Food Mafia, Ilias Skoulas strikes again!

August 21, 2013
Food Mafia is undoubtedly an interesting new restaurant that further enhances Glyfada’s gastronomic scene.
Wine List:
3.5 / 5.0
3.0 / 5.0
3.0 / 5.0

.As for whether it is an “anti-restaurant” or has “anarchic prices”, as promised by its creator and chef Elias Skoulas, I can’t really see it, but it’s probably still too early to assess.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ilias Skoulas’ cuisine is exuberant and tasty. The idea of comfort food flows in his veins and when such offerings are served in a comfortable, non-conformist space, it can surprise with its creativity and flavour. Food Mafia, which opened 15 days ago in the southern Athens coastal suburb of Glyfada aspires to be just that: a non-conformist, casual restaurant with a changing menu, dishes from all over the world, carefully sourced ingredients, and emphasis on meat and “anarchic” prices, as Skoulas himself underlines in interviews and press releases.

However, the first and main criticism relates precisely to this. By its own statements, Food Mafia gives rise to expectations it cannot fulfil… at least not yet. At €40-45 per person (with starter, main course, dessert and wine), the restaurant may offer reasonable value for money, but prices can in no way be described as “anarchic”. The multi-ethnic menu, which is frequently changed, does not suggest an “anti-restaurant”, particularly when the attractive interior with its clever “mafia” touches in the décor looks far more like a good restaurant than the talented and volatile Ilias Skoulas would probably want.

On the other hand, it is still early days for Food Mafia and its all-day operation has yet to start, along with the serving of its street-food options, before we sit in judgment. Besides, it’s up to the chef himself to get out into the dining room and create that non-conformist atmosphere that will vindicate his announced intentions and liberate him personally. And it’s quite understandable in these first days for him to spend more time in the kitchen than in the dining room, until he is satisfied that his dishes are coming out the way he wants them.

Anyway, moving on to the substance: the food. And because I am afraid I began my review with a gripe, I shall immediately present my conclusions about the cuisine. At Food Mafia the fare is tasty and well prepared, often with some particularly interesting dishes. From the barely steamed, aromatic Vietnamese rolls with juicy shrimp and the absolutely delicious spaghetti “con le sarde” with sardines, saffron and raisins to the Argentinean-inspired saganaki with provolone piccante and the delectable linguine with tomato and Tuscan meatballs (which I would have preferred a little lighter) mixed with porcini mushrooms, nearly all the dishes I tried had that deep flavour and exuberant touch which characterize the cuisine “of the heart” proposed by Ilias Skoulas. I also tried the browned côte de bœuf, which melted in the mouth, covered in a thick, incredibly tasty sauce of thyme honey and Lagavulin, as well as the impressive burger with five types of mince (but mainly Black Angus beef) served with caper aioli, avocado, cheddar and Pisto manchego (Spanish dish, a sort of puréed ratatouille) which, although flavourful, could have been juicier, with a meatier taste and its various ingredients more distinct. In addition, I enjoyed a large and impeccably grilled Bistecca Fiorentina, which if matured a little longer would have been perfect. There were many other dishes I would like to try… and this is one of the new restaurant’s strong points!
Concluding, I should note that the service is already very good, with just the right balance of friendliness and attentiveness. The wine list is satisfactory, with certain interesting proposals, while to round off my meal I couldn’t resist a classic Chicago, along with one of the very good drinks (and at very good prices) on the list. In contrast, I will have no trouble resisting one or two of the cocktails I tried.  

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