An upscale restaurant coming to North Naples next year intends to transport diners to a stunning Mediterranean home in the Greek islands.
Estia, planning to transform the recently shuttered space of Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill, will be the first in Florida for the Pashalis family, which operates a restaurant group that includes three Estia Greek-Mediterranean restaurants in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area. Siblings Anastasia and Gus Pashalis are part of the Greek family involved in the Naples expansion. “My brother and I are first generation,” Anastasia Pashalis said. “My parents and uncle immigrated to the United States in the 1970s.”
“We are very excited and look forward to serving everyone in the Naples area,” she said. “The décor and food will make you feel like you are at a Greek island. The interior will be light and airy. We will offer whole fish simply grilled along with lamb, which is eaten often in Greece.”
The family fell in love with the beaches and the scenery of the Naples area when they visited two years ago. “We saw there wasn’t a Greek restaurant like ours and decided to start looking for restaurant spaces,” Pashalis said. “We also have a lot of customers from our current restaurants that have vacation homes in Naples. They would always ask us, ‘When are you going to open in Florida?’ Well, the time has finally come!”
The fine-dining restaurant, designed to elevate traditional Greek fare beyond a casual affair, is targeted to launch in the fall of 2023. Expect wines from throughout Greece and a cocktail program featuring fresh juices and native Greek spirits such as mastiha, Metaxa and ouzo.
Donna Goldstein, who splits her time between homes in Naples and Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, says Estia is one of her favorite dining spots. “You walk in and you feel like you’re in Greece,” said Goldstein, who twice has visited the European republic. “It’s upscale and homey and the food is phenomenal. It’s authentic.”
Estia’s guests are welcomed by whitewashed brick walls with rich woods and warm lighting. Whole seafood is displayed on ice near the dining area. “I feel like I’m in an old Greek taverna,” said Goldstein, who thinks the dining concept will do well in Naples, which she visits seasonally from January through May. “We’re super excited to have them open in Naples. Naples needs an amazing Greek restaurant and this is it!”
The restaurant specializes in whole grilled fish flown in from the Greek islands, the shores of Morocco, Tunisia and Portugal, and procured from independent fishermen. “Think octopus, fresh fish, lamb chops, homemade specialties like moussaka and pastitsio. No gyros here,” Goldstein said. “They make a whole sea bass like a branzino. They woodfire it. Their lamb is amazing.“
Estia Chips—thinly sliced eggplant and zucchini lightly fried and served with tzatziki dipping sauce—are one of Pashalis’ personal favorites on the menu. “They are addicting and you can’t eat just one,” she said.
A description of Estia restaurants gives an idea of renovations planned inside the North Naples venue on a pond with water features on the northern edge of Vanderbilt Beach Road just west of Airport-Pulling Road. “The homelike ambiance is accentuated with an indoor courtyard, complete with whitewashed walls, a deep blue ceiling and a living olive tree that symbolizes the Greek goddess Athena’s gift to the citizens of Athens,” according to Estia’s social media. “We used materials such as hand-chiseled Jerusalem limestone floors, hand-woven rugs, vaulted ceilings, antiqued stucco walls, wood plank floors and exposed wood beams to evoke the traditional atmosphere. A series of dining areas feature rustic farm tables, dark wood chairs with beige cushions and dining nooks with upholstered banquettes.”
Aegean Estiatorio Inc. purchased the 10,500-square-foot restaurant and bar space from PDKN Restaurant Group, the Plantation-based parent company of Bokamper’s, which permanently closed its North Naples venue last month after operating it for more than a decade. PDKN, operated by former Miami Dolphins player Kim Bokamper and three other partners, sold the Vanderbilt Galleria condominium unit at 8990 Fontana Del Sol Way for $4,675,000. The real estate transaction was negotiated by Patrick Fraley and David Stevens of Investment Properties Corp. of Naples.
Built in 2001, the nearly 300-seat restaurant property opened as the Sanibel Steakhouse before becoming The Keg Steakhouse & Bar in 2008 and Bokamper’s in early 2011. Bokamper’s restaurant group purchased the commercial condo for $2.65 million in June 2010. IPC’s Stevens also handled that transaction.