In the works for close to a year, Thasos, Fort Lauderdale’s highly-anticipated indoor/outdoor new dining destination, has officially opened its doors. Sophisticated and contemporary, embracing the hospitality and spirit of the Greek islands with the service and style of an elegant restaurant & lounge, Thasos is a passion project conceptualized by co-owners Gus Leontarakis and Sophia Mylona. Serving dinner nightly, Thasos offers a selection of time-honored Greek favorites and innovative dishes, all made from scratch in-house. A native of Thasos, Greece, Leontarakis has been a successful businessman for more than 50 years; Mylona, his partner in life and business, is a seasoned traveler, passionate foodie who carries a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from New York University and an exacting palate. For the restaurant, the duo wanted to bring a taste of the Greek island to Fort Lauderdale but infuse it with casual elegance, a unique brand of Greek chic. “We want our guests to experience the great food and warm hospitality our culture is known for with a lighter, more refined edge you find in modern Greece,” said Mylona. “People come in as customers and leave as friends.”
To make their dream a reality, they conducted an extensive talent search and recruited a dynamite team of hospitality pros. Consulting chef Giorgio Bakatsias of Giorgio’s Hospitality Group, the acclaimed restaurateur who introduced South Florida to rustic Greek cuisine in the 90s, is the creative culinary master whose passionate Zen approach to food has earned him critical acclaim for more than 30 fine dining restaurants, food venues, and gourmet markets including the original Giorgio’s Mediterranean Village in South Florida as well as many successful ventures in North Carolina. According to Mylona, “Giorgio treats food the way he treats life, with a perfect balance of yin and yang. We knew we wanted his understated philosophy and great wisdom to be a part of this dream.” For Thasos, Bakatsias brought in executive chef William D’Auvray, an industry veteran with close to 30 years’ experience in the business and the most talented chef that Bakatsias has worked with. “William has the perfect blend of skills for this project,” Bakatsias offers. “He loves simple, rustic cuisine but has incredible technical skills and a real knack for elevating dishes with technique and by using amazing, fresh product. These elements combined, made him a natural to execute Thasos’ menu.”
D’Auvray’s creative, yet approachable dishes reflect the bounty of seafood that comes from the Mediterranean as well as an array of meats prepared on the wood-burning rotisserie. Everything is made in-house and many of the fresh ingredients come directly from Thasos, including the spices, herbs and olive oil. Plates stay true to their ingredients, allowing flavors to shine without heavy sauces and creams.
The journey at Thasos begins with an array of Pikilia (Greek spreads), Mezedes (shared plates) and salads ($6-$20). On the traditional side of things: green chick peas - a lighter take on traditional hummus, Spanakopita and grape leaves stuffed with seasoned Arborio rice, lemon and mint. Menu highlights include plump baby sepia (cuttlefish), fire grilled; octopus, gorgeously charred and dressed with oregano and Thasos olive oil; flame-broiled shrimp Saganaki with roasted tomato and feta, and briam – iron baked eggplant with basil, tomato and cippolini onions. Specialties “from the garden” include fennel tossed with frisee, orange segments, manouri cheese and pine nuts and Brussels sprouts, charred in a white-hot pan with Thasos honey and house-cured pork belly
Main Courses ($17-$33) include pumpkin swordfish with caramelized root vegetables, capers and grilled lemon; Lavraki – grilled whole Mediterranean Sea bass with fine herbs, lemon and Thasos olive oil and organic salmon, served with a lentil cake, charred tomato, giaourti and dill. Rounding out the savory options are a spit-roasted crown rack of pork, served with zucchini fritters and natural jus and lamb chops with crunchy fingerling potatoes, Thasos oregano and lemon. Desserts ($8-$10) include a baklava, yogurt & honey panna cotta with preserved blueberries, and galaktoboureko – creamy milk custard wrapped in phyllo.
Ensuring liquid refreshment will match up with the food, the team at Thasos has developed a unique list of creative Hand-crafted Signature Cocktails ($14). Highlights include: Karpouzo, a refreshing harmony of ouzo and Ketel One vodka, lemon, watermelon, and rosemary and a Mediterranean take on a Pisco sour – the Skinos Sour with Skinos, honey, grapefruit, lemon and egg white. The restaurant’s sub-zero, temperature controlled wine room houses more than 100 different varietals, with a heavy emphasis on Greek selections and what meal would be complete without a bottle of Mythos Greek lager?
Complementing the unique and sophisticated cuisine is the one-of-a-kind dining space created by Architect Art Bengochea and award-winning designer Angelos Angelopoulos. A place where the Aegean meets the Atlantic, the experience begins before ever entering the restaurant, where the beauty of the building stands out among the landscape. White stucco walls call to mind classic Greek architecture and are dotted with coves of varying shapes that emit intermittent, multi-colored lights, evoking the look of Thasos’ mesmerizing allure. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are immediately transported into a modern and sophisticated Mediterranean oasis. Seating 150 inside, the sleek and contemporary dining room reflects traditional Greek touch points with an artistic, stylish twist. Polished concrete floors, stacked stone walls; an inviting bar of white marble and an adjacent lounge, outfitted with high tops and cozy seating all set the scene; offering the perfect space to sit back, relax and enjoy cocktails and food with friends. Echoing the exterior design, the dining room’s ceiling also features cutouts lined with lights, which slowly change color throughout the night. A soft candlelit wall, open kitchen and rotating photos of Greek scenery round out the bustling yet intimate ambiance. With the ocean just blocks away, al fresco seating on the patio offers an intoxicating dining experience. Reminiscent of outdoor Mediterranean dining, complete with a balmy breeze, the lively atmosphere seats 75 and features banquettes, white-washed tables and suspended cube lighting, making it the perfect place to linger over great food and conversation.
Thasos is located at 3330 East Oakland Park Boulevard, just off A1A. Dinner is served seven nights a week, beginning at 5 p.m. Reservations Suggested. Telephone: (954) 200-6006. www.thasostaverna.com.