It’s unusual for a Goa regular like this writer to spot Mariketty (a portmanteau of Maria Katarina) Grana in a space that doesn’t feature the sea as a backdrop. But we are delighted to meet her, as her warm hugs and delicious food are intact. Grana, owner of Goa restaurant Thalassa will be serving her popular Greek food at Lady Baga in Lower Parel till the year end. With Thalassa Goa currently shut for a short period (they will hopefully open by Christmas Grana tells us), this is your only option to savour her famous kebabs.
Grana has set up shop in the city twice before. A friend of restaurateur AD Singh (who owns Lady Baga), Grana’s had both good and bad experiences in Mumbai. Grana and Singh had a houseful pop-up at the now shuttered Olive at Mahalaxmi Racecourse back in 2013. Three years later in 2016, encouraged by the success of the pop-up, she launched a restaurant in Bandra with different partners that permanently downed its shutters all too soon.
They didn’t quite manage to recreate the magic. “It’s not just about the food, you have to be there,” Grana tells us. “And that applies to any restaurant,” adds Singh. The duo go a long way back. We ask them if they remember their very first meeting, while Singh’s memory eludes him, Grana is quick to remember. “You were at the table at the front. Later through the evening I got to know who you were and right at the end of the meal, you told me, ‘let’s have a talk later’. My mouth was dry when I said okay,” laughs Grana, as she calls for the Thalassa Kebab, a special dish, only made for this menu. A beef and lamb kebab, it’s served on the grilled pita and is loaded with yogurt and a spicy sauce that soaks through the delectable meat. The pop-up menu also includes cocktails—Santorini Sunrise, a rum, passion fruit and pineapple juice cocktail; Manderjito, made with fresh lime juice, mandarins and a mint; or Corfu Sunset, a spicy concoction made with Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, vodka and guava juice; among others.
Mezze options include the tzatziki, a yoghurt cucumber dip, kalamata olives, tiro-kaf-teri (spicy feta cheese dip), gianio-tiko (grilled feta topped with tomatoes, peppers, onions, red chilli pepper) all drizzled with olive oil and served with hot pita bread, garlic and olive oil. Salads include perennial favourites like the watermelon and feta, and horiatiki. Main course offers classic dishes such as pastitsio, moussakka, souvlaki, and several kinds of gyros.
As we wait for our baklava to arrive, Grana is whisked off to meet a couple who happy that Thalassa is in the city again. “You’ve got to come on bar night, my son Spiro will lead an energetic traditional Greek dance, which involves a lot of drinking and ceremonial plate breaking,” smiles Grana in parting.
The Thalassa pop-up is ongoing at Lady Baga, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel until the end of December; 49731012