Christina Patsios wants to cook for you. Just for you.
While many restaurants are embracing the “farm to table” movement and are working to educate their eaters about good food, Patsios wants to make you what you want to eat. She also wants to serve you some of her best dishes from her new Newton Highlands restaurant, Christina’s.
“I like to have someone call me, and say ‘We’re coming in today,’” explains Patsios. “Like these ladies did yesterday. They just asked me to cook. They left it up to me, and I just cooked for them. And they loved it!”
Patsios has been around food and restaurants her entire life. Born in Greece, Patsios came to the US as a young girl. While growing up in Sharon, she helped her parents at their donut and pizza shops. She “always wanted to be an interior decorator,” but instead Patsios married her husband Jimmy, a native of Greece who lived in Sweden, and they moved to Stockholm in 1999.
For twelve years, Patsios devoted herself to the Greek restaurants she and her husband opened there. Beginning with learning the language and going to culinary school shortly after her arrival, Patsios was dedicated to making these ventures a success.
But Patsios was homesick, and she had never given up on her dream of having a restaurant that truly reflected her take on food and décor, but at the same time managed to stay near to where she grew up. So she started scouting locations and felt that Newton was the right place to put down some new roots and find a home for the realization of her dream. This meant leaving Jimmy to run the Stockholm restaurants and bringing their son, Angelo, with her to help get Christina’s off the ground.
It took her nearly two years to find the right spot, redesign the space to her specifications and aesthetic and go through all of the steps needed to open a restaurant here, but a week ago – on July 22nd- Christina’s opened its doors. Patsios saw the realization of her dream restaurant.
Sometimes even dreams need a little revision, though. Supported by a morning staff that would allow Patsios to maintain a life (and her sanity), originally she had planned on serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. This didn’t exactly go as planned.
“The staff didn’t understand my way,” Patsios explains. “I told them ‘This isn’t a diner! I want things beautiful, with garnishes and perfect plates!’ They didn’t get it, so I decided to stop breakfast until I can work that out. It has to be right.”
For now, Patsios is concentrating on refining and focusing the lunch and dinner menus – but she hasn’t given up on the breakfast idea yet. She suggests diners continue to stop by or call to check if they’re serving breakfast.
This would also give an eager eater a chance to find out what the specials are for that day. Patsios will be spotlighting some of the dishes she removes from the regular menu in its redefinition, as well as whatever strikes her fancy or meshes with the fresh ingredients she has procured for the day. Or, you can just ask her to make you whatever you feel like eating or what she wants to cook for you, off menu.
Patsios herself has a definite preference when it comes to her comfort food of choice, a dish she is looking forward to sharing with her customers.
“When I cook for myself, I make papoutsaki,” states Patsios. “It’s a hollowed-out eggplant, like a boat, stuffed with sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, a little spice, baked with a piece of feta on top. It’s nice, it’s light and fresh!”
The décor at Christina’s also reflects Patsios’ preferences. The walls are covered in luxurious snakeskin-patterned wallpaper that blends beautifully with the silver color of the seats and banquettes. The napkins are folded to look like little purple tuxedo fronts, complete with white bowtie. This purple accent is also picked up in the jewel-like chandeliers and sconces and in the lovely orchids that grace the tables.
The bathroom is decorated in sophisticated black and red, with a gorgeous floral display on the vanity. The entire restaurant speaks of elegance and a welcoming atmosphere, even the large display cases that allow patrons to see the fresh salads and desserts (made in New York by Plaza Sweets or by Christina herself). While we here in the States aren’t used to this setup being a part of a fine dining establishment, Patsios hopes her customers will appreciate this European design, much as they will appreciate her culinary philosophy.
“I like simplicity,” Patsios states. “Just nice, fresh, not complicated… just eat a little bit and enjoy!”
Christina's is located at 1203 Walnut St. (formerly Dunkin' Donuts) in Newton Highlands. The phone number for the Christina's Cafe Bistro is 617-916-5532.