The food of Paros is healthy and flavorful. Octopus, squid and rock lobster are caught on the craggier parts of the island’s shoreline, while red mullet, mackerel, John Dory and sea bass are landed locally, too. As well as being grilled and fried, fish are also made into rich savory kakavia (fisherman’s soup). Two local preparations to look for are gouna, salted sun-dried fish, and salatouri, a salad of skate dressed with olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs. Horta vrasta, boiled wild greens, usually including dandelion and amaranth, is served with olive oil and is absolutely delicious and full of vitamins. Lamb and pork are the most common meats.
For adventurous diners, a local delicacy are karavoles (giant snails), which can be prepared mpourmporistoi (meaning boiled in tomato sauce with garlic), boubouristi (lightly fried with rosemary) or stifado (stewed with scallions).
In addition to the omnipresent feta — the best feta actually comes from the island of Lesbos — Parian cheeses include xinomizithra (soft, creamy whey cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk), kefalotyri (a hard, salty white cheese) and kopanisti (a spicy spreadable cheese with an intense flavor achieved by repeated kneadings during the ripening process). Kopanisti is often served with chopped tomatoes and olive oil atop dry bread in a dish called mostra.
The best local wines come from the Moraitis Winery, which is located just outside of Naoussa on the northern coast of the island and produces some 300,000 bottles a year. The Moraitis family has been making wine on Paros for more than a century and today cultivates some 70 acres of vines that are planted in a number of varieties, including Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Monemvasia. Their vineyards are located in different locations on the island, and many are farmed organically. (Interestingly, Paros was never affected by the phylloxera epidemic that afflicted European vineyards during the 19th century. Hence, instead of having been grafted, Parian vines grow on original rootstocks, many of which are very old.) Moraitis wines are served at most of the best restaurants in Paros, and you can also visit the winery to do a tasting. Two bottles worth bringing home are the Malvasia Paros 4 Years Aged, a white that was awarded a rating of 93 by Robert Parker, and the Amma, a sweet red that won a 90 rating from Parker.
Traditional Greek cooking remains popular with residents and foreign visitors alike, but the island’s dining scene has never been more diverse. Paros now has several outstanding contemporary Greek restaurants, a good sushi bar and a variety of excellent modern European restaurants, too. Here is a selection of our favorites.
This stylish bistrot à vins serves a contemporary European menu. The wine list is outstanding, and the balcony overlooking Naoussa is a great place for a meal outside on a mild evening. Expect dishes like beef carpaccio with white truffle oil, homemade pappardelle with beef, sea bass with celeriac purée, and chicken marinated with honey and chiles.
Kalispera, Naoussa. Tel. (30) 228-405-1100
This small-plates seafood restaurant in Naoussa draws a stylish international crowd who love its harborside location and impeccably fresh mezzes. Recommended dishes include marinated anchovies, pasta with shellfish sauce, and grilled rock lobster.
Mediterraneo Taverna Ouzerie
Naoussa Marína, Naoussa. Tel. (30) 228-405-3176
The name of this restaurant means “the Silence of the Fish,” and that tells you everything you need to know about the menu, which features imaginatively cooked local seafood. Have a pre-dinner drink at the adjacent Salty Bar, and then step inside the restaurant to inspect the catch of the day displayed on ice. Don’t miss the braised mussels or tuna steak if they are available.
Restaurant Sigi Ikthios
Naoussa Limáni, Naoussa. Tel. (30) 228-405-2639
This casually elegant restaurant with beautiful views over Santa Maria Beach is not only a special-occasion destination for visitors but a favorite of the Parians themselves. The menu leads off with a variety of delicious appetizers meant for sharing, including fried feta cheese doughnuts with sun-dried tomatoes, Parian-style chickpeas with rosemary, and beet skordalia with garlic and olive oil. It then segues to superlative grilled fish.
Santa Maria Beach, Naoussa. Tel. (30) 228-405-2785
Located in a quiet cobbled alleyway, this small charming contemporary take on the traditional Greek taverna offers dishes like haloumi cheese with honey, chicken fillet with dried figs, smoked cheese and almonds, and roast lamb shank with a lemon sauce.
Naoussa Limáni, Naoussa. Tel. (30) 697-487-8281
Hearty traditional Greek cooking, including dishes like angináres alá políta (artichoke stew with carrots), katsíki lemonáto (goat in lemon sauce) and arní mageireméno se sáltsa lemonioú me dentrolívano (lamb cooked in lemon sauce with rosemary), make this casual restaurant popular with both locals and expats. It is located a short walk from the Calme Boutique Hotel.
Hotel Ivi, Drios. Tel. (30) 228-404-1015
This simple open-air seaside restaurant, with a large shaded terrace, serves locally landed seafood at unbeatable prices, including octopus, squid, sea bream and mackerel. And even though it’s alarmingly inexpensive, the house white wine is very drinkable.
Taverna Il Balcone
Piso Aliki Beach, Aliki. Tel. (30) 228-409-1512
This relaxed contemporary Greek restaurant with stunning views over the village of Lefkes is an ideal address for lunch. Try simple but beautifully prepared dishes like stuffed zucchini, grilled sausage with feta, and chicken souvlaki.
Eparchiaki Odos Parikias-Marpissas, Lefkes. Tel. (30) 228-404-4070
When you’ve had your fill of Greek food, head for this surprisingly good sushi bar. Start with sea bream ceviche with sea urchin marinated in yuzu oil with sea salt, and then go for the nigiri or a specialty roll like the Ballo, which is made with crab, avocado, cucumber, salmon, spicy mayonnaise and tobiko.
Parikia Coastal Road, Parikia. Tel. (30) 228-402-8238