Real talk: I’ve always hated when professional restaurant reviews are prefaced by long-winded, self-indulgent trips down critics’ travel memory lane. This fresh, hand-cut pasta reminds you of that time you meandered into a tiny trattoria in Florence. The octopus was just as tender as that under-the-radar tapas bar in Madrid. You haven’t had wine this exquisite since your summer tour of Bordeaux.
Imma let you finish, but I’m sorry; I just don’t care. If I haven’t been to said destination, I cannot relate to your experience.
But now that I’ve traveled a little more myself, I can understand the impulse to relate stateside meals to ones I’ve had abroad, and the desire to find the same kind of tastes closer to home. Since my trip to Santorini three years ago, I’ve been trying to find Greek food in Connecticut that comes close to the cuisine I fell in love with there.
Sure, you can get a gyro at most pizzerias. Spanakopita, grape leaves, tzatziki and baklava, even. But Cavos goes above and beyond, featuring delicacies you may not have ever seen if you’ve never been to Greece (or if you don’t have a Yiayia.) Avgolemeno soup. Skordalia (potato and garlic dip.) Gigantes (giant beans baked in tomato and dill.) Authentic, legitimate Greek salad (horiatiki) with just tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and big blocks of feta. And my all-time favorite: saganaki (pan-fried cheese.) Thoughts of the saganaki we had at Nikolas Taverna in Fira still send shivers down my spine.
I know. Someone, somewhere is reading my honeymoon food memories and saying “I DON’T CAAAAAARE.” Touche.
Any good Greek meal should have great Greek wine to accompany it, but in the two years since I’d last been to Cavos, the Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko they once served seems to have vacated the menu. Emily and I pouted very briefly, until our sweetheart server, Edyta, brought us four tiny tasting flutes. She encouraged us to try the Nasiakos Moschofilero and “My Big Fat Greek Wine” Savatiano, the house white, in its place. We loved them both. Major points for customer service.
Then we decided to demolish the mezedes menu, ordering spanakopita, tzatziki, saganaki, fried zucchini with skordalia and tomato sauce and chicken and lamb skewers.
Edyta also brought a basket full of toasted pita and garlic bread that might have fed a table of 12. And then we feasted.
Even though we packed at least half of our food to go and claimed gut-busting fullness, Edyta had overheard me wishing Emily a happy birthday and surprised us with two small dishes of rice pudding, dusted with cinnamon. A lovely gesture. We felt very spoiled.
Cavos’ view of the Berlin Turnpike is far from picturesque, but a glass of Moschofilero and a few small plates will practically conjure a caldera view.
Cavos Tavern and Pizzeria, 2414 Berlin Turnpike, Newington. 860-667-9200, cavostavern.com.