When Mandolin Aegean Bistro popped onto the Miami restaurant scene nine years ago, its charming outdoor garden café was a welcome addition to what was then an up-and-coming Design District. The food was — and still is — consistently incredible, and the hospitality made Mandolin shine even brighter.
The restaurant has a way of transporting you to the Aegean Sea, with Moroccan-style glasses filled with crisp rosé and blue-on-white plates holding shareable, crave-worthy dishes. The hosts — Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis, New York transplants whose passion for fine dining is matched only by their love for each other and their family — have a knack for making diners feel as though they are guests in the couple’s home.
‘Mandolin truly is our life, and it’s our style.’
While Erkaya ran the kitchen, Koutsioukis managed the front of house, documenting snaps of the restaurant’s leisurely sophistication on her Instagram account, @mrsmandolin. Fast-forward nearly a decade later: Mandolin is thriving among the ramped-up luxury of the Design District, and Koutsioukis has embarked on her next big project.
Mrs. Mandolin is a Concept Store and Café
Having made its grand opening this summer, Mrs. Mandolin — a concept store and café peddling specialty coffee and Greek pastries, household wares, and garments embodying the Aegean spirit — was a logical progression for Koutsioukis. A perennial entertainer with a penchant for travel, she imagined Mrs. Mandolin as more of a lifestyle boutique than a retail store.
“Mandolin truly is our life and it’s our style,” Koutsioukis said. “The Aegean is a special place to us. Those artisan treasures that we find and that end up in our home are the conversation pieces that tell the story of our lives.”
Part beach house, part souk, Mrs. Mandolin is a treasure chest filled with Koutsioukis’ dearest findings. The majority of housewares were sourced during her travels throughout Greece, Turkey and Morocco. Vintage Anatolian hand-carved wooden cutting boards, for example — with some dating to the 19th century — are priced around $350 and work just as well for food prep as they do as serving pieces. Turkish towels, Moroccan pillowcases and throws, and sea-foam Moroccan glassware range from about $12 to $65.
‘Everything Here is Made with Love’
An array of Koutsioukis’ fashion-designer friends have pieces lining the space, from airy kaftans and Grecian sandals to delicate baubles and swimwear. Garments from celebrated brands like Loup Charmant and Carolina K transition seamlessly from pool-lounging to bar-hopping.
“I really want our retail offerings to be less about the piece and more about the woman,” said Koutsioukis, whose own aesthetic includes breezy tunics and dainty jewelry.
She’s also focused on carrying emerging as well as established local jewelers. A pair of brightly colored, abstractly geometric earrings by Miami newcomer Pili Restrepo are sure to make a statement, while Miansai’s classic gold cuffs are simple yet attention-grabbing.
Careful to blend high-end and low-priced pieces with vintage goods and luxurious scented bath treats, Mrs. Mandolin is a thoughtfully curated market emulating the breezy, blissful ease of the Mediterranean coast. An extension of Koutsioukis’ personal brand and life, Mrs. Mandolin is like a window into her festive, inspired heart.
“Everything here,” she said, “is made with love.”
Mrs. Mandolin, 4218 Northeast Second Avenue, Miami; 786-420-5110; mrsmandolin.com.