a honey-orange syrup ($13, below)
The owner’s favourite: It may be a bit much to ask Antoniou to pare the menu down to one dish, seeing as how he already narrowed it down to 18 dishes from around 90. Still, he has a bit of an affinity for the spetzofai ($13), having eaten it growing up. It’s a signature dish from Volos, the Greek port town where his father was born (and, incidentally, the inspiration for the restaurant’s namesake). A kind of Greek goulash, it’s made with spicy Ontario lamb sausage — made specifically for the restaurant by Vince Gasparro’s Meat Market on Bloor Street — along with sautéed peppers, oregano and tomato sauce.
Coming soon: A selection of Greek sharing plates, or mezedes ($5-$15), for those hanging out at the bar, and a continually expanding menu.
Estiatorio Volos, 133 Richmond St. W., 416-861-1211