Ta Rolla Restaurant
Ta Rolla, at 53 Spartis Street, is one of the most historic restaurants in Kalamata, having opened in 1924.
The first owner was Barba Yiannis, who, when he returned after several years work as an immigrant in America, wanted to create a dining spot that would show his great love for his native land. He gave it the name Rolla, because in those days the building had metal roller blinds that covered its plate-glass windows when it was shut.
In just a few years, the place will celebrate a century of uninterrupted operation, not even during the Occupation did it close. And today it continues to be a family business that was recently renovated by Barba Yiannis’ grandchildren, Yiorgos and Sylvia Athanasopoulos.
The restaurant’s cooking is genuine traditional Greek using simple, fresh ingredients. Anna Athanasopoulou, the kids’ mother, runs the kitchen. Her specialties are the classics: moussaka, pastitsio, fried cod with fresh tomato or garlic sauce, stuffed tomatoes and peppers, stewed vegetables such as okra or string beans, etc. Depending on the season, you will various other dishes like bean soup, pork with celery in a lemony sauce, roast chicken with potatoes, chicken livers in tomato sauce, cockerel with home-made noodles, lentils, aubergines bakes with various cheeses, briam (Greek ratatouille), stuffed courgettes with rice and mincemeat…
In winter customers eat inside in a bright, airy space lit by the plate-glass windows, but what strikes your eye is the display case with its casseroles. In summer, tables are set on the spacious pavement, though there’s also the possibility of take-away and delivery.
The restaurant opens at 8 am, serving tripe soup to workers at the nearby Municipal Market, but lunch time is prime time. Customers come early to take their regular tables. Most of the early birds seem to be bachelors or pensioners, but later office workers will take their place.
With well-chosen ingredients, the atmosphere of an old-fashioned eatery, a family welcome and extremely reasonable prices, it’s no wonder that Rolla restaurant is one of the most popular hangouts in the city of Kalamata.