There are certain professions and industries where, despite their grueling and thankless nature, people get addicted to their work. One of my coworkers says that “it gets in your blood,” and I am inclined to agree. One such profession is that of restaurateur; the hours spent by a hands-on restaurant owner can border on a 100 per week—from opening prep to closing time.

Take Tasso Perakis, for example, after a lifetime of owning four different restaurants over the span of nearly 30 years, he finally retired in 2015—selling off his Gilroy-based endeavor, Tasso’s Old House. Tasso and his wife Maria flew off to Greece for a well-deserved vacation to catch up with family and friends. Meanwhile back in the states, their son Kostas was moving back home from Las Vegas and couldn’t wait to talk to dear old dad about (what else?) a new restaurant venture.

“I ended up moving back to San Jose around the same time and both my father and I started talking about the restaurant business again, but this time, going back to our roots—back in San Jose where it all started for my father’s restaurateur career,” Kostas explains. Kostas also like to point out the irony in this. “I had first persuaded them in 2014 to sell-off the restaurant, as they’d never really taken any time off to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

Their new endeavor, Tasso’s Restaurant and Bar, is located less than one mile (as the crow flies) from the original Tasso’s Garden, on the corner of Meridian and Willow, and is seated in one of the South Bay’s newer transit-villages. “We both collaborated on the menu items and cuisine,” Kostas continues, “integrating my father’s famous recipes and signature items. I took full control of the restaurant’s design and our logo, which I designed myself.”

The interior of Tasso’s is elegant, sexy and blue—very, very blue. From the luminescent blue lighting of the swank bar, down to the Grecian blue plates and napkins. The booths even have a blue crushed velvet look that’s oddly retro, but also very chic.

I had the pleasure of being served by matriarch Maria on my visit and what an amazing woman. She was very outspoken, charming and quick with the jokes. She made us feel like we were at a friend’s dinner party, as opposed to a restaurant in the middle of suburbia.

The bar features Greek-inspired craft cocktails like the Fig Mojito ($12) and the Mediterranean Mule ($14), both of which contain fig vodka. There’s also craft beers on-tap, as well as bottles of imported Greek beers ($7/ea). I highly recommend the Zeos Black for dark beer lovers, as it was full-bodied but smooth.

As far as the food goes, there’s plenty to keep even the most hardcore Greek food lover happy. From Horiatiki and Spanakopita to even housemade Baklava—there’s plenty of hard to pronounce but easy to love items here.

Tasso’s, however, is known for their signature lamb shank ($20) which involves hours of braising and preparation to produce a thick, flavorful sauce and tender fall-off-the-bone meat. The dish itself was sumptuous and hearty, as the accompanying rice pilaf, steamed veggies and Greek salad made for a nice palate break-up. There was even some marrow in the bone left for slurping up in one delicious shot.

There’s also a Greek Combo ($23.50) plate that features their lamb shank, as well as my personal favorite Greek dish Moussaka (aka Greek lasagna). Tasso’s Moussaka had a very unctuous and deep beefy flavor unlike any moussaka I’ve previously tried. It was a very flavorful dish, and when combined with their silky béchamel sauce and soft eggplant, it really packed a wallop of flavor.

Moving on to the dessert portion we couldn’t resist getting their Dos Grecas ($11) that, as the name suggests, combines two Greek desserts into one: warm loukoumades (aka Greek beignets) and Greek yogurt drizzled with thyme-honey, walnut crumbles, cinnamon and powdered sugar. It also comes with fresh, seasonal fruit (in our case blueberries and strawberries) to really give it that freshness factor—and this bad boy was gobbled up as quickly as it came out.

Overall Tasso’s has a really surreal feel to it, in that the cuisine feels like a down home country fare—but in a modern and elegant setting. The family-feel of the place can be summed up by Kostas’ reaction when I asked him for more info about the lamb shank. He laughs and states, “Believe it or not, although I am the son, my father has yet to share his signature recipe with me. It’s top secret!”

Tasso’s Restaurant and Bar
1530 Southwest Expy #10, San Jose
Greek, $$