Mazi offers a celebration of Greek flavors and family with a mouthwatering menu and welcoming aesthetic in Red Hook.
Can we get an opa? The long-awaited Mazi is finally open, and if you’re a Greek food fan, you’ll love Red Hook’s newest restaurant. Opa translates roughly to “hooray!”—and that’s the feeling you get when scooping warm, pillowy pita into a trio of dips including garlicky hummus, cool tzatziki, and salty taramasalata with cured roe and lemon juice.
Red Hook resident Taso Gionnoulis has owned beloved Italian restaurant Enzo’s Ristorante & Pizza in Kingston for over 20 years but has long dreamed of sharing his Greek culture with his hometown. Everything about the new spot celebrates family—including the name Mazi, which means “together” in Greek. The large menu includes meze, salads, soups, burgers, pita sandwiches, pantofla, entrées, sides, and sweets. It combines family favorites from his Greek-born mother, grilled dishes that honor the memory of his father, and what Gionnoulis calls “bar food with a Greek twist.”
Classic moussaka and his grandmother’s lemon potatoes, rice, and orzo are the foods that “bring out my soul,” says Gionnoulis. The grilled lamb chops and pork chops recall childhood weekends when Gionnoulis and his father would grill together. Greek nachos are topped with “pico de Greeko”—pepperoncini and olives instead of the cilantro and jalapeños. The octopus honors his girlfriend—as the two bonded over their mutual love for it when they first started dating. Serving it with pork belly is a Gionnoulis twist. He guessed that fig-glazed pork would complement the octopus (and it does).
Surprisingly, spanakopita—the traditional spinach and cheese filo pie—is Mazi’s most contentious dish. “People here are used to processed filo dough. The filo I get is imported from Greece and hand-rolled like my father used to make it.” The result is a more rustic crust than most are accustomed to. Gionnoulis sources as many ingredients from Greece as possible, such as grape leaves, olive oil, feta, and oregano. The pita and baklava are from Astoria, Queens, but the cheesecake is made in house.
The restaurant is decorated in soothing, subtle shades of blue, white, and gray with Greek key designs on the walls. A long bar lined with subway tiles is stocked with Greek spirits including ouzo and Metaxa. Mazi also serves wines from his father’s home village, Red Donkey beer from Santorini, and a variety of Greek sodas.
Before opening Mazi, Gionnoulis sat down with his daughters, Stasia and Yianna, and discussed the pros and cons of opening a second restaurant. “You always tell us to live our dreams,” they said, “It’s time for you to live yours.”