Kyriaki Serves Up Authentic Greek Cuisine
Homemade recipes, Greek wine and beer and a new outdoor patio are enticing local diners.
Kyriaki, the Greek word for Sunday, is also the name of Barrington’s newest ethnic restaurant.
“In Greece, Sunday is a day when families gets together and unwind from the work week with hearty dinners and lively conversation,” owner Elias Giannakopoulos said. Giannakopoulos runs the restaurant with his wife, Georgia, and three daughters, Kelly, Patty and Nikoleta. “We wanted our restaurant to be a place where people feel relaxed and satisfied every day of the week.”
Indeed, ducking into Kyriaki, 301 W. Northwest Highway, Barrington, is a quick transport from the thoroughfare’s strip malls to cool Grecian comfort. Lyrical Greek music, heavy wooden tables, pillow-strewn benches, all create a sense of European hominess.
“This restaurant is our home,” Giannakopoulos said. “We hang out here and talk to our customers. It’s a great way to get to know them and make sure they’re enjoying their meal.”
After many years in the construction business specializing in restaurant design, Giannakopoulos bought the restaurant (a shuttered gyros take-out) as a gift for Georgia.
“This place has been a dream of Georgia’s for many years. She loves to prepare authentic Greek food and does most of the cooking for the restaurant. My uncles have owned Greek restaurants in Chicago so it’s always been a part of our lives.”
With his background in design, Giannakopoulos completely reconfigured the space to accommodate casual sit-down dining. Kyriaki opened in March to a steady flow of customers.
Giannakopoulos hails from Sparta, in the southern part of Greece, while Georgia is from the more centrally located city of Tripoli.
“Greek food differs depending on the region. Georgia and I have it covered from both sides of the country. Her people focus on lamb, and the Spartans specialize in fish, since we’re closer to the sea.”
Kyriaki’s menu embraces the Greek’s diverse palate. There are dolmathes — grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb, beef, rice, spices and herbs, topped with an egg lemon sauce; and baby goat giovesti — braised chunks of goat with imported rosamarina served in a clay pot. The restaurant’s offerings provide diners with elegantly presented and sumptuously prepared choices.
On a typical workday, Elias and Georgia arrive at the restaurant at 6 a.m. to begin food preparation. Georgia cooks the main dishes and prepares desserts, while Elias assists with prep work. All their dishes are handmade with authentic Greek ingredients, so preparations can take hours.
“In order to ensure the best quality, we do things ourselves,” Giannakopoulos said. “Even our sausage is handmade. We buy the meat from specialty wholesalers and bring it to a local sausage grinder. It’s the only way to be certain that the ingredients are high-quality.”
While the Giannakopoulos family could have opened their restaurant anywhere, they chose Barrington for the stability of the community.
“Chicagoans are fickle diners,” Giannakopoulos said. “They’re often after the latest food trend. We knew Barrington residents would appreciate traditional Greek food with an emphasis on quality.”
Giannakopoulos’ bet on Barrington has paid off. Diners pack the restaurant on weekend nights, and a steady flow of traffic streams though during the week.
“Business is good, especially since we got our liquor license and built the patio. People love Greek food and wine on a warm summer night.”
Kyriaki, 301 W. Northwest Highway, Barrington. Phone: 847-842-7005.