By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
It’s a new generation running the show at Tavera Opa on Atlantic Avenue.
Founder and longtime owner of Taverna Opa Peter Tsaliamanis has turned the restaurant’s keys over to his daughter and son-in-law.
Sophia and John Theodore are now at the helm and they have already made changes to the restaurant.
The dining room has a new interior with more seating, a private dining room and a fresh fish and seafood display. There are wooden-slat ceilings, whitewashed tables and new wooden bench seating lining the east wall of the restaurant. Grecian urns make up the bulk of decorative items and the floors are a reproduction of Mykonos streets.
Executive Chef John has also made changes to the menu and weekly offerings like Rosè Sunday where the menu features an assortment of classic breakfast favorites some with a Greek twist. Enjoy Magnum bottles of Rosé and Rosè Champagne and eat items including Breakfast Pita stuffed with imported feta cheese and gyro meat, 3-Egg Omelette served with potato hash, Lamb Chops & Eggs and the Banana Foster French Toast.
John calls himself a generational cook, learning much of his culinary creations from his grandmother.
“I started cooking at 5 years old,” he said.
Now, it is all about continuing what his father-in-law started. He said he imports many items from Greece like olive oil from Crete, vinegar from Kalamata and salt.
He recently purchased 70 acres of olive trees where the olive oil will soon come from.
During a recent media dinner, classic offerings were sampled. Dishes were served family style with plenty to take home to enjoy again the next day.
Traditional dips like tzatziki, eggplant dip and spicy feta dip were accompanied by warm pita bread.
Flaming Saganaki cheese was lit up table side, grape leaves were hand rolled and the octopus was tender, which Chef Theodore said is because of wine corks he adds to the boiling process. He said an enzyme in the corks creates a similar end result to how Greeks beat fresh octopus against rocks to soften it.
A highlight of the meat platter were the lamb chops and the seafood platter star was the lobster and large prawns. The seafood platter was a Greek version of paella with a roasted tomato garlic sauce, white wine and orzo.
Traditional lemon potatoes were served as sides with spinach leek rice and grilled asparagus.
In the middle of the meal, a belly dancer wowed the diners with a performance including a flaming sword.
For dessert, baklava was served in several ways with a highlight being a cheesecake that is brought in from a bakery.
Of course the meal ended with a shot similar to Ouzo to help digest the food.
Taverna Opa is located at 270 E Atlantic Ave. Hours of operation are Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – midnight. For reservations call 561-303-3602.