Go Now: Axios Estiatorio

October 7 2011, 11:30 AM

When three-year-old Brasserie Felix closed in July, it hardly came as a surprise. The always-promising French spot rarely delivered—aside from offering Berkeley residents something other than Mexican, Italian, or American-style eats. But two weeks ago, the space at West 39th Avenue and Tennyson Street reopened as Axios Estiatorio, and the restaurant is already making an impression.

The menu—which is headed up by chef Royce Oliveira, a Mizuna and Luca D'Italia alum—transcends the expected gyros and souvlaki, with a full range of mezze (shared appetizers), salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, entrées, pastas, and casseroles.

When I dined, I tried the impossible-to-pronounce but wonderfully light kolokithikeftedes (pan-fried zucchini and feta fritters with tzatziki and grilled pita) and pepieres yemistes, a filling fire-roasted red pepper stuffed with tabbouleh and finished with lemon tahini.

As an added bonus, meals come with a side of hummus and grilled pita. It's a nice touch akin to the complimentary chips and salsa or bread and butter at other restaurants. I noticed, however, that the hummus had a perplexing flavor—not good, not bad—just different, as if mustard or Worcestershire sauce was added into the mix. Turns out, it's the tahini paste, made with ground mustard seed, that imparts the flavor. This is Oliveira's, who has indicated he wants to modernize traditional Greek flavors, answer to the classic dip.

Hummus aside, I look forward to exploring more of the menu, and seeing where Oliveira takes Greek on Tennyson Street.

3901 Tennyson St., 720-328-2225