I often think that I’m not really enjoying the best that Cyprus has to offer in terms of living arrangements. Nothing wrong with my house, of course. It’s quite spacious and ideally located close to the city centre.
However, before I moved from London, I imagined what it would mean to live close to the sea. Obviously I knew Nicosia does not have a beachfront, but I was sure that I would have plenty of time to go to the beach or simply walk the promenades of Larnaca or Limassol.
Reality, however, soon kicked in and days at the sea are now confined to the weekend, as they are for most people. That said, I did not expect to fall in love with the capital’s old town, its narrow alleys, its Levantine feel and, of course, its many restaurants and taverns.
Among the many choices central Nicosia has to offer, Orfeas has a special place in my heart. Aside from the food – we’ll get there – its location is as unique and quirky as it gets.
A stone’s throw away from the Famagusta gate and the Green Line, and next to Chrysaliniotissa Park, Orfeas is not really a tavern and not really a restaurant, but an ouzeri.
Traditionally a place where to enjoy ouzo, the term does not really have an English translation, but I found that the Italian word ‘osteria’, originally a place serving wine and simple food, perfectly fits the description for an ouzeri and indeed for Orfeas.
Faithful to my expectations, the food is actually quite simple and most dishes are meat-based. The quality and the attention to small details, however, are simply stunning.
The pork and chicken souvlaki are among the best I have tried in a long time. I often find chicken souvlaki to be underwhelming and I can’t be the only one to think this. I mean, really, who orders chicken souvlaki?
Well, from now on at Orfeas, that person will be me! You make that decision when the chicken looks crispy and firm on the outside but withholds all the juices on the inside. That was exactly how it tasted at Orfeas. It’s worth visiting the place just to try it and I am not exaggerating.
That said, many other notable entries include a fantastic saganaki, pan-fired kefalotyri Greek cheese covered in phyllo and drizzled with honey, some amazing sheftalies and strapatsada, a dish I have never tried before and consists of beaten eggs with tomatos, feta, oregano and thyme.
The dish in the past was popular among the poor due to the relatively low cost of its ingredients. The one at Orfeas was a true revelation.
There’s really not much to add in terms of food. As I said before, simplicity is the key word. But, sitting under the trees in the old town centre enjoying a simple meal after a stiflingly hot day in Nicosia is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Even without the sea!
SPECIALTY Cypriot meze
WHERE 59GC+GGJ, Athinas, Nicosia
WHEN Monday to Saturday 6-11pm, Sunday closed
CONTACT 22 430524
HOW MUCH Meze for two €22