Foodservice Friday: Mamakas

Friday, January 29, 2016

After writing about the wonderful Greek thyme honey I baked with last week, there was only one way to follow it up, and that was to write about the best Greek restaurant - by a wide margin - that I've ever visited.

True story: for years, I've generally avoided Greek restaurants. I always found the food a bit greasy, and assumed that's just what Greek cooking was like.

Apparently I've just been going to the wrong restaurants. Because after one visit to Mamakas, I'll never, ever think that way again.


I loved every single thing I ate here. The halloumi with clementines and pistachios was exquisite (possibly my favourite dish) - the flavours worked perfectly together. I could have made a meal of just this. But if I'd done that, I would have missed out on the most beautiful spanakopita I've ever seen, and the perfectly grilled lamb chops with hand cut potatoes and feta. And if you're lucky enough to eat there, don't even think about passing up the walnut cake with candied carrots and cinnamon ice cream. I probably could have made a meal of that, too.


As I like to do in my foodservice posts, I reached out to the owner, and wasn't disappointed. Not only did I hear back from Thanos Tripi immediately, he asked me to call him so he'd be sure to give me the answers I was looking for.

Seriously - he's the owner of a wildly popular new restaurant, and he wants to make sure I get all the information I need for my blog. How nice is that?

In our conversation, he told me he felt Greek food wasn't properly represented in Toronto, and he wanted to change that. He hoped to take traditional Greek recipes and update them without losing their integrity. When I asked about his favourite food memories, he mentioned olive oil French-fried potatoes, which are clearly represented in the restaurant's hand-cut potatoes (tiganites patates).

Tripi then passed the phone to his head chef, Chris Kalisperas, to answer any other questions I might have. Kalisperas reiterated the restaurant's goal of modernizing the traditional, and of using only the best ingredients with the most superior presentation. (Hence the gorgeous spanakopita.) His most important influences were a chef he worked for in Cyprus, and Thomas Keller.

The generosity of their time was truly matched by the generosity of the food - and by some of the friendliest, most helpful service I've ever had in a restaurant.

Greek myths are full of stories involving food. A golden apple was the prize in a contest to choose the most beautiful goddess. Hades tricked Persephone with a handful of pomegranate seeds. And Athena gifted the city of Athens with an olive tree. Our dinner at Mamakas was equally legendary, and equally worthy of the gods.

Mamakas Taverna
80 Ossington
Toronto ON
416-519-5996
www.mamakas.ca

(All opinions are my own, and I received no compensation for this post.)




17 comments:

Bonnie said...

Beth, it sounds wonderful. I love spanakopita... what a unique presentation. Have a wonderful weekend.

Monica said...

What a lovely review for this restaurant and it's really wonderful the owner and chef care and took the time to talk to you. I think their passion translates into the food, surely.

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Wow! This restaurant sounds amazing and I love how involved / engaged the owner and chef were in answering your questions. The food all looks exquisite, and I'm thrilled it changed your mind about Greek food restaurants, too!

Jemi Fraser said...

Positively drooling right now!!! Looks/sounds scrumptious!

Simones Kitchen said...

O wow that does look like a fabulous restaurant! I love Greek food, but also here in the Netherlands, the majority of Greek restaurants don't really do the cuisine justice. We've been to Greece a couple of times and again it happens a lot that there is only tourist food to be found. But this looks very different and makes me want to go and visit!

Angie Schneider said...

They look scrumptious and beautiful presentation too! I would love to visit the restaurant too.

Marcelle @ A Little Fish in the Kitchen said...

What beautiful food! I'm so hungry now. :) Greek food is pretty much represented by gyro's and salads here and I would love to try something as gorgeous as these dishes. Maybe one day the hubs and I will make up that way! Nice to hear the owner and his staff were so accomodating. Great post, Beth!

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Hi Beth, sounds like an amazing restaurant and a very generous owner and chef, what a great experience!

Gloria Baker said...

What delicious and lovely look all these Beth!!

That Girl said...

We need more/better Greek recipes near me!

handmade by amalia said...

This restaurant sounds wonderful, Beth. I love Greek food, especially the stuffed vegetables.
Amalia
xo

Laura Dembowski said...

Wow does this look like a great restaurant!! The cheese and cake in particular are calling my name!

Beth said...

Mine, too, Laura. It's got me looking for a recipe for walnut cake, in an attempt to recreate it at home!

I Wilkerson said...

When I was growing up we had a local Greek restaurant that was actually fine dining. Very different from what we think of today but gave me an early good impression of Greek food. In fact the first olive oil I ever bought was Greek (to make a Greek salad).

Tricia Buice said...

We used to love a small love restaurant where the owner came out and talked to us and we even got her to to sit down and eat with us once. She closed and we are lost without our favorite Korean. What a great review!

Claudia said...

Oh that does look good! The Halloumi sounds incredible. I have a wonderful Greek cookbook - which I never use. For no reason - you are reminding me to visit it.

That Girl said...

Stuffed peppers are such a versatile meal!

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