Late this fall, a unique, open-flame Greek restaurant called Bar Vlaha is coming to 1653 Beacon St. in Brookline under the care of chef Brendan Pelley, who has taken on the role of culinary director for newly formed restaurant group Xenia Greek Hospitality.
At his Pelekasis pop-up in 2015 and 2016, Pelley served “modern Greek” food, but the chef told Boston Magazine that at Bar Vlaha he’ll hew closely to the traditional, rustic cuisine of Greece’s Vlachs. This is an ethnic minority group of nomadic shepherds with their own language, Aromanian, which is also another name for the Vlach people. Accordingly, Pelley, who has Greek heritage himself, spent some time this summer in the mountains of central Greece researching Vlach culinary traditions.
Bar Vlaha may be the first restaurant in the United States, and certainly the first in the Boston area, to draw inspiration so directly from this culture, although Xenia says that the Vlachs laid the foundations of what the world now knows as Greek cooking, so the menu may not be completely unfamiliar. At Bar Vlaha, look out for everything from a savory feta pie called alevropita and a sweet custard pie called galopita to “live-fire-grilled rainbow trout alongside plenty of slow-cooked meats, from braised wild boar to spit-roasted whole lamb,” Boston Magazine reports.
Pelley is also helping Demetri Tsolakis and Stefanos Ougrinis, the restaurateurs behind Xenia, refine and expand the rest of their portfolio, which includes Back Bay’s spellbinding cocktail bar Hecate and Greek wine bar Krasi, where Pelley has already added menu items including a signature dish from his Pelekasis days: the 100-layer spanakopita. (And in reciprocal fashion, Hecate beverage director Lou Charbonneau will team up with Krasi wine director Evan Turner to handle the drinks at Bar Vlaha.)
The group also plans to open more locations of fast-casual chain Greco, which currently sells gyros and loukoumades from four Boston shops, and expand Agora, a Greek market at Greco’s Seaport location that sells hundreds of retail items including its own private-label olive oil.
Xenia is even teasing another new restaurant for late 2023, ensuring plenty of exciting Greek food to come. Keep an eye on Bar Vlaha’s progress on Instagram.