BOSTON - An instant hit since they day it opened, Saloniki Greek is a fun restaurant run by a serious culinary team, including Chef Jody Adams, CEO Eric Papachristos, and General Manager Jonathan Mendez, who were inspired to bring a new kind of experience to Boston's Fenway neighborhood.
"The way that we designed our menu here at Saloniki is really to get the best flavors that I experienced growing up in Thessaloniki," explained Eric. "So we just took the best of Thessaloniki and we brought it here into the form of a sandwich."
"We focus on bringing the best flavor we possibly could, staying very, very much in that Greek sandbox," Jonathan said. "Tons of garlic, tons of oregano, honey, pork, chicken, lamb, meatballs. Fun, sexy little sandwich shop that I think we ended up with."
Like any great sandwich, the Saloniki experience starts with the bread. In this case, it's fluffy, made from scratch pita bread that's pressed and griddled fresh to order in less than 90 seconds.
"It's warm; you can smell it; you can see it. So you're sort of infused with this feeling of the lusciousness of the sandwich before you actually ever get it to your mouth," described Jody.
"People walk in, they step up, the first thing they step up to is this pita press." Jonathan said. "Then they kind of go down the line where you choose your sauce, and you choose your protein option or vegetable option if you happen to be a vegetarian or vegan, and then you top it and finally you pay."
"We're right here on a main corner heading into Fenway. We know that people are moving through this neighborhood quickly. The menu and the line here is designed for speed and efficiency," Jody explained.
There are rice bowls and authentic salads; tangy Greek yogurt, and crispy pita chips; homemade soups, honey-drizzled baklava crisps, and Greek fries tossed with oregano and cheese. But the sandwiches are definitely the star attraction, especially Saloniki's four so-called classics: The Herc, The Despina, The Niko, and The George, named after Eric's family.
"The Herc, which is actually my real name, which is Hercules, is actually the pork with a spicy whipped feta on the fresh bread," Eric said. "I built it specifically because that's what I eat every time I come in here, sometimes two at a time."
The Despina is named after Eric's mother.
"Her sandwich is the zucchini fried fritters. My mom is a little bit less of a carnivore than I am. So she loves her vegetables, loves here feta. So it's a little bit of a lighter sandwich."
"It is a sleeper. We didn't expect it to be the hit that it is," Jonathan added. "I can tell you from day one, we would make a batch of maybe 100-130 zucchini fritters and now we sell over 800 a day."
The George is named for Eric's brother.
"My brother is a couple years older than I am; he's a bigger guy. So every time he eats a sandwich, it has to be loaded up. So there's extra sauce on it, extra fries on it, and extra toppings on it."
"Niko is my dad. My dad is a little more conservative, very old school Greek."
"It's very traditional," Jody elaborated. "Tzatziki, grilled chicken, onions, tomatoes, the fries, and then I put the spicy slaw in, some fresh herbs, and the secret sauce."
Service at Saloniki always comes with a smile, and why wouldn't you be smiling when you can get real Greek food that's fast, fresh, and affordable.
"Everybody loves Greek food. It's amazing," Jody said. "It's light and yet incredibly satisfying."
You can find Saloniki at 4 Kilmarnock Street in Boston, and online at salonikigreek.com.
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