There’s a reason Greek restaurants tend to stay in business much longer than restaurants serving other cuisines. Greece’s healthful Mediterranean cuisine has a loyal following.
Greek salad is a fixture on many menus, even in non-Greek restaurants. But beyond this staple, Greek dishes can be confusing.
Greek restaurateurs and chefs also are some of the most hospitable and enthusiastic folks in the business. They love nothing more than to sing out, “Come in! Come in! Let me make you something!” And they’ll show you just what’s going into your dish.
In Naples and the surrounding areas, there are a number of choices for foodies, including four locally owned Greek restaurants with authentic dishes:
Where: 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd, Suite 116, between Wiggins Pass and Immokalee roads, North Naples
Information: (239) 325-8531; www.Archipelago.vpweb.com
The chefs at GreekElicous Restaurant & Bakery in North Naples are proud to say they’re 100 percent Greek. The restaurant is owned and managed by husband Yannis and wife Lucia Temenos who say they are committed to keeping everything they make authentically Greek. Every day, they make in-house specialties such as moussaka and pastitsio from scratch.
One of their most popular and economical lunch favorites is the Greek lunch combo that gives diners a sampling of moussaka; spanakopita, which are Greek spinach-and-cheese pies; tyropita, a phyllo dough-topped feta cheese pie; dolma, the famous Greek stuffed grape leaves; and pastitsio, traditional Cypriot almond cookies.
They are also known for their falafel patties with tangy tzatziki (herbed yogurt) sauce and cold platters for sharing.
Where: 390 U.S. 41 N., Naples
Information: (239) 403-7003; www.LoveGreekFood.com
If you’re a fan of the traditional béchamel sauce that crowns the Greek dish moussaka, the Greek Gourmet in Naples is a good spot to try it. They really heap it on and it’s cooked well with chunks of tender meat, eggplant and potatoes. The Greek salad dressing at Greek Gourmet is superior to most other Greek dressings and the feta is super moist. Greek Gourmet, across from NCH downtown, is popular with the hospital crowd at lunch for its reasonable $13.95 lunch deal that includes enough salad, tzatziki with grilled pita, and entrée to share.
Where: 4951 U.S. 41 N., #5, North Naples
Information: (239) 263-2996
Everything at this North Naples restaurant is classic Greek cuisine, but a few dishes really stand out. For appetizers, Chef Dhimiter Ruci suggests trying Pelagos’ two different types of grape leaves. But his repeat fans shout for his homegrown zucchini blossoms, a seasonal treat that comes from his own garden.
For entrees, don’t miss the leg of lamb or the chicken keparo, which includes a salad topping of white and red grapes and cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, lemon, parsley and onion. It’s the perfect combination of saltiness from the chicken and others toppings, combined with the sweetness of the fruit and citrus. Seafood rounds out the menu in traditional Greek and Mediterranean styles.
Where: 3847 U.S. 41 E., Naples
Information: (239) 775-7722
Mario’s has been quietly operating in Towne Center for years, and insiders are familiar with its Green salad and its generous servings of the nut-and-honey Greek pastry, baklava. The cafe is international, with a sampling of empanadas and a 10-inch Cuban sandwich.
There are dozens of ice cream flavors there, too. Greek specialties include spanakopita, Greek salad and moussaka for both diners and to take home. The restaurant carries Greek beers and wines as well as American ones and even has a Greek spaghetti, topped with lamb, feta, mozzarella, basil and Kalamata olives.
Where: 2800 Davis Blvd., Naples
Information: (239) 732-5400
Olympia Dining recently moved from its previous location on Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs to Davis Boulevard near Shadowlawn Drive in East Naples. The restaurant still serves traditional Greek dishes but now also serves American dishes, including American favorite breakfast dishes.
For heartier fare, try the chicken kabobs and lamb chops that are homemade by owner Tony Bekurti. Don’t leave without trying the saginaki, a flaming Greek cheese appetizer. For dessert, the rice pudding, which Bekurit also makes from scratch, is stellar.