Greece: Restaurant Z

Planet Berlin: Tradition meets modernity

Taking the plunge

In business for over 30 years, Georgios Chrissidis' culinary institution opened in 1987 in the popular Bergmann Kiez restaurant precinct. At the time, the budding restaurateur finally broke off from his psychology studies and opened the Mediterranean-themed eatery with a friend. Z stands for "Zoi," or "Life" in Greek, and is a reference to the eponymous film by Constantin Costa-Gavras.

Planet Berlin: Tradition meets modernity

Transcending cliches

Restaurant Z's interior eschews Greek eatery cliches, with Chrissidis removing the dated blue-and-white interior and going for exposed brick walls, natural wood chairs and red checkered tablecloths. The interior was inspired by the Jewish quarter in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Planet Berlin: Tradition meets modernity

Contemporary cuisine

The Restaurant Z menu moves with the times. Traditional dishes are combined with contemporary flavors: In addition to traditional gyros and moussaka, options like monkfish with Tyrol bacon or lavender panna cotta give the menu a modern twist. Unlike most Greek restaurants, there are also a host of vegetarians options.

Planet Berlin: Tradition meets modernity

Reservations recommended

The corner restaurant also has a few outdoor tables to enjoy some al fresco dining, while a reservation at the popular restaurant is recommended for the busy evening shift. For private parties, a separate room for up to 30 guests is also available. In addition, Restaurant Z offers a catering service that offers a host of Mediterranean specialties.

While still a student, Georgios Chrissidis opened Restaurant Z in Kreuzberg's Bergmannkiez in 1987, offering traditional Mediterranean cuisine with a contemporary touch — and a wide selection of wines from his homeland.

Kreuzberg restaurateur Georgios Chrissidis sees his menu as modern Mediterranean cuisine, saying: "Vegetarian dishes have become more important and regional products play a greater role now." Of course his Greek-inspired Restaurant Z also serves traditional fare such as lamb, fish and octopus. He is particularly proud of his selection of Greek wines, many of which are organically grown. Georgios Chrissidis regularly visits the small Greek vineyards he works with, sharing his own recommendations: "I told the winemakers they should concentrate more on classical Greek grapes. White Assyrtiko and red Xinomavro are some of the best in the world."

His guests are curious and open to trying new things, and, when it comes to the wines, "they now have more sophisticated tastes," he says. "Berlin's culinary horizons have expanded dramatically over the years. And if you don't become more than the little Greek place around the corner, you won't be in business for long." Georgios Chrissidis is an expert in that field; he's been running his restaurant in Bergmannkiez, a popular residential quarter, since 1987.

Greece: Restaurant Z - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

A fateful decision

Back when he opened the restaurant together with a friend, he was studying psychology. "Kreuzberg was a student district. We used to sit up all night eating, drinking and talking," recalls Georgios Chrissidis, who opted out of the mandatory military service in his country and moved to Berlin in 1983. "And the next morning we were back in class." Eventually Georgios Chrissidis resigned himself to the fact that he couldn't do both anymore – and he chose the restaurant. Along the way, he replaced the antiquated blue and white interior with naked brick walls and red tones.

The makeover was inspired by a visit to the former Jewish quarter in Thessaloniki. "There I visited some renovated warehouses, and I liked them so much that I decided to style the restaurant the same way." The life of a professional restauranteur can be so multifaceted. But what Georgios Chrissidis likes best of all is having the opportunity to speak to people from all around the world.

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Author: Ludwig Peters

Friesenstr. 12
10965 Berlin-Kreuzberg