Updated: Mar 15, 2020
My first ever desire to go to Greece when I was little was triggered by the 1988 epic film by Luc Besson "THE BIG BLUE" ("Le Grand Bleu" - original title) that I saw on the big screen at a now bygone movie theater in Papeete, Tahiti, with my then bff Nathalie. The cinematography was spectacular, the score spellbinding, and the plot, well a romantic drama adventure that mostly takes place in Amorgos, Greece, based on real-life iconic freediver athletes, Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca. That film mesmerized me for months and got me to one day go to the same island in Greece, where people are happy and live simply, and where drama is practically non-existent, and life a big fat greek vida, filled with joy and other free-spirited children like me! I was also touched by the love story between dolphin and man since part of my childhood was playing with dolphins in the lagoons of Moorea, French Polynesia. I dreamt of the island of Amorgos for years and fantasized for years of how my life running and hiking its Homeric hills and cliffsides would be the ultimate life... until I realized, oh wait, I pretty much already lead a big fat Greek life here in my native islands of Tahiti!
Maybe it's nostalgia, but an unprecedented wistfulness took over me when I entered Calissa in Southampton, NY! It took me back to those childhood dreams of Greece and my short time there at Calissa transported me through years of dreams yearning to finally make it to Amorgos. So that's it, thanks to Calissa, I'm finally going to make that trip (and it's time to start shopping for swimwear)!
Sunday brunch - Never able to go to Calissa in Southampton last season, I was fortunate to be able to go before the busy season. James Mallios and Kylie, co-owners, were busy still getting things ready for the almost sold-out Memorial Weekend crowd (not counting the Avenue Magazine event on the 26th); they however took the time to pause and welcome us (see James’s blurb on the full blog coming up). Tania, manager, and Israel gave us a tour of the restaurant which lacked no wowing and kept bringing me back to scenes from The Big Blue.
The restaurant itself reverberates Mykonos-inspired vibes, entering the restaurant welcomed by the bar crew to the left and your host to the right, you step into an eclectic blend of French auberge and classicistic gloss. It’s warm, balanced, tranquil, welcoming. You’re here and you know you’re going to have a fabulous meal and forget all about the tapestry of time and its ephemeral requirements. While the pupu lounge and the outdoor patio were still being perfected for the rest of the summer, Israel also showcased his unparalleled culinary prowess and outstanding professionalism; he served us their most requested signature cocktails and the food started parading to our table with Mediterranean aromas wafting around in the air: lemon donut balls, grilled asparagus with green almonds, their signature brunch brisket, the Calissa burger, the dorade en papillotte, and their house made blood orange and melon sorbet. My personal favorite... ALL OF IT!!! 🤤 Cocktails? We sampled the Bella, the Lyra, and the Calissa Spritz. My fave - the Bella (their own version of a Moscow mule).
Et voilà our experience of Calissa Hamptons was a most delightful brunch. It is bar-none one of the best places to brunch and/or dine in the Hamptons! Calissa and crew, we love you! Keep on making us live an idyllic big fat Greek experience!
How about you? What Greek restaurant do you recommend, where ever you are?