That Wednesday afternoon, as I was walking in the square of Nea Kios, life was flowing relaxing and calmly. Until I arrived in "Fani's Smyrneiko" (Smyrna style restaurant) and I got to know one of the most restless and ever-moving creatures; Fanis in person! I have said it many times and I will intentionally repeat it: places are their people. Behind the good food, the decoration, the positive aura, lies the vision, the passion and concept of a human being. And from where I am right now, I can confirm it.
You need some time to tune in to the rhythms of Fanis Vogiatzis. Marathon runner, you see, he is used to running non-stop, developing the endurance that life requires, but also the kitchen. With a father working as waiter -previous service in the same position as his- and with roots of origin from Smyrna (of Minor Asia), in 1999, when Fanis opened his own shop, he could not find a more apt name than this: "Fani's Smyrneiko" and a more ideal place, than the refugees' city of Nea Kios.
In the same place, where there used to be a swamp and little Fanis used to hunt frogs with his friends, now there is an amazing restaurant, which initially gained fame thanks to the famous chicken skewers.
In the living room of grandma from Smyrna
In the outside, just two steps from the street are enough, to travel you nostalgically to another era. Two old servans, a jewelry-gramophone donated by a neighbor, manuals from monasteries, cross-stitch embroidery in ornated frames, frame, like a theatrical setting, the wooden tables in shades of white and black, with blue and red touches.
The interior is decorated in the same concept, in a more maximalist way though; it is full of covers of old magazines, such as Romanzo and Icons, as on the shelves stand side by side vintage liqueur glasses, glass decanters and copper jugs. An old sewing machine is now the basis for the turntable with its mini-discs, and two bicycles pedal in the black and white memories of grandfather's life and in the memorial family photos. On the dressing-screen, a bridal bag and a petticoat converse with the grandmother's trunk found opposite, while in the kitchen the old stove seems to still give off warmth, close to the scales, the feta tins and the "gavani" (the bronze mortar).
Mary, Fanis's wife, always smiling cooks non-stop, as Fanis going in and out of the kitchen, greets customers in his own special way.
Essay of delicious ideas
In a blue school copy-book the essay of delicious ideas is handwritten with a blue Bic pen, while the menu begins with the history of the family and its memories from Smyrna. Before describing you the menu, I will urge you from the heart to definitely order the chicken skewers. I have never eaten more tender -like foam- pieces of chicken, while the sauce that accompanies them takes off the delicious result.
The grilled meats, meat skewers and pies are perfect, but you came to a Smyrna restaurant, you are determined to taste dishes from Smyrna -logical. What to choose first, though? Smyrnaean pie, kebab dish, yoghurt lahmatzun (definitely!), pasturma-soutzouklou pie (a dream!), stuffed with pasturma and aubergines patty (bourek), kavourma (Pontian recipe with peppers), giants beans with pasturma or maybe tsaklama (traditional pie)?
Accompany your meal with one of the salads: savory, cabbage, rustic, or "Veziri" with arugula, lettuce, parmesan, pomegranate sauce and pasturma.
Do you come for the first time and do not know what to order? No worry! Fanis is here for you, and his first and foremost concern is to see you satisfied. It is no coincidence that he, with the help of his beautiful family, has appeased the hunger of thousands of people with his delicacies, has painted smiles, has joined people together.
You just sit and enjoy the moments, feel how truly Rock is the "rebetika" music, ask for some more Taximi of Naoussa, fill up your friend's glasses -and one for Fanis as well; in contrast to his food, you will never get enough of his stories…
Did you know that?
Seems probably unbelievable, but the excellent decoration has been entirely done by the owner himself!
Fanis has been purchasing the meat from his favorite butcher for years now, as his collaboration with Sary's butcher shop in Xanthi for pasturma, soutzouki and salami is constant over time.
You reach Nea Kios from Nafplio easily by car (or even bicycle!), driving along the Nafplio-Nea Kios coastal road.
Take away, Music, WiFi
Closed: Holy Week, Christmas and New Year's Eve, Shrove Monday
Monday to Sunday 18:30pm to 00:30