As Boston continues to evolve and grow, there are fewer and fewer restaurants in this city that I would consider real “neighborhood joints” — where the regulars live just up the street, and there is a sense of camaraderie among patrons and staff. Desfina in East Cambridge really epitomizes this atmosphere for me, and was one of my favorite places during the couple years I lived in the neighborhood.
Desfina is the only Greek restaurant I’ve come across in the Boston area that really has the feel of a traditional Greek taverna. When you walk in, you aren’t greeted by a host, but simply invited to sit down wherever you desire. The restaurant is family-owned and the food is simple, delicious, and tastes homemade. White paper covers the tables, and exposed brick and wooden Greek-style columns give the dining room a cozy and inviting feel.
My favorite menu item is the Horiatiki — or Village Salad — the traditional salad of feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olives, and onions with olive oil and oregano. This is how it’s usually made in Greece, though Desfina also offers a “Greek Salad” as it’s listed on the menu, which contains the lettuce that many are accustomed to. If you’re a meat eater, try the lamb kebab, which comes with a salad and one side. Be sure to also try some Greek wine; my favorite is the red made from the Agiorgitiko grape. You’ll be sure to leave Desfina with a full stomach and a wide smile.