Cypriana Brings Taste of the Mediterranean to Tuscany-Canterbury
In 2017 Tuscany-Canterbury neighbors have a new, much-anticipated dining option, Cypriana. Owners Maria Kaimakis and her husband Vassos Yiannouris are hard-working, charming, and quite enthusiastic about food. Maria is the chef, and when Vassos is complimented on the food, he is quick to say, “It is all Maria.” She says she absolutely loves to cook, creating recipes in her head and perfecting them, sometimes for months. As a child, she would visit Greece, where she was taught to cook by her paternal grand- mother. Her other grandmother, Mary, born in the United States, taught her that “cooking should be done for fun” and “don’t worry, we will clean up later. ” The menu is Mediterranean with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Small and medium plates are offered. Chef Maria uses secret ingredients in her sauces that customers rave about. the signature tarragon sauce, the tzatziki sauce, and the tahini dressing are all homemade daily. Some of the dishes the neighborhood customers talk about are the soups, the kabobs with filet mignon, the salmon with tarragon sauce, the salad and dip sampler, the Portobello mushroom flatbread, and the octopus. e pita bread, freshly baked and warm, is delicious served with hummus. On the dessert menu, the baklava Belgian waffle, with yogurt, cinnamon, walnut, and butter, is one of Chef Maria’s special creations
Maria and Vassos have been in the food business for over 25 years. In the 1990s, Vassos grilled kabobs in front of their house in Patterson Park and people thought he was selling food. at prompted him to
buy a food cart, and the couple became street vendors with popular falafel and chicken souvlaki on Light and Water streets downtown near the courthouse. It was a hit, with customers dubbing it “the best jury duty food in Baltimore.” Senator Barbara Mikulski, a devoted customer and Tuscany- Canterbury resident, says when she was on jury duty, she would try to persuade Maria to sell her favorite falafel in bulk. Maria would refuse for fear that her special, freshly made falafel would be put in the freezer. Over the years, the couple has operated small indoor restaurants downtown and a large space in the food court of University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center. is has been rated as the “best hospital food” by City Paper.
Now things have changed quite a bit. Maria and Vassos have a 7,000-square-foot restaurant that accommodates 150 diners, a 2,000-square-foot kitchen, and a large patio for al fresco dining. Vassos says that there is finally plenty of room for Maria’s inventive cooking.
On entering Cypriana, customers are often welcomed personally by Vassos. The mood is friendly and relaxed. The bar is large, with plenty of room for dining or happy hour. There is a spacious main dining room, and the cozy back room by a fireplace with tables set for larger groups. The wait staff is gracious and efficient.
Maria is a native Baltimorean, raised in Highlandtown. Her great-grandparents came to Ellis Island from Sparta, Greece, as a married couple at ages 14 and 16 and settled in Patterson Park. Vassos is a native of Cyprus and came to this country in 1984. He and Maria met at a party at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in 1987, were married soon after, and have been together ever since.
Tuscany-Canterbury residents are lucky to have Cypriana here, not only because the restaurant is a welcome addition but also because Maria and Vassos are a delightful couple to have in the neighborhood.