Okto, a new upscale Greek restaurant to open downtown
A new restaurant specializing in Greek cuisine is opening in the city center this summer.
Earth + Ocean Restaurant Group, which operates other popular restaurants in Hyde Park and downtown, will introduce a new concept in Cincinnati with Okto, scheduled to open in late July.
The decision to focus on Greek cuisine began with mass surveys of Cincinnati residents, said Anthony Castelli, marketing director for E + O Restaurant.
He said they wanted to offer something that could make everyone happy, and overwhelming poll responses included fresh Mediterranean fare, with healthy vegetarian and vegan options.
The E + O owners loved the idea, Castelli said.
“We see ourselves as a family-oriented and very family-oriented catering group. Two of our owners are Greek and their heritage is important to them. There are aspects of Greek culture, celebratory and family customs and sincerity and friendliness that everyone can love, ”Castelli said.
Then began a nationwide search for an executive chef to bring the concept to life.
Castelli said they were blown away by Chef Wissam Baki, who worked in top restaurants in different countries.
Originally from Lebanon, Baki started out at a Mediterranean restaurant in Beirut, before working as a chef in Dubai, focusing on Greek and Italian cuisine.
He also opened a steakhouse in Canada before going to Miami to work at the Estiatorio Milos, a well-known Greek restaurant, and then at ASTRA, an Italian restaurant.
“We were very happy to bring him to the team,” said Castelli.
Baki said he believed in Okto’s vision and loved how the E + O team really felt like family, which sealed his decision to move to Cincinnati.
While coming up with menu items for Okto, Baki said it’s essential to work with fresh ingredients and do things in-house and offer healthy options that work for everyone.
“He blew us away with all the different options he had and the way he prepares the food. And what is important for us is to have fresh and affordable food,” Castelli said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t play it safe with the menu items, we’ll serve things like Octopus Carpaccio, but it’s going to be pushed and portrayed to you in a very accessible way.”
Octopus Carpaccio, one of Chef Baki’s signature dishes, includes finely sliced octopus marinated in a special house mix and served with pickled onions, capers, lemon oil, radishes and peas.
Castelli said presentation is a big part of enhancing people’s dining experience, so customers can also look forward to exciting options like the Flaming Saganaki, the light table side, and the boneless Branzino side. table.
The drink menu offers a wide range of Greek wines and cocktails infused with fresh honey and edible flowers. Castelli said the options range from strong and alcoholic to non-alcoholic for those who just want something fun to sip on.
He said Okto would offer fine dining in an upbeat environment where everyone can feel at home.
“We’re known for a relaxed, semi-traditional dining experience, and we like to say that at 9pm the lights go out and the music goes up. And that makes people stay longer,” Castelli said. “It’s just a great place. And if you can get some delicious food, great drinks in the process, have a great time, and feel that everyone around you is friends and family.”
E + O Group plans to open Okto from July 28 with limited bookings until the grand opening at the end of August.
Before the grand opening, those who wish to visit the restaurant will need to call the restaurant and reserve a seat.
There are also plans to open Okto for lunch with lighter options eventually.
“We’re here to provide a great experience. At E + O, the person is important to us. We get to know the names of the people, and it’s nice when people can feel special and at home in our restaurant. This is what we want to do. “