BOSTON – The loss of Cafe Jaffa earlier this year wasn’t inestimable for all of Boston. Just the Back Bay. If you can’t remember it, you absolutely should be ashamed of yourself. It was one of the few spots in the neighborhood completely devoid of any sense of pretense or self consciousness. Was it at all high end or innovative? No. Grape leaves, schwarma and Turkish coffee were de rigueur staples, all served simply and without affectation. Was the service slow? Yes. That’s what you need from a family establishment. Go to Lolita for a $17 empanada if you'd prefer service tailored to your delicate needs.
But a 30-year stint on the corner of Newbury Street isn’t anything to scoff at. You can’t blame the owners for their decision to retire. And at least they had the good sense to sell it prior to bowing out—in this case for a purported $350,000 to Demetri Tsolakis of nearby GreCo.
According to Boston magazine, Tsolakis (who also runs Committee in the Seaport) plans to open Krasi, a Greek meze grill scheduled to open in the fall. Tsolakis promises to keep the personable ambience Jaffa was known for—but with an emphasis on Greek wine. A substantial emphasis.
“There will be wines only Krasi will have,” he boasted of the all-Greek wine list selected by sommelier Alexandros Efkarpidis. “We want to have fun with it, but invite people to have a cultural experience with us, too.”
“Just in my travels through Greece, I’m loving all the varietals of Greek wine. We’re pretty much drinking the same stuff Socrates and Aristotle were drinking back in the day. I love that there’s a story to tell, the history of it.”
Never mind the fact that Aristotle was notorious for his asceticism. Greek food might not be hard to come by in the city. But decent Greek food historically has been. In fact, you used to have to travel out to Framingham or Lowell just to find any. And even then, your choices were essentially limited to either souvlaki or moussaka. Tsolakis may not have changed that single handedly. But given that the menu at Committee consists of such variations as sushi grape leaves, lamb dumplings and gyro baos, it’s not a huge stretch to venture that same sense of imagination will be present at Kransi when he brings along executive chef Theo Tsilipanos.
Also scheduled to open in the fall downstairs from Krasi is Hecate, another Tsolakis venture named after the mythological goddess of witchcraft, ghosts and…
Wait a second, Demetri. You want your patrons to drink the “same stuff” Socrates did in a lounge named after the goddess of the dead?
Krasi is scheduled to open in October 2019 at 48 Gloucester St in Boston. For more information, visit krasiboston.com