Itan Ena Mikro Karavi restaurant, named after the Greek song ‘There was once a little boat’, is located inside a tranquil courtyard – which in the past served as the village outdoor cinema – in the old port of Tinos, just two steps from the water. It is the creation of Antonis Psaltis who, with his sister Stamatoula, have turned it into one of the most interesting restaurants serving innovative cuisine on the island.
Antonis Psaltis, an excellent cook, gained experience working at Balthazar, Rock and Roll and 48, as a member of the team of celebrity chef, Christoforos Peskias in Athens. But even more important is – although he’s so humble and modest he might never mention it – his role as one of the leaders of the Tinos Food Paths movement, which recently won a Tourism Award. It is a exemplary step in Greek gastronomy and offers a clear view of how a place can evolve into a gastronomic destination.
‘I was born in Athens in 1977 and grew up on Tinos, and I have such sweet memories of the trachana (rustic pasta) with tomatoes and cheese that my grandfather used to make in the late afternoon, after we’d come back from fishing. I was very lucky because I always seemed to find myself with people who were passionate about cooking.’
At Itan Ena Mikro Karavi, a long, painted corridor with impressive photos related to food leads you into a walled courtyard, far from the city’s noise and bustle. Amongst the flowers and plants and colourful lamps, the garden resembles a fairy tale oasis, while the closed diningroom, with large openings onto the courtyard, wins your heart with its cheerful colours and delightful decorations of little boats. An old stone-built hammam has been converted as of this year (2018) into a place for seminars and tastings of Aegean cheeses and wines. The restaurant’s bottled wines consist chiefly of the best of the best labels from the Cyclades.
In the kitchen of Antonis Psaltis and his team, the leading role is played by products – cheeses, charcuterie, tiny chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, local meats and Aegean fish) from Tinos but also from the Cyclades in general. Their trademark is clever recipes that marry tradition with contemporary gastronomic trends.