In 1948, an ethnic Greek restaurateur opened a restaurant on an island near Istanbul. When, in the ’60s, people of Greek heritage were forced to leave Turkey, he moved to his ancestral homeland, and reopened the restaurant in Athens. Since 1969 that restaurant, Fatsio, has been serving politiki kouzina, “city cooking,” the food prepared by ethnic Greeks who lived in Istanbul.
Today, Fatsio’s beautifully hand-painted walls and heavy velvet curtains retain the old Constantinople vibe. Its custom logo tableware and bowtied, meticulous, and helpful if slightly stiff staff also reflect a bygone era of restaurants.
There’s a menu, which appears to be the exact same document as on opening day, but most diners head directly for the long glass display case. Now a rarity in the city, it holds dishes like salads; artichokes, carrots and potatoes braised in olive oil; eggplant topped with minced veal and béchamel; fish and seafood dishes; and slow-cooked seasonal vegetables. Simply point to what looks good, or ask for help from the staff, and your dish will be plated and served.