It takes a certain amount of audacity to go boldly into the spot recently vacated by the beloved Black Cat Bistro. But the four partners behind Mati crudo + charcoal (428 Preston St.) brim with confidence, buoyed by four successful years under their belts at EVOO Greek Kitchen.
Brothers Elias and Dean Theodossiou, along with Amanda Belli, and April Miller are confident local diners will embrace their second restaurant with a Mediterranean theme, this one focused on the crudo (think raw) and charcoal (think barbecued) styles of cooking served for generations in Greece and Italy.
CityBites caught up with the four to find out what charcoal cooking is all about — and how they’re going to get the huge, Argentine-inspired stainless-steel grill into the building.
The group were looking for a second location, originally thinking they might open another branch of EVOO. “But then we thought, why not open a restaurant that complements our first — one that ties in with our Mediterranean roots but in a different way,” says Elias. It was serendipity that the former Black Cat, just one block down the street, suddenly became vacant.
Brandon Kennedy, who has been a sous-chef at EVOO since it opened, gets the opportunity to spread his wings and run his own kitchen, presiding over an oyster bar and a massive Argentinian grill on which he’ll work his magic with skewers, whole chickens, and tomahawk steaks. The grill, we’re told, folds down enough that it should (fingers crossed) just fit through the doors.
The Prep Work
For the past two or three months, the chef has been hosting weekly tastings at Elias’ home. There, Kennedy has been playing around with recipes and wine pairings, sharing his results with the owners and a rotating group of family and friends. They’ve also been testing cocktails, which will be another standout reason to stop by.
While the 55-seat EVOO has a soft look, with raw timber and tufted banquettes, 70-seat Mati will have a more sophisticated feel with a white quartz bar, marble and black granite oyster bar, and lots of sleek walnut wood and gold accents. And yet it will still feel comfortable: “When you come by, you will see us just like you do at EVOO,” says Amanda. “Mati will feel like your home.” Come summer, a 25-30 seat patio will tempt sun lovers.
“Mati” is the Greek word for eye and the mati is the evil eye, a talisman that protects the wearer from evil forces of negativity. It’s a positive symbol destined to keep evil forces at bay. In other words, bring positive vibes when you arrive to dine.
Watch for It!
If you can snag a table this Friday (Dec. 15) and Saturday (Dec. 16), you’ll have the opportunity to meet internationally renowned oyster shucker Daniel Notkins (founder of Montreal Oysterfest, Notkins restaurant, and The Old Port Fishing Company), who will help celebrate the opening and create a seafood towers.