Long-time Greek chef Paul Boukourakis comes out of retirement to open new breakfast and lunch joint and other local restaurant news

With support from his wife and daughters, Paul’s Pizza founder Paul Boukourakis is back in the kitchen at the Breakfast House on Fontaine Avenue.  Photo: Rammelkamp Foto With support from his wife and daughters, Paul’s Pizza founder Paul Boukourakis is back in the kitchen at the Breakfast House on Fontaine Avenue. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Opah!

What’s the difference between cooking for royalty and cooking for the masses? According to Paul Boukourakis, not much.

In addition to opening restaurants on three different continents, the 77-year-old native of Greece cooked for the royal family before arriving in Charlottesville and opening Paul’s Pizza in the 1980s.

“The royal family loved eating rabbit, quail, duck, lobster, etc., and these things that [American] people don’t eat often,” Boukourakis said. “So the main difference was ingredients. However, overall it was the same goal of giving people good food, regardless of money or status.”

He may not be serving up elaborate multi-course meals to the king and queen of Greece anymore, but Boukourakis is beside himself about opening the Breakfast House, a breakfast and lunch spot with Greek classics and diner favorites on Fontaine Avenue.

The Boukourakis family has owned the building (which was previously home to Game Day, Carmello’s, Ludwig’s Schnitzelhouse and Arirang Restaurant) for years, and when Boukourakis couldn’t find a tenant that was the right fit for the space, he figured why not himself? The multi-room restaurant sandwiched between Guadalajara and Thai 99 has a homey feel to it, with warm-colored walls and a few long, family-style tables among the two- and four-tops.

“At first my sister and I were hesitant just because of his age,” Paul’s daughter Mary said, noting that her dad is not the type of person to sit around and relax in retirement. “Once we realized that he would really be happy doing this, we got behind him 100 percent.”

Paul Boukourakis introduced Charlottesville to his homemade pizza in 1983 when he opened Paul’s Pizza. His daughter described it as a local staple, where UVA students and townies alike were treated as family. He’s asked on a regular basis when he’ll return to the kitchen, so finally, after 15 years away, he’s tying his apron back on. But old school fans of Paul’s may be disappointed to hear that his pizza will not be on the menu; Mary said her mother put her foot down and said “absolutely not” to another pizza joint.

“It just requires a lot of energy. He made everything from scratch,” Mary said, adding that when her father was younger, he’d work 18-hour days in the kitchen, mixing and kneading his homemade dough starting at 5am and going until close. “My father would refuse to use anyone else’s dough for his pizza. If he’s going to commit to doing something, he’s going to fully commit to doing it.”

What the menu will offer, however, is Greek favorites like pastitsio, a layered pasta dish similar to lasagna, oblong meatballs in red wine sauce, gyros and French toast made with Greek sweet bread. Plus classic diner grub like breakfast platters, subs and burgers. Mary said the pizza may appear every now and then as a special, but she’s hoping her dad takes it a little easier this time around.

“We’re doing all the behind-the-scenes work so he can just be in the kitchen, which is where he’s happiest,” she said.

Poetic justice?

Quoth the Raven: Nevermore Poe’s.

Responding to a late 2014 legal challenge, Poe’s Public House owner Joe Fields has changed his bar’s name to Eddy’s Tavern, A Poet’s Tavern. Fields purchased No. 3 on the Corner in May and said he spent considerable time and money rebranding the restaurant.

The trademark challenge came from Poe’s Tavern in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and Atlantic Beach, Florida. The elder Poe’s co-owner Riddick Lynch told C-VILLE Weekly in an e-mail that he and his partners believed Fields’ restaurant’s “name, logo, signage and concept” was “likely to cause confusion between the two restaurants.”

After receiving Lynch’s cease-and-desist letters in early November, Fields was advised by his attorney to change the name, despite the lost revenues on signage and other marketing efforts.

Love fest

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which only means one thing—dinner reservations are going to be even more of a pain to get. We can’t guarantee that there will still be any tables available by the time you read this, but thought we’d try to help out anyway.

Local spots offering prix fixe menus for Valentine’s Day include some downtown staples like Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar (dance party upstairs after dinner!), Maya, and Red Pump Kitchen. There’s also Rocksalt in Stonefield, the Belmont favorite tavola, and Boar’s Head Inn.

Also check out the local wineries’ calendars; Veritas is taking reservations for a five-course wine dinner, and White Hall will offer a chocolate and wine pairing.

For something a little different, check out Blue Moon Diner’s eighth annual five-course bacon dinner—because nothing says romance like half your weight in bacon.