Greek Revival

Eastern cuisine impresses at Upper Cape’s newest restaurant

By Colby Radomski

350A0525When seasoned restaurant owners Nick and Katherine Markantonis decided to open Estia, they knew they wanted to stray from the typical Cape Cod fare.

Embracing their Greek roots and with a desire to keep things simple and fresh, the couple has introduced some diversity to the Upper Cape’s dining scene. Located in Mashpee Commons, Estia serves authentic and traditional Greek dishes with a modern twist.

Guests will hardly recognize the space (formerly The Tea Shoppe) tucked in between shops along Steeple Street, which was completely gutted and given a floor-to-ceiling makeover. While small in scale, the restaurant’s open-concept design capitalizes on every available inch of space. Upon entering, eyes are immediately drawn to the restaurant’s “interactive” focal feature: a large brick pizza oven and prep kitchen. Combining raw design elements, like clapboard walls and industrial-style ceilings, with more contemporary-style pieces, the eatery looks rustic, yet chic. The couple, who also owns Stelio’s Pizza in Popponesset Marketplace, made a point to design their restaurant to be both upscale and casual. They even incorporated more personal elements, including Greek flag blue tiles around the bar area, which stands to the left of the front door.

On a recent trip to the new eatery, I was treated to a feast. I chose a seat at the granite-topped bar and eagerly awaited my food. There are several table options , including large, round and long high-top tables that are a perfect for larger parties who want to eat family style. As I took in the beauty of the restaurant, my eyes settled again on the pizza oven, which, I learned, has a secret. Unlike most pizza ovens, this one cooks with coal, not wood.

“We wanted to break out and be different,” says Nick. “The market for pizza [on Cape] is saturated—this method is just very unique. We’re actually only one of five restaurants in the state that has a coal-fired pizza oven.”

Coal-fired pizza was preferred by Italian immigrants beginning in the 1920s; one of them, Frank Pepe, most famously used this method to create what is now known as Neapolitan-style pizza. While the Markantonises aren’t officially certified in making Neapolitan pizza (yes, you have to be certified to call your pizza “Neapolitan”), they’re creating pizza that’s pretty darn close to the real deal.

“Coal-fired pizza cooks at close to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Katherine.

“It cooks fast—in two to three minutes—versus traditional pizza, and what you get is a crispy, well-done crust that brings out the flavors of the pizza,” adds Nick.

In addition to pizza, Estia offers traditional Greek dishes, including kabobs, gyros, fresh seafood, specialty appetizers and salads. Most of the dishes are sacred, generations-old family recipes, made completely from scratch and with specialty ingredients sourced from, you guessed it, Greece.

For my first dish, I sampled one of the Markantonises favorite dishes: pan-seared swordfish. Perfectly caramelized on both sides, the meaty fish was tender, juicy and flavorful. Topped with a basil and tomato salad, a squeeze of lemon juice, and served over a bed of broccolini, it was a blissfully balanced dish that was truly the highlight of my trip. Of course, I also indulged in a slice (or three) of margherita pizza, made with homemade sauce and hearty mozzarella. I also tasted some dessert items, including baklava (my favorite) and kataifi—a sweet ending to my delicious meal. In addition solid options, the restaurant has a well-established cocktail menu that features Greek wines and traditional libations for guests to sip on while listening to the sounds of Greek music played by local acts.

With a menu packed with delicious Greek favorites and a newly revamped space, Estia is proving to be a popular, and out-of-the-ordinary dining option on the Cape.

Estia
26 Steeple St.,Mashpee
508-539-4700
www.estiacapecod.com

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