THE PROPRIETOR of two failed but nevertheless noteworthy “Onassis” restaurants—one in Philly and one in Cherry Hill, NJ—Thanassi Konidaris, married to an heiress of a sizable wealth, is still making his mark in that area with an establishment he has had for decades called Zesty’s (4382 Main St., Philadelphia, PA; 215-483-6226).
He has now been transformed into a culinary philosopher who adheres to Homer’s words in the Odyssey, as he displays on the first page of his menu the words recited by folks for thousands of generations: “For myself,” the quotation goes, “I declare that there is no greater fulfillment of delight than when joy possesses a whole people, and banqueters in the halls listen to a minstrel as they sit in order due and by them, tables are laden with bread and meat, and the cup bearer draws white wine from the bowl and pours it into the cups. This seems to my mind the fairest thing there is.”
Words worthy of the establishment they represent! Not only words, but a menu as well worthy of a chef the caliber of Thanassi. It isn’t only Greek, it’s much more than that, so we must call it Mediterranean. Thanassi created what he calls a Greco-Roman fare, and not, mind you, by fusion, but by having Greek dishes side by side with those of the Italian cuisine, so his patrons would have a wide selection of choices.
As he affirms on the front page of his menu, he decided to emphasize fish and seafood in his establishment, with a commitment to absolute freshness and exceptional quality. His Greco-Roman cuisine “consists of all elements forming the basis of the Mediterranean diet,” and he complements that diet for the benefit of every oenophile of discriminating taste, with a vast selection from his collection of prize-winning Greek wines. He even thanks his patrons at the end of his statement in three languages: English, Greek and Italian.