By Christine Mouser
While Pittsburgh hasn't quite blossomed into a Greek food metropolis just yet, the city still has plenty of great, all-Greek spots that serve as a haven to those craving some tasty gyros or authentic moussaka.
For Fresh and Healthy:
3716 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat, noon – 4 p.m.
If there is one word to describe Pastitsio, it's fresh. This gourmet Greek deli uses the freshest ingredients in a rotating seasonal menu and uses local farmers when possible. Even better, their sauces, marinades, rubs and dressings are all homemade, an extra step that makes all the difference.
Pastitsio excels at all of the Greek staples, like the chicken or lamb souvlakia (grilled skewers of marinated meat with veggies and served over rice) and the moussaka (which resembles lasagna), features layers of potato, eggplant and seasoned ground beef with béchamel sauce. Their signature Pastitsio dish is also tasty with layered penne pasta, seasoned ground beef and béchamel sauce.
If you're looking for something on the lighter side, try the falafel, salads, dolmades (Greek leaves stuffed with rice and herbs) and hummus. For dessert, you can't go wrong with the traditional rice pudding and yogurt. Located in the quaint and emerging neighborhood of Lawrenceville, Pastitsio is the perfect fit and a destination for diners looking for a fresh, homemade meal.
For Greek Fine Dining:
2193 Babcock Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sun, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
The saying goes: big surprises come in small packages. And that big surprise is North Hills Greek restaurant, Mediterrano. Though this restaurant is on the small side, it packs a punch of flavor and a beautiful atmosphere inside its tiny walls. Mediterrano focuses on using fresh and seasonal ingredients coupled with traditional Greek spices and flavors.
The menu is large and full of Greek specialties. For a group of diners, check out the mezedes, or small-plate appetizers that are popular in the Greek tradition. Some standout starters are the dolmades (tender grape leaves stuffed with rice, beef and herbs) as well as the spanokopitakia (phyllo pastry filled with spinach, feta and herbs).
Here at Mediterrano, you can't go wrong with any lamb entrée—from the Arni Sto Fourno (roasted boneless leg of lamb with rosemary) to the Arni Souvlaki (lamb skewered with onions and peppers, served over rice pilaf).
The Mediterranean Sea supplies the restaurant with fresh, seasonal fish like red snapper and tilapia. While the entrees are top notch, the desserts are just as good. Choose from favorites like the shredded phyllo dough delicacy, kataifi stuffed with crushed walnuts and honey or the chocolate espresso cake topped with a nutella mousse. Simply put, Mediterrano offers diners an upscale taste of real-deal, fresh Greek cuisine.
Mike & Tony's Gyros
927 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Mike & Tony's Gyros is one of those foodies staples that everyone seems to know about. In fact, Mike & Tony's is so popular, that they have two separate locations—Southside and Downtown. Their lamb gyros are among the best in city and more importantly, they're reasonably priced at just $4.30! They're ideal for those working downtown and looking to save a buck, while the location in Southside is perfect for late night snackers.
Aside from the signature gyros, they're serving up souvlaki, baked spinach pie, hummus, baklava, hoagies and more. But for a first timer to Mike & Tony's Gyros, there's really only one option on the menu. Hint: it's all in the name.
Christos' Mediterranean Grill
130 Sixth Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
There are tons of restaurants in Pittsburgh that boast upscale and seasoned chefs that run highly successful restaurants. But few can boast what the owner of Christos can. Christos Melacrinos once served as a personal chef to one of the most iconic women in the United States history—Jackie Onassis. Melacrinos worked aboard the Onassis yacht, which serves as inspiration for the décor of the restaurant. The restaurant is small but homey with a full bar, and the walls are decorated with old photos from his yacht days.
Aside from Jackie O, this restaurant has a lot going for it. The roast lamb, moussaka and spanakopita are top-notch entrees, while the chicken lemon soup, hummus and pita bread are delicious complementary options. But perhaps the signature dish at Christos is actually a dessert—the Jackie O Cake. Dubbed a favorite's of the icon, this dessert features vanilla cake topped with honey syrup, custard and cream.
You might find the restaurant service to be a bit slow, so plan on trying out this Greek joint during non peak hours for a better all-around experience. Head here for the perfect nightcap after a show in the Cultural District for a drink or a slice of that divine cake.
For Greek Groceries:
Stamoolis Brothers Co.: Greek Groceries
2020 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
If you're new to Greek cuisine, you may find that it's pretty hard to find the right ingredients in local groceries to create your own traditional meal. But if you're not a newbie to whipping up Greek specialties, then you know exactly where to go: Stamoolis Brothers Company. This Greek grocery/store has everything you're looking for, and it's been that way since the early 1900s when five brothers came over from Greece and decided to start a business. More than 100 years since their arrival, Stamoolis Brothers Company has been a Greek staple in the Strip District.
The store is supplied with meats, Greek cheeses, olives oils, spices and every kind of olive you can think of. They carry several different doughs in addition to gyro meat, pastries and stuffed grape leaves. It's impossible to leave Stamoolis Brothers Company without garnering a greater appreciation for Greek food… and a bag full of groceries.
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Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers' markets and reads cookbooks before bed. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.
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