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Los Gatos Dio Deka > an exquisite dining experience January 27, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.

Greetings are all important. As you enter the restaurant and are led to your table on a busy Saturday night, the hostess, your waiter and one of the managing partners express a sincere welcome. Filoxenia, Greek hospitality reigns at Dio Deka.

Servers and managing partners abound, ready to assist you with your selections and to decipher the tongue-twisting Greek menu items, even though there’s an explanation of each dish in English.

But first, the wine! From a cellar of more than 1,500 bottles, in all price ranges, it’s actually made easy by the restaurant’s listing of the most popular ones. We request a dry, red wine from Greece and are brought a 2003 Nemea, a lovely robust and fruity wine with aromas of cherries, blackberries and vanilla.

My Octapodaki is a thinly sliced terrine of imported Greek octopus. Octopus is a very simple dish in Greece, often served as a meze appetizer with a glass of ouzo. Here, the addition of shaved fennel, aleppo pepper and lemon vinaigrette make a mouth-watering statement. My friend orders Astakos Avgolemono, an outstanding soup with tender pieces of Maine lobster. Central to the flavor is the famous Greek egg and lemon avgolemono fumet base, giving it a tangy, delicious flavor.

The Dolmathakia are exceptional. I have eaten countless dolmades, dolmathakia means little dolmades in my life, but these have an edge. Metaxa-braised beef short ribs and slow-cooked creamy rice are wrapped in grape leaves and finished with a truffle-scented wild mushroom citrus foam. And another appetizer called Ktipiti, whipped feta with fire-roasted red chilies, and containing just the right amount of zing, is not to be missed. Appetizers play a huge role in Greek cuisine, and the lowly taverna usually has the best offerings. Thanks to Salvatore Calisi, the executive chef who comes with a wealth of experience from working in high-end New York restaurants, Hellenic food in Dio Deka has been brought to ambrosial heights.

On another occasion I dined at the restaurant my entree was Psari Tou Chef, a fish dish selected daily by the chef. It was so wonderful that I ordered it again. This time it’s presented already filleted. Managing partner Petros Katopodis tells me that most people prefer it that way rather than Greek style with head and tail. Either way, the mesquite-grilled filet of escolar with warm new potatoes, Greek olive oil, feta and watercress has a wealth of abundant flavors and is really scrumptious. A second entree, Arni Kotsi is a slowly braised lamb shank with saffron risotto, St. George wine and Greek manouri cheese. One has no problem eating lamb as tender as this. A slight prod with a fork and it almost falls right off the bone. A mouthful of risotto with the wine-infused sauce shows off culinary expertise at its best.

Dio Deka’s Baklava is like no other baklava I have ever eaten. Served with slow-roasted banana and a medley of toasted nuts, the layers of wafer-thin phyllo pastry are enhanced by clove-spiced citrus syrup and banana gelato. This and the Mille-feuille an enormous puff pastry tower filled with cream are two very impressive desserts from a selection of about a half dozen. 

After eating and drinking in Bacchanalian style, we cross the courtyard to our beautiful suite in the Hotel Los Gatos and Spa. Blissful comfort awaits us in the form of a fireplace, robes and plump down pillows. And breakfast the next morning is served in your room or in the charming lobby. We decide to stay the whole weekend in Los Gatos, and don’t regret it for a minute.

Dio Deka, 210 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 354-7700 or www.diodeka.com
Hotel Los Gatos, 210 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (866) 335-1700 or www.hotellosgatos.com

More on Dio Deka
Dio Deka is situated in the Hotel Los Gatos in a space formerly occupied by Kuleto’s. Dio Deka takes its name from the address of the hotel: 210 Main St. Dio Deka means 2-10 in Greek, which also happens to be the area code of Athens.

The restaurant’s six managing partners, some of whom worked at Evvia in Palo Alto, are backed by VeriSign CEO Stratton Sclavos. Dio Deka opened in the fall of 2006 after about three years in the planning. Its 145-seat room is beautifully decorated with wrought iron chandeliers and a working fireplace. Wine glasses are Riedel crystal, and good cutlery and china abound.

The impressive walnut flooring does not seem to absorb sound, and the restaurant is noisy. But the atmosphere is lively, to say the least. Service is ultra-attentive. A phalanx of waiters stands ready to serve you. Dio Deka has a full bar.

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