RESTAURANT NAME: To Thalassaki

CITY, COUNTRY: Tinos Island, Cyclades, Greece

CUISINE: Captivating Greek tavern

BEST FOR: Anything. Basically, if you’re within a three-hour boat ride of the island, go.

RECOMMENDED DAY AND TIME TO VISIT: Late lunch or late dinner. Tip: To Thalassaki closes from October to March, call before if you’re not sure. Tip 2: Reach by boat or car.

AVERAGE PRICE PER P/MEAL: Depends on how you order. Starters are between €4.50 and €12; pasta for two with seafood will set you back around €22; lobster per kilo is €85, and fresh fish, price subject to size and type, runs from €35 to €70.

ATMOSPHERE: To Thalassaki is set on a small promenade in a quaint bay on Tinos’ south flank. Make sure to ask for one of the hand-painted tables at the water’s edge. The restaurant sources most of its ingredients from the island, using produce, seafood and meat in both long-forgotten and reinvented recipes. All this adds to the sense that the people choreographing your meal have put thought into the food you’re eating, the wine you’re drinking and the table at which you’re sitting.

DECOR: A simple island restaurant with playful twists, such as a fish-shaped menu and custom-made wine buckets.

STAFF SERVICE IN THREE WORDS: Honest, knowledgeable and enthusiastic

AVERAGE WAITING TIME FOR MEAL: You’re on a Greek island, does it matter? If it does, 10 minutes for the first dishes.

BEST STARTERS: Go with a large group so you can try more. The dish of mixed legumes, cod and hummus was a different take on the traditional Greek recipe for cooking the dried fish. Try the greens with feta, tomato juice and garlic, as well as fresh string beans with manouri cheese. Do not miss the taramosalata (fish roe salad), which comes in a deep purple hue, thanks to cuttlefish ink. The restaurant makes their own cheese with a special ageing method that includes sun and rock-pressing – try as many as you like. The potatoes are from the island, and are cooked in olive oil, producing hand-cut french fries that just might be the best you’ve ever had.

BEST MAINS: It depends how much money you want to fork out. You can fill up on starters alone, but the spaghetti with shrimp or lobster was exceptional, and the cuttlefish risotto, that arrived jetblack and shiny with plenty of ink, attracted stares from all diners present. The taste did not disappoint, either. Last, have you ever had fried octopus? This is your chance.

BEST DESSERTS: Meringues and vanilla ice cream were lovely and came in the shape of soft roses, but the kaimaki ice cream with rose loukoumi (aka Turkish delight) had the entire table digging their spoons in for one more sensational bite.

WHAT DOES THE DRINK MENU OFFER: A Greek wine list, with a fair share of local options if you want to keep your drinking on the island. The sweet (and complimentary) dessert wine is sure to put a smile on your face.

DO YOU NEED TO BOOK A TABLE: No, but better safe than sorry.

WHO GOES THERE? People who live on the island, Greeks in Tinos on vacation, a very small handful of tourists.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: For 15 years, Antonia Zarpa and her husband have served food to which the average Greek diner may have been unaccustomed. I imagine that some traditionalists of Mediterranean cuisine were bewildered to find pollen in their cheese, but for many, the dedication to do something different has clearly paid off.

WHERE IS IT? Isternia Bay, Tinos +30 22830 31366

Words by Maria Alafouzou Photos by Antonia Zarpa

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