In an area that has more than its share of fast food restaurants, Leontios Dimosthenous has brought a breath of fresh air. Leo, as he is called, and his family started Anthi’s Family Restaurant at what was the Port Royal Tavern on Route 301 in the north end of Port Royal in February 2014.
It was probably the worst time of year to start a restaurant, but the Dimosthenous family, which includes Leo’s parents as well as siblings, persevered. As Leo Dimosthenous stated, “We had a good start for the winter.”
In their native Cyprus, just off the coast of Greece, they ran a restaurant for about 10 years. Dimosthenous commented that they left because the economy there was so very poor. Having traveled back and forth between the United States and Cyprus for a number of years, Dimosthenous was ready to bring his family here and make a fresh start. Having worked for three years in New York helped with the transition from the Greek cuisine to the American cuisine and to achieve a good balance between the two.
“The American food is much different,” remarked Dimosthenous. “People eat a lot more sandwiches over here and add spices that often hide the real taste of what is prepared. We have kept that in mind when making our menu, giving people what they like and adding classic Greek dishes that we have made for the American taste.”
American food is offered, with and it is all homemade, from the fresh hamburger used to make Greek-style hamburger patties, to the sauces that go into their pasta dishes.
In particular, Dimosthenous commented, they like to get as much fresh local food as possible. At this point, while connections are still being developed in the community, most of the local fare is the vegetables that come from the farms around the area. Leo stated that he would be very interested in some of the cheeses produced nearby, but as yet, has not found a source.
A large menu awaits customers who come in, providing a plethora of dining choices. To compliment the sandwiches offered, traditionally packaged items such as french fries, mashed potatoes, and salads, both Greek and American, are all homemade. The weekly specials range from meatloaf to stuffed peppers and offer some eye-catchers, such as Sunday’s Stifado, a Greek beef stew. According to Leo, it is not like the American beef stew, which he classifies as a soup; instead, Stifado is served over rice.
Included with the weekly specials are a side salad and garlic bread. Prices average an affordable $9.95. The desserts, again not packaged but made on the premises, include traditional Greek desserts such as baklava and tiramasu in addition to the more traditional cheesecakes and pies. An additional ingredient that adds to the atmosphere at Anthi’s is the warmth that the family displays for one another.
“Our family is very close,” stated Dimosthenous. “We get together to eat once or twice a week, with people traveling as much as an hour away to be a part of the meal. This is a tradition that is part of our culture. It is not about the food—it is about the love we have for each other. We do love food, though.”
The Dimosthenouses bring to Port Royal a love for real food, but more importantly their love for each other, which is reflected in the restaurant itself.
A warm atmosphere pervades, assisted by the structure of the building. The simple, but calming decorations are one of the first things noticed upon walking in, and make one think back to days gone by when restaurants and taverns were a gathering place for the community with hot, homemade foods to encourage the fellowship.
“We like the area and the people here and we enjoy what we are doing,” stated Leo. “Many of our regulars become like family as we get to know them.”
A breath of fresh air has come to Port Royal, providing not only the ambience, but also good, hot, homemade food.