After more than a year and a half of planning and building, chef Nicholas Eftimiou last night unveiled his new organic Greek restaurant, Pathos at 2430 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley.
The restaurant serves tasty Greek favorites such as Gemista (stuffed red peppers), Moussaka, and Keftedes (lamb meatballs) — as well as fresh seasonal fish and zesty salads — in an upscale rustic-meets wine country decor. At least on opening night, the atmosphere was buzzy but not over-loud (you can hear yourself think, as well as talk), and the wine list offered some interesting, reasonably priced Greek bottles that complement the food well.
The restaurant is very much a family affair. Eftimiou’s father, John, worked as the contractor on the restaurant build-out and his mother oversaw much of its design, as well as helping fine-tune the recipes, many of which originated in the kitchen of Eftimiou’s yaya (grandmother).
Berkeleyside particularly enjoyed the Htapodi (grilled octopus with shaved red onions and capers), the Spanakopita (melt in your mouth filo pastry triangles filled with spinach, feta, mint, dill, fennel and leeks), the Triada (a trio of melitzanosalata, tzatziki, and tirokafteri served with light-as-air housemade pita), and the Wood Oven Lavraki (whole Mediterranean wild white sea bass with lemon saffron butter, capers and pilaf rice).
A wood-burning oven is where many of the dishes on the menu are cooked. It takes pride of place in Pathos’ huge open kitchen that takes up two-thirds of the restaurant’s space. “I wanted an intimate dining room and a large kitchen,” said Eftimiou, who has cooked at Hellenic restaurant Dio Deka in Los Gatos.
Pathos manager Fred Burrell said the menu will expand to include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options once the restaurant is bedded down, despite Greek cuisine’s usual focus on meat. He said they are sensitive to the tastes of the local community, in particular Berkeley, and are looking forward to establishing a clientele looking for organic, freshly prepared Greek food in a smart but relaxed setting.
There are touches of Berkeley in the restaurant’s design too, which features exposed steel beams, an impressively solid wooden front door and lots of muted shades of chocolate. Two large mirrors are framed in wood salvaged from UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium and all the tables in the dining room were bought at Wooden Duck. A colorful panel of stained glass forms a canopy over the bar.
The restaurant is just far enough from the heart of downtown to make parking relatively easy (it’s next door to veteran eatery Giovanni’s), and makes a welcome addition to the burgeoning downtown dining scene.
Berkeleyside were guests of Pathos which is at 2430 Shattuck Ave., between Channing and Haste, in downtown Berkeley. Open for dinner 5:30pm-10pm; plans to open for lunch soon. Check directly with restaurant. Tel:510-981 8339.