Born to a ship cook father, celebrity chef Lefteris Lazarou was born with fish on the brain. After helping out at his floating kitchen at a tender age, he spent seven years honing his talent on cruise liners, where he got the chance to sample different cultures and experiment with different cuisines. Despite his deep respect for the sea, he felt that he had experienced enough storms to last him a lifetime, and decided to build his own marine paradise on dry land in 1987. At the time, creative cooking and seafood rarely crossed paths, so once he started serving up crayfish moussaka and basil pesto squid on a potato nest, fame was almost instantaneous. His fish philosophy was unprecedented in Greece, where 98% of restaurant menus were dominated by meat; Europe didn’t differ entirely either. His restaurant Varoulko, named after a seafaring verse, was a true revolution. Located in Piraeus, where Lazarou was born and raised, it broke every rule in the book and soon began attracting celebrities and country leaders from every corner of the earth. Lazarou himself has fond memories from a visit by Nelson Mandela, but he’s equally happy to welcome young people on a daily basis, who are simply thrilled at the opportunity to sample his cooking. Varoulko won its first Michelin star in 2002 and hasn’t missed a single year in between, but that was long after Lazarou had already conquered everyone’s heart with his ability to turn modest ingredients into a true work of art.
After moving his restaurant downtown for an entire decade, the former Greek Master Chef Judge returned to Piraeus in 2014 with Varoulko Seaside, a breezy venue with a more inclusive philosophy. Maintaining Lazarou’s core values, the new location does "comfort gourmet" lunch and fine dining, featuring pared-down midday options at a surprisingly affordable price point. Dinner sees a return to the chef’s more sophisticated preparations, both a tribute to his remarkable past (the basil pesto squid is still on the menu) and the diversity of Greek products that beautifully complement the inevitable stars of the show, i.e. the fish and seafood. The view of the sailboats from the stunning Mikrolimano marina - Varoulko Seaside is quite literally on the water - is the final component for an inherently Greek and thoroughly unforgettable experience!