Lamb chops served with fries and tzatziki at Fillo in Cincinnati (photo by Matthew Allen)
Food + Drink

Fillo Offers a Taste of Greece in Cincinnati

Chef Evan Papanikolaou’s restaurant serves the foods he grew up, showcasing high-quality ingredients in beautifully simple preparations.

More feasible than a trip to Santorini but no less delicious is dinner at Fillo. Tucked into a quiet corner of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, the restaurant’s entrance is marked by a row of tall, temple-like columns, a subtle nod to the authentic Greek cooking found inside.

From the kitchen, into which a small window offers diners the occasional glimpse of a chef’s coat along with the comforting sense of a home-cooked meal, chef and owner Evan Papanikolaou serves the type of food he grew up eating in central Greece, where he was born and lived until his family immigrated to Cincinnati when he was 12. He opened Fillo — pronounced “fee-low,” like the phyllo dough often used in Mediterranean cooking — with his wife, Evi, to bring modern, authentic Greek cuisine to the city.

They have a seasonal menu of traditional dishes featuring fresh, flavorful ingredients prepared in the classic Greek style with modern twists. One of several small plates intended for sharing, the cheese saganaki — a slice of pan-fried vlahotyri, a type of sheep’s milk cheese — arrives sizzling in a miniature cast-iron pan with nothing but a lemon wedge for a simple yet spectacularly savory dish.

Whole grilled branzino at Fillo in Cincinnati (photo by Matthew Allen) 

Tradition reigns, too, with the moussaka, a dish Papanikolaou says is considered “the king of Greek cuisine.” It is elevated comfort food: layers of eggplant, potatoes, beef ragu and decadent bechamel crafted according to Evi’s family’s recipe.

“All of our dishes have a freshness and simplicity to them,” Papanikolaou says. “We want to showcase the main ingredient. That’s what Greek cuisine is always based on.”

This philosophy shines with the lamb chops, chargrilled to tender perfection and adorned with only a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

But to be outstanding, simplicity relies on quality ingredients, which Papanikolaou secures by using imports that come directly from Greece. These include olives, extra-virgin olive oil, cheeses, spices and some of their seafood. Even the drink menu features a curated list of Greek, Spanish and Portuguese wines, plus a pair of Greek lagers for a refreshing sip of European flavor.

Before Fillo changed to dinner service in 2023, it began as a European-style cafe specializing in traditional Greek sweets, and dessert here should not be missed. The nutty, buttery baklava, for sure — but also the delectably rich yet surprisingly light doukissa (a chocolate biscuit cake) and the ravani, a traditional syrupy semolina cake — prove that simple ingredients make these dishes worth traveling for.

1505 Race St., Cincinnati 45202, 513/873-1995,