OXFORD — Restauranteurs Theofilos “Theo” Anastasiadis and Chris Gogas decided to take a chance when they changed the name, interior and menu in their established restaurant at 143 Oxford Rd., to create Bistro 143. Mr. Gogas told Voices, “We’re getting a lot of compliments and people are appreciating the differences so we’re thinking that is our reward for taking a risk.”
Between the two men is more than a half century of experience in food service and they believe their new direction is a positive response to a community desire to savor the dining experience.
“We believe Oxford wants something fresh and unique, a more modern menu and a place where friends and families can come to relax and enjoy very good food,” said Mr. Anastasiadis.
They started with the menu, considering options and tasting new ideas to offer options that are different from the wings, burgers and sandwiches that the formerly named Pies and Pints restaurant had popularized.
Mr. Gogas explained, “We have a very good staff and great chefs so we took some classics and put a twist on them. My favorite is a pork chop saltimbocca that’s grilled and finished with fresh mozzarella and crisped prosciutto.”
“We still offer great burgers,” Mr. Anastasiadis pointed out before highlighting some of the new sandwich selections such as the grown-up grilled cheese with gruyere and aged cheddar, pepper crusted bacon, tomato, and avocado, on sourdough.
He continued, “We’ve added more steaks and good tuna dishes like the ahi tuna taco with wasabi mousse.”
The idea was to go a step further than the more familiar ways of delivering heat, creating a light, almost airy cream that offers a quick zing before melting away to allow the fresh tuna to shine through.
The entire restaurant was transformed in one week, with the owners and a small crew working 20-hour days to revamp the kitchen, create modern, streamlined dining spaces, and train the staff on executing and serving the new menu.
“It was like a TV makeover without the drama.” Mr. Gogas said. “We completely remodeled the interior to match the new menu and direction, which is a focus on modern cuisine like the short rib grilled cheese in a thick sourdough with dipping sauce.”
Despite the innovation apparent in the new menu, the restaurant is still family friendly and the classic pizzas are still available.
There are weekly specials in addition to the menu items.
Mr. Gogas commented, “There are just enough options, priced right, and different for several reasons, including the ingredients we’ve never used before.”
He added, “We have a good selection of wines — nothing too overwhelming but very attractive — 30 beers on draft, and special-recipe cocktails mixed and kegged so they can be available on draft, too, including an Old Fashioned and Margaritas.”
A cocktail menu offers a new favorite, the watermelon cucumber martini.
Desserts are made in house and can work well with after dinner drinks such as port, Irish or French coffee, a bourbon, or espresso.
The patio is open with a scenic view of the brook.
A private room is available for parties and a semi-private room can accommodate another celebration.
All menu items are available for offsite catering.
Since opening under the new name, which reflects the street address, Mr. Anastasiadis and Mr. Gogas learned there is a secondary meaning behind the number 143.
“People ask if we chose the name because it means ‘I love you,’” Mr. Gogas noted.
The digits correspond to the number of letters in each word and Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighborhood kept his weight to 143 pounds throughout his life.
The restauranteurs like the idea of sharing their dining vision with their Oxford neighbors.
“We’re very happy with the reaction,” Mr. Anastasiadis recalled a recent visit. “A couple told me they were returning for the second time in one week because they liked what we’ve done.
“They used to leave town for dinner but promised they’d be back here weekly just to get through all the dishes on the menu.”
Bistro 143 is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays in the newly renovated bar.
Reservations may be made by calling 203-881-0777 and more information is available at www.Bistro143.com and Facebook.