Taste: It’s All Greek

Center City’s Estia, opening this month, is debunking the myth that Greek cuisine is nothing but ouzo and baklava. Here, classic flavors like mint, lemon, olive and feta meet the modern dishes found in fashionable restaurants in Greece today, like astakomakaronada — spaghetti with lobster in a light lobster-tomato sauce, spiced with cinnamon and cloves — or cheese-stuffed calamari, grilled and accompanied by sweet, tender sherry-braised tentacles and basil pesto dipping sauce, with kalamata olive oil and fresh lemon juice rendering the sauce more Sparta than Sicily.

“My friends were always asking me when I was going to open up a Greek place in Philly, because there is no Greek food here,” says Peter Pashalis, of Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzerias, who has teamed up at Estia with his brother Nick — of New York’s famed Greek spot Avra — and Pietro’s co-owner John Lois. The trio hired Greek cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi as consulting chef, as well as Avra architect Yianni Skordas, who created Estia’s arched ceilings and open wood-and-tile marketplace atmosphere.

The 200-seat restaurant emphasizes fish, inviting patrons to pick their seafood from the dining-room display. Balancing out the menu are grilled meats, roasted veggies, and traditional appetizer spreads like tzatziki and skordalia (yogurt and almond dips, respectively). The Greek wine, beer, cocktails (including a Greek brandy mojito) and coffee, brewed in hot sand over an open fire pit, complete the myth-meets-modern Mediterranean experience.

Estia, 1407 Locust Street; 215-735-7700.