Corfu’s history is unique from the history of mainland Greece. While the mainland was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, Corfu was occupied for over 400 years by the Venetians. The island of Corfu was subsequently influenced by Britain, France, and Italy, all of which had a significant impact on the food prepared on the island. Corfiot specialities feature locally-sourced ingredients found on the island such as olives, lemons, herbs, meats, fish, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. On the island, there is a strong emphasis on seafood by comparison to the mainland, much to the delight of locals and travelers alike!
Corfiot cuisine is characterized neither as spicy nor bland; instead, it is considered rich in Meditteranean flavor. Many dishes date back to early days, when chefs placed all the ingredients for a dish in a single pot and left it to simmer all day, resulting in the deep flavors so commonly found in Corfiot cuisine. Fresh oregano is perhaps the most popular herb used to season lamb and other meat dishes. Other ingredients commonly found in Corfiot dishes are basil, parsley, mint, dill, garlic, and onions.
Traditionally, lamb has been the main meat used in Corfiot cuisine. It can be found in classic dishes such as moussaka, or it can be marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, grilled, then skewered. Pork, beef, and game are also marinated, then grilled or baked and served. Chicken is most commonly grilled or roasted.
Fish is generally cooked whole, with the head and tail intact. It is often seasoned with herbs, then marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, then either baked or grilled over a hot fire. Shrimp, octopus, and squid are among the most popular seafood dishes in Corfu.
Cheese is another important element in Corfiot cuisine. Feta cheese is made from goat milk and is white and crumbly. It can typically be found spread on bread, sprinkled over salads, used in meat dishes, spread on bread, or even wrapped in grape leaves, then grilled. Kefalotiri is another popular cheese–one that is firmer in consistency and usually grated over a dish, similarly to Parmesan!
Pasta is popular in Corfu, particularly in the form of orzo, which has a distinct rice-grain shape. Thin pastry sheets called filo are used for cheese or spinach pies, and desserts such as baklava, which are filled with nuts and then drizzled in honey.
Popular drinks in Corfu include ouzo, tsipouro and retsina. Ouzo is a clear spirit derived from vine stalks, then flavored with aniseed. Ouzo and tsipouro can be taken straight as a shot, but for travelers that want a little local flavor, they can be served over ice and diluted with a bit of water! Retsina is a white wine with notes of pine resin. It is usually served chilled, and but can alternately be diluted with a drop of soda water and enjoyed as a refreshing spritzer.
Greek wines have considerably improved in recent years, and are modestly priced and readily available. Locally-produced beers are usually lager style and served cold, but many imports are also available.
Sofrito is a Venetian dish that features thin slices of fried beef in white sauce made from finely chopped garlic, parsley, white pepper, white wine, salt, and vinegar. It is generally served with rice or mashed potatoes.
Pastitsada is perhaps the most popular Corfiot dish served at formal dinners and celebrations. Either chicken or beef are prepared in a delectable tomato sauce with local herbs. There are also seafood variations that features lobster or octopus!
Bianco Codfish or tope fish is placed in a skillet with potatoes, then cooked in a rich white sauce made from finely-chopped garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and coarse black pepper.
Bourdeto is comprised of boiled sea scorpion, tope fish, or codfish fillets. It is salted generously and cooked in a spicy sauce of paprika and tomatoes and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Tsigareli is a vegetarian dish comprised of sautéed wild greens and vegetables served in a spicy tomato sauce. Recipes for tsigareli vary: some sweeten the tomato sauce with carrots, while others ignore tomato sauce entirely and opt to use potatoes and cayenne pepper for flavor.
As previously mentioned, Benitses’ cuisine is heavily influenced by the sea. Local restaurants are known for serving high-quality variations of freshly-caught and prepared fish. Prices for traditional dishes served in grill rooms and local tavernas start as low as €5 per person.
The restaurants in Benitses village are of exceptional quality. They feature moderate prices, and a wide variety of delicious dishes that will suit any palate. The following list is a compilation of Bella Vista’s recommendations of local eateries. By no means does this list include all of the restaurants in the area, however! We would be extremely pleased to hear any other suggestions, should you find a restaurant that you adore! We look forward to having the pleasure of welcoming you to Benitses to experience the local cuisine of our village!
Centrally-located in the village, Paxinos’ specialty is excellent fresh fish grilled to perfection. It also serves traditional, flavorful Greek cuisine in its comfortable, elegantly-designed atmosphere.
If a delicious, crispy pizza cooked in a traditional clay oven on a covered outdoor patio sounds perfect, La Pergola is your new go-to! La Pergola also serves several different pastas and raviolis, fresh seafood, and traditional Greek dishes.
Big Bite is a grill room that features an international menu; Greek, British, and Indian dishes are all served here! Indoor seating is available, but the beautiful view of the sea from the waterfront tables is hard to pass up! Big Bite offers friendly service and generous portions for reasonable prices.
Located directly on the beach, Posidonia is the perfect setting in which to enjoy an array of Corfiot specialties or to relax with a refreshing beverage!
Klimataria Tavern offers traditional Corfiot dishes, served meze-style.
Flower Garden is Benitses’ Chinese restaurant! In addition to Chinese cuisine, Flower Garden offers other homey comfort dishes!
Varvara is a grill room with excellent quality dishes and very reasonable prices.
We hope to have the pleasure of sharing the signature flavors of Corfu with you during your stay here in Benitses. Bella Vista Hotel & Studios are located within walking distance of a variety of tavernas, restaurants, and cafes and is sure to satisfy even the pickiest palate. Our friendly staff is always happy to make specific recommendations or reservations for our guests! We warmly welcome you to come taste Corfiot cuisine for yourself during your relaxing stay at Bella Vista!