Flavors of Greece abound at Filos Greek Taverna in downtown Northampton

Thursday, March 06, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — Stepping into the new Filos Greek Taverna on Main Street is like walking into a sun-splashed village in Greece with its striking colors and white-washed stucco facades.

A bright blue pergola draped with faux bougainvillea flowers stretches across one ceiling, while a large barrel top encased in the restaurant’s floor pays homage to the country’s grape-growing and wine-making traditions.

The Greek language can be heard intermittently from the kitchen as family and staff of owners Konstantinos and Sunita Sierros take orders during a busy lunchtime rush. They are serving up traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, lamb shank in Orzo, kebab souvlaki in pita wraps, octopus salad and spanakopita, among other delicacies.

The restaurant opened its doors Dec. 12 across the street from the Academy of Music theater and has brought the flavors of this southeast European country to the city’s international dining landscape where the cuisines of Mexico, Japan, India, Tibet, Thailand, Morocco and other corners of the globe co-exist.

“I think Greek food has to be created in a town that is accepting and diverse by nature,” said Konstantinos Sierros, 46, of Florence. “You couldn’t open a restaurant like this in a place that’s not open to trying new things.”

Sierros and his wife, Sunita, who is a Smith College graduate, are no strangers to the area’s restaurant scene. They are the longtime owners of Florence Pizza and Paizano’s Restaurant in Southampton. The couple met about 22 years ago at A-1 Pizza where Konstantinos’s family had been in business since 1983. Since then, the pair had dreamed of opening a restaurant in downtown Northampton and took the plunge when the space that formerly housed Sid Vintage became available for rent.

“I don’t think there’s a better spot in Northampton than being across from the Academy of Music and next to the iconic Edwards Church,” said Sierros in an interview at the restaurant where photos of his extended family, which hails from the Peloponnese region in Greece, adorn the walls. One such photo is of Sierros’ father, Nikolas Sierros, selling grapes as a young man and another of Konstantinos riding a donkey as a boy on a hillside.

Much of the vibrant art work at Filos, which means “friend” in Greek, was done by John Bishop while the four-month, round-the-clock renovations were handled by Cody and Gino DeCesare of Baystate Builders, all of Springfield.

At the rear of the restaurant is a large pizza oven with a circulating two-inch lava stone. The oven was brought from Greece brick by brick and is designed to turn out a thin-crust pizza that the Sierroses said should raise the bar for pizza offerings downtown, including by the slice. Among the pizza combinations are gyro, spinach portabella and caramelized pear-prosciutto and blue cheese.

“It’s significantly different from what we’ve offered our patrons before,” said Konstantinos Sierros.

In addition, the restaurant has a fresh-cut french fry bar menu that features regional flavor combinations taken from Ocean City, Md., California and the Montreal area. Athenian truffle fries, Greek Canadian poutine fries and Filos Greek fries are among them.

Sierros is quick to point out that the restaurant’s pizza side and fry bar take a back seat to its signature Greek fare, however. Filos is all about Greek “comfort food,” as he put it, and the menu’s traditional dishes will reflect the offerings of local farmers’ markets and what’s in season. “Greek food is really about fresh flavors and fresh vegetables,” said Sierros, noting the small shakers of Kalas sea salt on each dining table. “It makes a difference.”

One thing the Sierroses said they did not fully anticipate is the demand for vegetarian offerings, which they are preparing to meet with items like dairy-free tsaztiki sauce and stuffed peppers.

Konstantinos Sierros said he hoped Filos Greek Taverna brings more foot traffic to its area of Main Street, which would help the surrounding businesses.

“I think it enhances the downtown experience,” he said of his Greek restaurant. “I don’t think it’s taken away from anything. This town is based on getting as many businesses to help each other out as much as possible.”

Filos at 279 Main St. is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant does not have a liquor license, although patrons may bring their own beer and wine. Filos offers take out and delivery.

Dan Crowley can be reached at dcrowley@gazettenet.com.