Location: Oia, Santorini
There comes a point when eating in a fancy restaurant loses its charm. Of course, it’s wonderful to have fantastic food and amazing wine, but I feel as though there are so many good restaurants in the world that can offer this that it’s not enough to make it a memorable event. For me, it really takes something extra special to stand out. I’m all about experiences at the moment; experiences that allow you to get lost in your surroundings, to make friends with the locals, to taste your favourite food cooked in a different way. We were lucky enough to have one of these evenings on our recent trip to Santorini at Alios Ilios, conveniently located at the very hotel we were staying at – Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites and Spa. For more info on this beautiful hotel, check out my previous article here.
We were booked in at Alios Ilios on our final night in Santorini and it perfectly summed up everything that we had loved so far on our trip – delicious fresh food, friendly locals and the most beautiful sunsets I personally have ever seen in my life. We got all of these things at Alios Ilios, which literally translates to the sun that rises and falls in the sea. The restaurant overlooks the main pool deck at Santo Maris for breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the beautiful sunset that Santorini is so well-known for. Following the laid back vibe of the hotel, Alios Ilios is a smart yet casual affair, with tables both indoors and out. Naturally, outdoors offers the most spectacular views however there is more to discover inside. The ceiling of the interior is adorned with patterns of the Archimedean spiral that depict foods and professions of the Bronze Age.
We arrived at our table just in time for sunset and watched the burning red sun set over the sea. What made this experience even more magical was the grand piano that had been placed right in front of the main pool. The pianist played beautifully throughout the evening and it was the perfect addition to such a stunning location. After being welcomed by the friendly staff, we began with some cocktails that were mixed by their own bar expert. We opted for the à la carte menu, however the restaurant does offer a tasting menu with optional wine pairing.
The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Vasilis Katsikas and his culinary team who were kind enough to have me in the kitchen to watch them work. The attention to detail and meticulousness of the staff was quite something to watch. But don’t just take my word for it – Alios Ilios was included among the best restaurants in Greece in the ‘Greek Restaurant Cuisine Awards’. The flavours are inspired by a Creative Greek Cuisine concept of philosophy that is in line with the decor both inside and out.
Now for the food itself – a true feast of Greek gastronomy with ingredients like fava beans, figs, lentils, tomatoes, artichokes and of course a healthy dose of olive oil. Fresh ingredients are sourced from the depths of the Aegean Sea, all-over Greece and Crete, as well as their very own garden. I particularly enjoyed the use of these fresh ingredients, which were made into luxurious purees and creams without the use of dairy. As you probably know I have quite a few dietary restrictions including dairy and gluten and they were more than able to accomodate. We started with octopus for our first course, grilled and cooked with fava beans, capers and onions. For main it was more sea food for us. We shared the ‘A la Polita’ – delicious sea bream cooked with those signature artichokes and the ‘Seafood’ dish which had so many tasty items on the plate. A delightful mix of shrimps, octopus, sea bass, squid and lobster. Portion sizes were generous. For dessert, we were so full that we just went for a fruit platter to share between us. Throughout the meal we were taken care of by the restaurant’s very own sommelier Dimitrios, who happily educated us on the wine that we should be drinking. If you are so inclined, the island has many options for visiting a vineyard. Since we have done so many of these vineyard tours over the years, we let Dimitrios be our guide. We went for Assyrtiko Monemvasia, a delicate white wine scented with citrus and tropical fruits, along lemon blossom aromas. We truly left the restaurant with our bellies and hearts full.
If you are travelling to Oia, Santorini soon, I hope that you have found this review helpful and that you get to experience a beautiful evening out at Alios Ilios – where the sun rises and sets in the sea. Reservations can be made via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or by phone on +30 22866 00630.
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