Restaurant Profile: Giorgio

When it comes to the Triangle-area dining scene, Giorgios Bakatsias is considered among the most innovative and enduring local restaurateurs. The recent opening of Giorgio in Cary, his latest destination, adds Mediterranean cuisine to a culinary resume that already includes French, Asian and American, to name a few.

Giorgio represents a turning back of the clock for Greek-born Bakatsias (pronounced bah-kah-SHAH), who previously ran popular Cary eatery Café Giorgios in the 1980s. “It wasn’t a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ I returned to Cary,” Bakatsias said during a recent exclusive conversation with Cary Magazine. “We have been delighted by the way people have embraced and welcomed us as the new neighborhood restaurant.”

To watch Bakatsias interact with his staff and patrons is to observe someone remarkably poised, gracious and passionate about serving others. Perhaps no one is better positioned to revitalize the 7,000-square-foot Preston-situated locale notorious for short-lived eateries, most recently a seafood restaurant.

“I’m convinced this is the perfect freestanding location for a successful venture, and I absolutely love this building,” Bakatsias said. “Our goal is to provide quality food, excellent service and a great value, and our guests seem to really appreciate that.”

Sharing his passion is award-winning Executive Chef Ricky Moore, a onetime U.S. Army cook, graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and former contestant of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. A native of New Bern, N.C, Moore brings a steadfast dedication to serving up bold, healthy and distinctive offerings.

“Our commitment is to use the freshest, simple ingredients, drawing on flavors from Greece, Italy, Spain and France,” Moore said, adding that he endeavors to find local provisions whenever possible. “We constantly strive to be resourceful in the kitchen and responsive to what the guests want. Ultimately, we’re all about exceeding the guests’ expectations time and again.”

Not surprisingly, Giorgio’s striking décor is awash with vibrant-hued walls, dark wood floors and warm, contemporary light fixtures. Added touches like reclaimed wood tables, white leather chairs and surrealistic artwork further showcase Bakatsias’ voguish flair. “I wanted the restaurant’s ambience to capture the essence of the Mediterranean region,” he said.

An open, multilevel dining room, spacious full-service bar area, lounge/sunroom and several private occasion rooms offer patrons plenty of options to enjoy. “The restaurant has various zones so the guests can have a relaxing experience,” Bakatsias explained.

As for the bill of fare, a mouth-watering trio cheese plate featuring feta, aged Manchego and Mahon makes for a great starter. Small plate options include the savory spetzofai, a sausage-based stew with kale, cannellini beans, garlic and red pepper as well as sea scallops a la plancha, which is cooked on a hot seasoned griddle and served with fennel citrus salad.

“The a la plancha dishes are cleanly executed, very healthy and don’t contain much fat,” Chef Moore said. “We don’t use any butter or cream whatsoever during preparation.”

So, what about the main course selections? Look no further than the turnip-, apricot- and pomegranate-infused glazed lamb shank; the chermoula spiced salmon with chickpea and leek ragout; and the seared flat-iron steak with Spanish ham, rapini, carrots and Rioja wine sauce. Another winning selection: vegetarian-friendly wild mushroom ravioli with rosemary, shallots, artisanal cheese and a sweet wine reduction.

The restaurant’s wide-ranging wine list contains about 100 bottles featuring abundant varietals from California, France, Italy and Australia, among others. With more than two dozen labels available by the glass, choices abound for the casual consumer as well. Giorgio also offers eight beers on tap, from Blue Moon and Yuengling to Fat Tire and Sierra Nevada.

Weekly specials include $4 specialty cocktails on Tuesdays, with $5 wines by the glass on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, $6 tapas are available at the bar.

Live music plays in the bar area Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 9 p.m. “The later the evening gets, the more festive the mood becomes,” Bakatsias said with a laugh. “We want to become the place where people gather to have a great time.”

Open for lunch Monday through Friday, Giorgio offers dinner service Monday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended.

4300 N.W. Cary Parkway, Cary
(919) 650-2137

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