Pathos Berkeley Greek Restaurant Nicholas Eftimiou | Tasting Table San Francisco

At Pathos, you can go big or small

Pathos may not look like a mom-and-pop restaurant, but it's a family affair.

Chef Nick Eftimiou's parents designed and built the restaurant, and his mother still bakes the house baklava ($8).

While the food is classically Greek in its inspiration, the restaurant's no anthropology exhibit, as the charcoal walls and white leather chairs give evidence. The effect: an Armani suit worn with a Versace tie and pocket square.

This is Berkeley after all, and a salad of arugula, persimmons and grated manouri cheese ($8), with rosemary perfuming its vinaigrette, fits the décor even better than a classic trio of yogurt, eggplant and cheese dips ($9).

Pathos is a restaurant where you can go minimalist–ordering grilled lamb chops with butter-poached fingerlings ($32), say, or a whole sea bass roasted in the wood-fired oven ($31).

The dining room at Pathos

Instead, we'd recommend the maximalist approach, filling the table with orektiko (aka meze), an edible collage that changes as the waiters swap out empty plates for new arrivals.

Those may include papery triangles of spanikopita ($9) that spurt melted cheese flecked with spinach, mint and dill with each bite, a tangle of crisp fried smelt ($9), or a purple curl of fire-blackened octopus ($9), its tender flesh closer in texture to a marshmallow than an old tire.

And it's a relief to dig into saganaki ($9)–salty, pan-crisped kefalotiri cheese splashed with retsina–without having to endure waiters hollering "Opa!" as they set it down.