All Things Greek
Greca Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar is a concept that has been calling me for the last twenty years, driven by my passion for all things Greek:
Greek cuisine, Greek hospitality, Greek music, Greek fellowship, Greek art, Greek poetry, Greek philosophy and Greek history are all topics that I can expound upon for hours, particularly over a bottle of Santorini Assyrtiko and a plate of grilled octopus. And, as with all Greeks, I find the greatest pleasure in sharing this passion, particularly with those uninitiated. My father, who came to America as an economic refugee fleeing post-WWII Greece, was an amazing chef in his day, and from him I learned to appreciate everything that the Earth’s bounty bestows upon us, using fresh herbs and spices to gently enhance everything from lambchops to whole fish. From visits to his birthplace on the idyllic Cycladic island of Andros, I developed a deep love of rustic Greek cuisine. His brother and his wife that stayed in his paternal home continue to grow their own produce, raise their own animals, and produce nearly all of the foodstuffs that fill their pantry.
The only items that they purchase are bread, pasta, coffee and beer. Everything else is made with their own hands. Everything. Olive oil, butter, cheeses, wine, grappa, vinegars. Walking through the fields (that are scaled into level sections that are then tiered up the mountainside), we would pick figs fresh from the fig trees, pull onions from the ground, and harvest tomatoes by the bushel. Herbs grow everywhere, as do lemons, bergamots, quince and grapes. The Cyclades are known for being dry, but, still, Andros manages to produce some of the most delicious vegetables I’ve ever tasted. If I had to choose a last meal, it would be an open sandwich of my Thea Assimina’s soft cheese with slices from a freshly picked Andriote tomato on a wedge of oven-fresh bread from the bakery whose aromas fill the entrance to the seaside town of Batsi. Her cheese, made from milk of cows and goats, is at once tangy and bursting with a slightly sour, but incredibly fresh flavor. I’ve searched the world but have found none that can compare.
In my journey to create the perfect Greek culinary experience, I was fortunate to meet a chef whose talents and passion are one with mine. Chef Kosta Ndreu was born in Avlona, a seaside village across the Greek-Albanian border. At the age of fourteen he and his best friend took a walk and didn’t stop until they had crossed over into Greece. Finding their way to Athens, he quickly found work in the city’s kitchens and learned everything he could from
some of the most celebrated chefs in the Greek capital. Twenty years ago he brought that knowledge to New York City, working in many of the city’s finest Greek restaurants. But a resume credential is only as good as the paper on which it’s printed. Tasting his yemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers) for the first time nearly brought tears to my eyes – his tasted exactly as did my father’s.
And so, our journeys joined, with a course set to present Greek cuisine in all of its rustic glory beside a “gastro-Greek” approach that takes Greek culinary elements and techniques into uncharted territory. Our shared love of the ingredients that Greek cuisine offers is at the core of Kosta’s culinary point- of-view. As evidence, the first Greca Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar, located in Litchfield County, Connecticut, was voted Best Overall Excellence in 2020, our first year of operation (as well as Best New Restaurant and Best Mediterranean/Greek Restaurant).
As we opened our second location, in White Plains, New York, renowned mixologist Frankie Rodriguez joined our ranks and has immediately taken what was an excellent craft cocktail program and elevated it to world class status. Utilizing some amazing Greek spirits along with flavors, herbs and special ingredients such as walnut preserves and quince syrup, he has created beverages that are at exciting, new and creative.
Together with Nikos Belmezas, Rachel Cosgrove and Ioannis Ntaoulas (who round out our management teams in both restaurants), we are charting a course to bring the best of the Greek kitchen to new markets.
– Constantine “Dino” Kolitsas
A Concept 2,500 Years in the Making
Greek Cuisine. Fresh, healthful, and pure. With a focus on ingredients that are natural and sustainable; both sourced locally and imported from the sun-kissed islands and rugged mountains of Greece. Greca Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar is a concept 2,500 years in the making; steeped in tradition while exploring new creative paths forged from those traditions. Fresh fish flown from the Aegean is featured alongside succulent char-grilled meats that are at the center of a Greek festive table. Octopus, tender and rich, is served over a bed of Santorini fava (yellow lentil spread) with local tomatoes and red onions; tzatziki made with locally-sourced yogurt produced by a third-generation Greek dairy farmer is lovingly made in the authentic way (strained through cheesecloth); and loukaniko (village pork sausage) is infused with orange peel, as is the custom in the Peloponnese.
In Greek culture, food is at the center of our lives, with every home producing it’s own culinary genius, very often known by the name “yiayia”. Among Greeks, food is made with love, with great thought and care given to each ingredient. Food is an extension of hospitality, a concept so important to Greeks that the word’s literal translation is “love of strangers”. For us, each meal, then, is a celebration; bringing together loved ones, old friends and new friends. Shared plates (whether meze or feasting platters), bottles of wine and cocktails crafted from the unique spirit heritage of Greece, are an invitation to commune with one another; to laugh, sing, imbibe and savor.
Dino Kolitsas - Managing Partner
Restaurateur Constantine “Dino” Kolitsas has been working in restaurants since in utero. After owning a small group of bakery cafes and taking leadership positions in emerging restaurant concepts, Kolitsas established his own successful restaurant consulting group. In November 2019, he opened the first Greca Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar in Litchfield County, Connecticut earning the statewide awards in the “Best Overall Excellence”, “Best New Restaurant”, and “Best Mediterranean/Greek Restaurant” categories for 2021 Reader’s Poll by Connecticut Magazine. The Greca concept is the culmination of his love for his Greek culture and his passion for great food, drink and hospitality.
Kosta Ndreu, Executive Chef
Executive Chef Kosta Ndreu began his culinary journey in Athens, Greece as a young man who emigrated from his native Avlona, a seaside village in Albania. Kosta honed his craft under several well-known Athenian chefs and brought his knowledge to the United States, where he worked in a number of fabled Manhattan Greek restaurants, including Meltemi, Ethos, Trata and Kyma. Kosta joined Greca Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar in Litchfield County, Connecticut in January 2020, helping Greca to achieve accolades from Connecticut Magazine, CT Bites, and others.