Café Nostos opens near Downtown Berkeley

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Ketki Samel/Staff

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Café Nostos, a cafe featuring a variety of authentic Greek pastries, opened its doors for business near Downtown Berkeley on Wednesday.

The cafe is located at 1930 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Co-owner Yiannis Samaras anticipates the grand opening will be sometime this September. The exact date, however, has not been decided.

“We hope to give the public here a taste of the Greek experience with the food,” Samaras said.

The name of the cafe, Nostos — which comes from Ancient Greek — means “homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey,” according to the cafe’s website. According to Samaras, the idea of the name came from his support for Greeks in the United States, many of whom are immigrants and who may be missing their home country.

The people craving a taste of their home country of Greece can find a small part fulfilled from the food at this cafe — quite literally.

The Greek delicacies served here come directly from Greece through the Greek pastry company Alfa, which co-owner Lili Grigoriou-Samaras described as “the best product in Greece.” Grigoriou-Samaras added that these Alfa pastries can only be found at this cafe, Washington, D.C. and Greece.

Greek pastries such as bougatsa — a crisp, custard-filled phyllo sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar — and Kozani olive swirl — a type of Greek street food made of authentic Greek feta cheese filling and Kalamata olives — can be found at the cafe.

“It’s homey food; it makes people feel good. You cannot find Greek pita like this anywhere in the Bay Area,” Grigoriou-Samaras said.

Besides specialty Greek pastries, the cafe serves common American pastries like croissants and scones from Semifreddi’s, a bakery in Alameda; coffee from Illy, described as “top of the line” by Samaras; and paninis.

Adonis Garefalakis, a customer and Oakland resident, said the cafe’s staff was “friendly” and that the cafe had an ambience that was “really enjoyable.” He added that the cafe is going to be his new hangout spot in Berkeley.

“(Among the savory pastries), I really loved the Kozani olive swirl. It’s very unique — never had anything like that before,” Garefalakis said.

Garefalakis expressed delight at the fact the cafe marinates and cooks the chicken in-house for their sandwiches and salads.

The decor of the cafe holds an overall earthy tone — the green of the walls was selectively chosen by Grigoriou-Samaras, as it was a reminder of the olive tree leaves back in Greece.

Peter Fikaris, the owner of The Butcher’s Son, a nearby business, said Café Nostos “sounds like a very interesting place,” and said he would like to check it out.

“We want to be friends with everyone. We see this cafe as a neighborhood cafe,” Grigoriou-Samaras said.

Contact Robin Hyun at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @robinnhyun.