For decades the hottest (and haute-est) Athenian restaurants were those serving foreign cuisine, from foie gras to sushi. When it opened in late 2005, Alatsi started a rediscovery of regional Greek cuisine among even the snootiest Athenians. Owned by a Crete-born newscaster, the restaurant has become a hangout for journalists, writers, artists, and anyone hankering for Cretan specialties including fresh stamnagathi (chicory) greens drizzled in lemon and olive oil—the secret to long life, according to the islanders—and gamopilafo (“wedding rice”), a paella-like concoction of chicken, lamb, and rice pilaf served at receptions and festivals. Alatsi means “salt” in Cretan dialect, and the whole place is Cretan-flavored, from the photos of the island’s landscape on the wall to the ancient bed frames that form the stair railings.
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