To Steki, a family run taverna, is open throughout the year and becomes alive with seasonal tourists during the hot summer months, sampling not only the local Greek delicacies and fine house wine, but also the warm hospitality of the owners, Evangelos Orfanos and his wife Anna Helioti. The meals, including a variety of fresh fish, grilled meats, crisp salads and tasty appetizers are often accompanied by live music and dancing. It's also a perfect location to dine during the day and admire the spectacular sunsets early evening.
To find out more about this quaint village restaurant, I spoke to Evangelos Orfanos, the owner, to learn about its history and why it is such a popular place to eat:
Can you tell me something about yourself, your family and the history of "To Steki"?
Well, my name is Vangelis and I was born and raised here in Tolo. I run the taverna with my wife, Anna Helioti who was also born here. We have two daughters Zoe, 18 & Joanna, 17 years old and we have been running "TO STEKI", the meeting point as we like to call it since 1986.
What kinds of dishes are on the menu and which three would you recommend diners to order on their first visit to the restaurant?
There are a variety of dishes on the daily menu, everything from fresh fish, grilled meats and of course, many of the local and regional Greek specialties, such as mousaka and Lamb Kleftiko or Juvetsi with noodles fresh calamari etc.
I would highly recommend diners try the prawn saganaki , the pork with leaks and feta cheese, and our seafood dishes and fish soup.
Has the menu changed a lot over the years and has the present crisis affected what meals are offered?
The menu has to be changed now and again because there are a lot of people who keep coming back. It makes sense to offer them new dishes so they can sample new foods as well as their favourite meals. The present crisis has in a small way affected what meals are offered because of the rising cost of produce. However, we do still try to keep to the menu people recognise and serve the dishes that they enjoy.
I have heard that you get many of the locals popping in to eat?
Yes, I'm pleased to say that we have built up a long list of regulars over the years from Tolo and the neighbouring towns and villages. It is a great compliment to see people come back time and time again and to sit at a table and chat with them.
What can visitors to "To Steki" expect in the way of entertainment?
Well, three times a week, there is live Greek music and dancing with the locals. It's very entertaining and of course, the musicians sing old, traditional Greek songs which creates a warm and cozy atmosphere.
What do you think sets the restaurant apart from its competitors?
Certainly, our traditional Greek recipes, as they come from Crete, from our Great grandparents.
Also, starting this restaurant with my parents and having all the cooking done by my mother Zoe meant that, we learnt authentic homemade Hellenic dishes from her. Today, my wife Anna and I try to keep the menus as they were then; full of wonderful tasty dishes. We also have some fine Greek wines, including the famous Retsina.
Finally, I believe that the live Greek music is also an important factor. I sometimes play music with friends, and guests of the restaurant are always welcome to join in. Remember, we are only a few feet from the sea, so it is a beautiful setting for an evening of dining and music.
How would you describe "To Steki" in your own words?
A friendly meeting point, a place where you can make new friends, Greek nights with lots of fun, excellent wholesome cuisine and a superb first-rate service.
What are your plans for the restaurant in 2012?
No huge plans. I would just like to see the same faces at my tables and welcome new ones. I believe 2012 will be a difficult year for all of us, so I hope that we will manage to ride the storm until better times are upon us again.
As a restaurant owner, how important is it to have actual experience in every aspect of the business, as you have?
It is very important to learn from our experiences and to be able to be professional in every aspect of running a restaurant. I have enjoyed being a part of the whole business and I now feel highly efficient in everything I do.
Finally, Can you describe Tolo in a few words and say why it is worth a visit?
First of all, Tolo is an excellent choice for a summer holiday. It is surrounded by the ancient sites at Asine, Epidavrus, islands like Hydra and Spetses etc. There are also plenty of nice hotels, rooms & apartments, fine restaurants, bars, cafes and of course there is the fantastic beach of Tolo which sprawls along the front of this old fishing village coupled with the open sea with its clear, blue sparkling waters.
Perhaps it is the idyllic setting combined with the variety of appetizing home-cooked meals which makes this village restaurant a delightful place to eat. Its quiet and peaceful ambiance during the day and its lively atmosphere at night provides an excellent dining option for those who are in this part of the world. Whether visiting Tolo on holiday or just passing through on a day trip, "To Steki", is a friendly reasonably priced taverna, waiting to welcome and offer its visitors the best in local Greek food.