Thanos Tripi grew up surrounded by a big family, Greek hospitality, and a table that was never empty.
And his new Ossington restaurant, Mamakas is a representation of those family values, his heritage cuisine, and of course, his mother.
The bright, 2,400sqft dining room houses family relics from Athens and Sparta, including a portrait of Tripi’s mother and grandparents hanging above the 8-person chef’s table.
The adjacent front window is adorned with the inscription Panda Polisei – “Greek Market” or “a lot to sell”. They’re the same words that fronted his grandparents’ general store back home. Walking into Mamakas is like entering a portal to Tripi’s Greece.
And since it wasn’t uncommon for his mother to entertain for 60-plus guests – this is a very good thing.
In fact, Tripi’s entire menu is a reflection of her recipes.
Pierre Restivo and Sebouh Yacoubian (formerly Trinity Taverna) helm the line behind a long 8-seater bar of white marble dubbed the kitchen counter. Of the 85-seats in the house, 16 are reserved for off-menu experiences. Simply call ahead and ask for seating at the chef’s table or the counter if you want to be “taken care of” by the kitchen.
It took some time to find the right chefs, Tripi explains. “This isn’t Danforth cooking. These are my mother’s flavours – it’s not what everybody’s used to.”
The menu is made up of mostly Greek ingredients that will change with the seasons. The staples – olive oil, fresh herbs, wine, and beer are all imported from Greece.
Spanakopita is constructed with four ultrathin sheets of authentic Greek filo dough (traditional preparations use 35). Drizzled with Greek honey and dipped in Greek yoghurt, it might just be the lightest, most delicate preparation you’ve ever tasted.
Shrimp saganaki sees skillet seared jumbo prawns spiked with ouzo, swimming in a sweet acidic tomato sauce with Dodonis feta and fresh chives.
Tuna tartare is constructed from a micro assembly of ingredients from Mamakas’ horiatiki (Greek salad). Ontario hothouse tomatoes, Dodonis feta, cucumber, and shallots are combined with raw Pacific tuna, capers chive, and chili pepper oil. It tastes as excellent as it sounds.
Though the lighter fare truly shines, the Ontario lamb chops with latholemono (oil and lemon) sauce also nails it. While market fresh fish will change daily and so too will desserts. Think: flaky filo, caramelized figs, and citrus semolina custard like in their bougatza.
Needless to say, if your home tasted half as delicious as Mamakas, you’d probably never leave.