When news dropped that Brasserie Felix, the French restaurant at 3901 Tennyson Street, had gone dark, Francophiles sobbed in their snails while restaurateurs all over town ogled the space, which resides on a stretch of pavement with a robust restaurant scene. But Telly Topakas took the prize.
Topakas, a Greek restaurant veteran who owns Jake & Telly's, a Greek taverna in Colorado Springs, moved to Denver two years ago, and eventually to the Berkeley neighborhood, just five blocks from where he's opening Estiatorio AXIOS, his second Greek restaurant. "I'd been looking pretty hard for a space, and at this space, in particular, for over a year," says Topakas. "This is a really great, European-style neighborhood that's pedestrian- and family-friendly, and that was definitely one of the biggest draws for us, and having a restaurant so close to my house is a fantastic bonus."
The restaurant, which opens Thursday, will parade the kitchen strengths of Royce Oliveira, who spent the past five years working behind the burners at Luca D'Italia and Mizuna, two and a half of them as Frank Bonanno's sous. "I had Royce cook for me, and of the pool of five candidates that I'd narrowed it down to, his food was the best -- just awesome and beautifully executed," recalls Topakas.
"I don't know a whole lot about Greek cuisine," admits Oliveira, "but it's similar to Italian flavors, and I'm learning fast." The menu, explains Topakas, will be similar to what he turns out at the store in Colorado Springs. "I'm basically taking our Colorado Springs concept and taking the quality up a notch," he says, adding that Oliveira will focus on "traditional Greek food with modern influences."
And, he notes, wine will be front and center: "There will definitely be a huge emphasis on wines, and we'll probably have the best Greek wine selection west of New York." In addition, says Topakas, the restaurant will host live Greek music on the third Thursday of each month. "I'm passionate about Greek food and Greek music, and the band that'll be playing here is from San Francisco -- and they're amazing," he promises.
AXIOS will be open seven days a week, offering one menu that's available throughout the day and evening. For more info, call 720-328-2225.