If you go
Where: Davis Village, 2800 Davis Blvd., East Naples
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily
Prices: $3.50 to $7.50 for breakfasts; a pita with meats or cheeses lunch from $7.90 and dinners from $11.99 to $18.99; desserts from $1.85 up
Information: (239) 732-5400; olympiadining.com
Olympia Dining may have moved from its previous location in Bonita Springs to Davis Boulevard near Shadowlawn Lane in East Naples, but owners Executive Chef Tony Bekurti and Olympian medalist markswoman Enka Shehaj haven’t changed the casual, flavorful style of dishes they serve at their new digs.
Even if you don’t know the difference between moussaka (a layered casserole of eggplant and chopped meat topped with a creamy béchamel sauce) and pastitsio (layered casserole of macaroni and chopped meat topped with creamy béchamel sauce), you’ll find some sort of temptation at the area’s newest Greek neighbor.
No one can dispute Greek food is one of the most palatable cuisines in recorded history. And many dishes made famous by some of the Earth’s earliest foodies are on the menu at Olympia Dining. From the aforementioned moussaka and pastitsio to gyro-and-souvlaki platters, pasta and shish-kebabs, the menu will be familiar for those who appreciate Greek food.
My family and I discovered Olympia Dining for breakfast, but since we live in the area it’s been a convenient place for us to grab a few to-go entrees, or several hundred orders of rice pudding here and there. It’s an easy place to dine — no fuss, and while the servers don’t hover, the service is good and the food is dependable. Chef Bekurti’s liberal use of oregano, a fundamental Greek spice, shows up in many of the dishes and naturally in the traditional Greek salad dressing. He also puts his own spin on many traditional dishes.
Go to Olympia Dining as a couple, and Chef Bekurti may talk you into one of his favorite orders: the roasted lamb for two ($25.95), or one of his sharing platters. Go alone, and the bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of strong Greek coffee or Retsina, a fabulous Greek wine (although it may be an acquired taste, with its assertive flavor). That’s also the spot to have a formidable meal with friendly owners and staff in front of a one-of a kind mural.
One of my favorite Greek appetizers is saganaki ($7.95), a Greek flaming cheese that’s a special treat the whole table can share. The side order of potatoes is especially, well, special. They make the perfect platform for the oregano seasoning and pair well with either of the shish-kebabs, which come in both lamb and chicken.
Spanakopita, otherwise known as spinach pie, is made in the traditional Greek way with layers of phyllo, cheese and spinach ($6.95). I always ask for a side of Bekurti’s tangy tzatziki, a traditional Greek yogurt sauce of yogurt, cucumber and garlic.
Those who love lamb can’t go wrong with Chef Bekurti’s tender roasted leg of lamb dinner ($15.99), and the lamb gyro ($7.90) is basic, served with fresh tomatoes and a sizeable dollop of delicious tzatziki. Béchamel cream sauce is served atop moussaka and pastitsio. I’ve rarely found Greek restaurants that heap enough of it on either of the dishes, but in the Olympia Dining version of moussaka ($12.99), it’s the perfect balance above a succulent helping of saucy beef, eggplant and potatoes that compose the dish.
It sounds simple, but the grilled pita at Olympia Dining is moist and makes a great platform for feta cheese and a dollop of leftover tzatziki the next day. The pita is also wonderful for dipping into Bekurti’s lemon chicken soup. This savory, creamy soup is made with orzo, a small, flat pasta not much bigger than a grain of rice.
His split pea soup is also the perfect accompaniment to the chicken, hummus and feta pita for a tasty lunch. Entrees come with a choice of soup or small Greek salad and pita bread, so alternate the soups to try them all ($3.99 cup, $5.25 bowl).
Alongside the traditional Greek dishes, Bekurti also serves a few American dishes and especially excels with breakfast. With few places to grab breakfast in this part of Naples, the pancakes and omelets at Olympia Dining are sweet and savory home-cooked alternatives to the cardboard cereal so many of us grab for lack of a better breakfast idea.
For dessert, there simply is no better rice pudding ($4.50) in Naples than that at Olympia Dining. Bekurti makes it from scratch (his grandmother’s recipe) and on the days he creates his rice pudding, the whole restaurant is aglow in the scent of rich cream, cinnamon and dreams of second helpings.
However, if pudding isn’t your taste, Olympia Dining has a dessert case brimming with sweet tooth-approved treats, including homemade baklava ($3.50), the traditional Greek dessert made from layers of flaky pastry, chopped nuts and honey.