I finally managed to get Nicolas to sit down for a chat … I’ve known him for almost 30 years, he was in fact one of the pioneers of Napa. We reminisced about his Donkey Land days back in ’89, Underground Disco ’92, and Club Mythology in 1997, adorning the back cover of our magazine for years …
It’s pretty much on the fork, pun intended, on Nissi Avenue, probably one of Napa’s most successful traditional Cypriot Taverns with live Greek music almost every night and to be honest I wouldn’t expect anything else when Nicolas is involved. But, it’s more than just somewhere to eat, it’s a living piece of history that transports visitors back in time.
Then, I remembered this building used to be Ji Li Chinese Restaurant, circa 1986 to 2017, also Nicolas’ … so I asked Nicolas, why the transition from Chinese to Traditional Cypriot? He said, “It was partly down to staff and attaining visas but mostly for my love of Cypriot cuisine” … I asked about the decor and he said, “Naturally we had to make that traditional too so I love to visit antique shops to find old traditional things to add to the decor” … I said, don’t tell me you designed it too? I needn’t have asked.
From the outside, it looks delightful, all stone arches, crimson flowers, hanging plants galore, old cart wheels between the arches a few tables and chairs covered by really cool arched wicker canopies with rope curtains, adding a little privacy, while you can watch the world go by, complementing the facade and to the right a Pink old London telephone box, awesome for a cool selfie.
Step inside, step back in time, crazy paving and more arches, more hanging plants, the tables and chairs set in rows coz lots of people have their parties here … then Nicolas takes you into a world of Cyprus’ past, to the right step into a few rooms that are Nicos’ little museums, looking like my Yia Yia’s place, loads of antiques and knickknacks, she was a bit of a hoarder too … the stunning bar is an acrylic masterpiece of art captured forever, by a close friend Nicky … even the stairs to the loos are adorned in pictures, candles, plants, and antique trinkets.
It’s of course traditionally authentic most of the recipes are Mike’s yia yia’s, but he said “I sometimes add a modern twist” … In fact, most people go here for both their seasonal Meat and Seafood Meze because there are around 14 dishes and brilliant value for money … Naturally, you’ll also find many other traditional dishes on the menu … things like homemade Lamb Kleftiko, Moussaka, Beef Stifado, Ladies Fingers and Mama’s Meatballs, and arguably the best Steak in town cut from prime Angus beef, and cooked perfectly to your liking.
The pièce de résistance is the head chef, Mike, with an impeccable CV that includes cooking for over 3,000 people onboard cruise liners and some top hotels. Tbh, I don’t know a crazier man in the kitchen, totally in control, bearing in mind he’s preparing numerous Meze each night, apart from the traditional dishes, and everything is cooked fresh to order, except things like the moussaka and macaroni pastiche, which have to be prepared fresh each day in the morning.
There’s something for everyone including two soups that Mike makes fresh every day … Pasta, Grills, Seafood, Chef Specialities … A cool Mexican Corner, Prime Burgers, Donner Kebabs, and delicious homemade desserts … Mike said “Just wait til you try the Lava Cake”, I did, OMG!
These are Mike’s personal favourites, things like the fillet steak with your choice of sauces that are just out of this world, do try the Rockford Blue Cheese Sauce, not on the menu 😉 … Other must try’s include, the Chicken Diossione, Pork Fillet Dijon, King Prawn Flambe or my absolute favourite the Mussels Flambe, with Ouzo, a variety fresh peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh cream, an absolute tastebud explosion.
Behind the Bar
Just about anything you can imagine, from a cool selection of hot and cold teas and coffees and soft drinks, beers, ciders, and alcopops, 3 Rums, 5 Brandies and Vodkas, 6 whiskies, and gins, and loads more … and 4 Non-Alcoholic Cocktails for the drivers 😉 … There’s also a fine selection of wines from, France, Chilli. Greece and Cyprus, to complement your meal, Nicolas will be happy to make a recommendation to go with your choice of meal.
Every night from 6.30 pm, to compliment your meal, there’s Live Greek Music from their resident band, Alexandros on Bouzouki and Panayiotis on Harmonia … there’s nothing like a little bouzouki to compliment your meze and inevitably following tradition someone will get up to dance and smash a plate or two.
Akis the manager, together with the whole crew are just so dedicated to providing traditional Cypriot hospitality to the extreme and that includes Nicolas who is hands-on and often stops and has a chat, telling you about the history of Napa and Cyprus and the traditions we all still follow … Check out their Facebook reviews …. and their TripAdvisor reviews.
Open All Year
Daily: 12 noon ’til 12 Midnight
All credit cards accepted
You’ll find Old Village Tavern at 48, Nissi Avenue, Ayia Napa, it’s on the fork with Ayias Mavris Street … See Google map below …
GPS: 34.988762, 33.985334
A Step Back in Time!