Updated: Oct 14
Visiting Greece when we did, and specifically visiting the island of Naxos, was a very happy travel accident. Naxos truly is a hidden gem among the islands of Greece. On our first day (an hour after we arrived) we were whisked away on a private tour with a "local", someone who would be able to share the history and take us to the secret places only locals know about.
After visits to ancient ruins and the picturesque villages, our guide lead us to Rotonda, a beautiful restaurant with a spectacular patio and view. Words (and even photos) do not do this location justice. It is located high up, on the route to picturesque Apeiranthos (the mountainous Marble village located 600m from sea level). The steep roads and switch backs may deter you, but what waits is worth any effort it takes to get there. We were lucky to visit Rotonda when we did, and discovered it is one of the best restaurants in Naxos.
When to Visit Rotonda Restaurant, one of the best Restaurants in Naxos, and What to Expect:
Due to the location, the owners (who opened and have managed Rotonda for over a decade) are only open during months where it is more easily accessible by tourists and locals alike, approximately May to October. The mountain routes can be tricky in the winter months. It being October and nearing the end of the season when we visited, we were the only guests on the huge panoramic balcony. Standing near the edge, we marveled at what lay beyond. Like a painting, the blue sky faded into the shadowed layers of the mountains in the distance. It is one of those places that even standing there, it doesn’t look real.
There are a variety of seat available, from classic bistro tables to large padded benches, we sat at a huge wooden spool bar table on high stools. Potted herbs and plants are scattered across the tables and floor. These very herbs are local varieties used in their day to day recipes.
On full sun days, especially during the warmer months, we would recommend a seat with some shade. There is little coverage and the sun (and glare) can be intense. Though the tables are scattered and somewhat cluttered, the potted herbs, large rocks and decorative orbs break up the space and create smaller, more romantic areas.
We ordered the Cheese Platter to start, not knowing it would be a huge selection of local cheeses, (including soft cheese, feta, gruyere, a local cream cheese that is to die for, hard local cheeses & spicy cheeses), plus fruit and nuts and bread. Every bite was absolutely delicious, so much so we nearly finished the entire platter, not wanting a morsel to go to waste. To this day, we still talk about that cheese and our mouths water.
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Next, we both ordered a Wild Mushroom Risotto. The sun was just beginning to set and warm comforting risotto complimented the atmosphere. It was decadent, rich, creamy and so flavourful. It was easily the best risotto we’ve ever had in a restaurant, hands down. We were so very full from the cheese that we couldn't finish the delicate risotto. Even had we opted for one to share, it would have been too much.
We sipped our Greek coffee (there is always room for coffee) and watched the birds dance in the breathtaking panorama until it was time to leave. If you ever have the opportunity to explore the island of Naxos, ensure you make a stop at Rotonda Restaurant and give yourself time (and an elastic waistband) to enjoy the view and the menu. If you can reserve a spot for sunset, you won’t regret it.
Rotonda Restaurant, Naxos, Greece
Overall Ranking - 5/5
The view is enough to draw you in. The quality of the food will overwhelm you. Choose a shaded seat in the hot months to fully enjoy the experience without glare or overheating. Remember to bring your camera and your appetite. If you can't finish it, DO NOT be embarrassed to take it to go. (We weren't!)