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Michele Marchetti: Happily, It's All 'The Greek' To Me

by on November 02, 2011 7:10 AM

My restaurant preferences are not unlike my three-year-old’s reading selections.

When I find something I like, I fixate on it.

There’s something completely comforting about looking at a menu and knowing exactly how the story of my dinner is going to end: with a slight buzz from good wine and friends and the warm feeling that comes from a well-cooked by-someone-else meal.

With two kids at home, I can’t afford to eat at restaurants that serve crappy food. I might not get out again for six months.

My first trip to The Greek — my current obsession — occurred early last month. I was back two weeks later for a pre-State Theatre-show meal. I was hoping for three trips in one month, but I’ll have to settle for a return trip soon, possibly for my birthday dinner.

Why am I so smitten with The Greek? So many reasons, not the least of which was the blocks of feta cheese as big as small pizza slices that accompany the Village salad and turn it into something filling enough to eat as a main course. That feta arrives in large tin cans from -- you guessed it -- Greece.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

COUNTER IS PRODUCTIVE

At The Greek, you place your order at the counter, and the food is delivered to your table. If the set-up implies fast food, think again. The employees patiently answered our many questions, offering favorites and apologizing profusely for the sold-out Spanakopita.

(Come to think of it, running out of the most popular item on the menu is kind of genius; getting a bite of the best-thing-that-happened-to-spinach was my main justification for coming back to The Greek so soon. On that return trip I also ordered the velvety tomato basil soup, a family recipe that goes back to the owner’s grandmother.)

The reasonable prices gave us full permission to over-order. Before long our table was covered with vibrant tomatoes, eggplant, enough pita to feed a small Greek village, and my personal favorite: the Pastitsio, a weekend special. The Greek version of lasagna, this messy, gooey combo of pasta, beef and béchamel sauce topped with tomato basil sauce is exceptional comfort food. Too rich? Make sure someone at your table orders it: the autumnal aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg is just as satisfying as the flavor.

The Greek is owned by Lisa and John Dimakopoulos, owners of the Original Waffle Shop. The 3,700-square foot, two-level restaurant features a Mediterranean blue-painted ceiling, and buzzes with a diverse crowd of families, students, and professionals.

The restaurant has only been open since late September, but the place is already a hit — particularly with the early-bird crowd, who, the owners report, show up at exactly 5 p.m. We arrived at about 8, but just an hour earlier we wouldn’t have been able to get a table.

ONLY ONE REASON TO WINE

The ability to bring your own wine is another selling point of The Greek, and as we made our way through our Greek smorgasbord, we toasted to great friends and too much food.

And then we got more food.

Apologizing for another sold-out item — the Moussaka — a server brought out a dish of complimentary fries and Tzatziki sauce.

It seemed like a waste of belly space to eat something as pedestrian as fries, but the Tzatziki sauce turned them into food crack. Before long I was trying to figure out how to dunk an entire fry without losing it in the journey from the bowl to my mouth.

Like I said, we had a lot of food, and just as much wine, so I’m sure my friends didn’t notice.

The Greek is located along Clinton Avenue near North Allen Street — right next to the North Atherton Waffle Shop.



Michele Marchetti is a freelance writer and the former managing editor of StateCollege.com. Prior to moving to State College, she spent more than 10 years writing for national magazines. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Fortune, Fortune Small Business, Glamour, U.S. News & World Report, Runner's World, Good Housekeeping, Working Mother, Yoga Life and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMStateCollege or contact her at [email protected]
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