For Valentine’s Day, how about a couple of love stories intertwined around a bakery coffee shop? That’s what you’ll find at Mocco Bistro on South Boulevard – along with elegant Greek pastries.
The first story started when Dionysia Lianou, a girl from Athens, Greece, journeyed halfway around the world to study photography at Central Piedmont Community College. She met a Greek-American boy named Gus Stamoulis, raised in a restaurant family here in Charlotte. He fell in love so madly that he followed her back to Greece.
Gus won Dionysia’s hand and they wound up moving back to Charlotte. In 2010, they opened Nefeli Caffe, a small Greek eatery on pedestrian-only Brevard Court next to Romare Bearden Park.
Now the second story kicks in, with Dionysia’s mom Chaido Lianou. “She loves cooking,” Dionysia says. “As far back as I can remember, she was always in the kitchen, cooking for people.” When Dionysia was in high school, mom took a chance on her passion. She enrolled in Greece’s LeMonde Institute to train as a pastry chef.
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On visits to Charlotte, “she started making desserts for the Greek people here, traditional things they hadn’t had in years,” Dionysia continues.
In 2015, mom came to the U.S. for good and the family opened Mocco Bistro, the name cooked up from “moca” and “chocolate.” You’ll find Dionysia at the counter and Chaido bustling back and forth from the ovens, her face aglow – not just from heat but from happiness.
Mocco’s pastries include familiar Greek favorites such as Baklava, Kourabiedes (butter cookies dusted in powdered sugar) and Melomakarona (honey cookies rolled in walnuts). Two chilled cases display Chaido’s more elaborate culinary art. I can’t resist Kokakia: two small round wafers of sponge cake with creme in between and a dollop of chocolate on top – “sort of like ‘Greek eclairs,’ ” Dionysia explains.
Don’t miss Sokolatina: little cakes with a layer of mousse, robed in shiny chocolate, garnished with fresh strawberries. This week, Chaido will bake them in the shape of a Valentine’s heart.
Reach Tom Hanchett at Tom@HistorySouth.org.
Address: 4004 South Blvd., Suite E.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays.
Details: 980-207-0508; www.moccobistro.com.