With a coastline built of volcanic rock and a terrain that remains fairly wild and lush, North Zakynthos feels delightfully undiscovered. Particularly up in the hills, where the lasting echoes of local traditions have left a peaceful way of life so rare in the age we live in.
Down by The Club and the nearby Port, the vibe remains as laid back as ever, and the roads rarely hear the roar of quad bikes rented by tourists from the southern part of the island. From the hills to the coast, there’s a good selection of tavernas for your fix of local fare. But if, like us, you live for a long lunch, there’s only one place outside The Club that’s worth venturing to – Mikro Nisi.
Overlooking a small cove where the water’s brighter than a blue cocktail. Mikro Nisi feels like a treehouse. It’s a short drive from The Club or the restaurant’s staff will pick you up in a speedboat and whizz you back again. When you arrive, you’ll be helped on to the land before climbing a wooden staircase to the upper deck where Nico Stoufis, the manager, and his family will greet you.
Built in 1995 upon the foundations of a fisherman’s house that had been destroyed in an earthquake in the 50s, the Stoufis’s intentions were to create a summer retreat for themselves. They soon spotted people coming to the cove to enjoy picnics by the water, and in response, transformed their home into a welcome spot for all to enjoy lunch.
Mikro Nisi offers a daytime kind of ‘romantic’; the stuff of vintage film cameras and old travel mags. It’s decked with little touches like orange buoys hanging from the staircase, tables with displays of shells built into them, and posters of the island peeling off the walls. It’s twee, delightful, and unpretentious, but fundamentally, the family’s hard work and warm hospitality make the experience.
Nico will try to give you a menu, but it’s best to let him take the reigns with ordering. Fresh fish comes grilled with lemon drizzled all over. He also recommends taramasalata with pita bread followed by seafood spaghetti. There’s the usual parade of of local delights from spinach pie to saganaki (fried cheese), that can’t and shouldn’t be avoided. Homemade yoghurt cake is a house speciality and if you want to go the extra mile, ice cream is worth ordering purely for its display factor.
Once the eating is over, coffee and, likely more wine is an option. Those with strong stomachs might take a dip in the cove and those less keen, can dangle their toes in the water. Niko and his team will take you back to The Club whenever you like.
His speedboats can also be rented by Peligoni guests. There’s a choice of many different engines and boat sizes and you can order a skipper and/or a hamper at The Club’s reception. When asked why he thinks North Zakynthos is so special, Nico said “because it’s the most unspoiled part (of the island) and has one of the most iconic beaches of the world “The Shipwreck beach” which he recommends tackling “first in the morning before the big tourist boats.” He also suggests exploring the many little beaches along the coast that can only be reached by boat.
No Peligoni holiday is complete without a long and lazy Mikro Nisi lunch. It gives you all you could want from a taverna spread, but with a dose of timeless charm and a heap of homely atmosphere that you can’t put a price on. Nico puts the restaurant’s popularity down to “the magnificent view, the good quality of the food and the hospitality that makes our guests feel like home.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Guests can book a table and arrange transport to and from Mikro Nisi at The Club’s Reception.