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General News

Boston’s Greatest Forces in Greek Cuisine Merge

October 4, 2022

BOSTON – Greek dining is giving locals a culinary treat, a journey into Mediterranean delicacies, as some of the biggest names in the area are coming together to expand an empire of restaurants to Brookline and beyond.

Chef Brendan Pelley will prepare roasted, tender meats while firing up an open-flame grill in the open kitchen of Bar Vlaha. The restaurant at 1653 Beacon St. will shed light on the agrestic Greek cookery of the Vlachs, a community of nomadic shepherds.

With the success of other Greek concepts, Bar Vlaha will aim to bring a more traditional and authentic touch to the Greek dining scene. A casual yet chic dining room will set the grounds for a remarkable gastronomic experience, accompanied by a full bar with Greek spirits, wines, and cocktails. Foods will reflect homemade cooking such as fresh pies, spreads, and baked breads, with a heavy focus on grilling or spit-roasted meats, as well as a technique done by the nomadic Greeks called ‘gastra’. Everything will be sourced locally, just like in Greece.

Manitaria / paleokerisio roasted mushrooms, smoked paprika yogurt, farro. Photo by Krasi Boston/Instagram

Bar Vlaha however, is not the only restaurant chef Pelley will oversee as the inaugural culinary director of Xenia Hospitality Group, a newly anointed collective of Greek restaurants that includes ‘meze’ and wine heaven, Krasi, and the fast casual chain Greco.

Xenia is the brandchild of restaurateurs Demetri Tsolakis and Stefanos Ougrinis, who tapped in Pelley to manage the culinary direction of the portfolio as it grows.

“We want to make Boston a center for Greek food,” Tsolakis told Boston Magazine, adding, “I think we’re doing that in people’s eyes, because we have so much more than just tavernas and mom-and-pop diners.”

Part of the plan is to open Greco across multiple locations, in and outside of Boston, as well as expanding its Greek food market, Agora.

Krasi restaurant in Boston. Photo by Lindar Campos/Instagram

Being part of that movement was something Pelley couldn’t resist. “I didn’t want to be tied down to just one project anymore, and then Demetri came to me with his plans for world domination,” Pelley told Boston Magazine with a laugh. Now the chef is ready to put his own stamp on things. “We want all these concepts to have really strong individual identities.”

Pelley’s goal is to emphasize traditional Vlach techniques across a menu of dishes that are “smoky, earthy,” and fit for family-sized platters. For example, Bar Vlaha will feature live-fire-grilled rainbow trout alongside plenty of slow-cooked meats, from braised wild boar to spit-roasted whole lamb, according to Boston Magazine. Starters will include seasonal vegetables, numerous Greek cheeses, a variety of pies; both savory and sweet, such as alevropita which is a thin-batter feta pie, as well as galopita, a crustless milk custard pie.

“The food is going to stay really true to the Vlach people. I’m not going to get really cheffy with interpretations or use modernist techniques,” Pelley said, adding, “I’m really excited about it.”  “It’s like home cooking.”

Selection of charcuterie inspired by recipes and techniques from Greece, locally made. Photo by Krasi Boston/Instagram

Tsolakis mentioned that the restaurant’s interior will also reflect homey vibes. “It’s a mirror of a traditional Greek home, from the utensils to the plateware to the embroidery of the cushions.”

Bar Vlaha will mark the next big project in Xenia’s expanding belt of Greek dining concepts, making they’re team extremely proud. “We’re opening up the door for something undiscovered by people outside of Greece,” Tsolakis said. “No one has done a concept like this. It’s going to be a nice history lesson and an ode to an indigenous people who still exist today,” he added.

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