Category Archives: Greek

Review – Greek Kouzina in Pittsboro

Outside of Greek Kouzina

It's easy to spot Greek Kouzina's sign

Pittsboro may be a small town, but it is rapidly growing.  Along with this growth, new restaurants are establishing themselves and changing the landscape of this town. As a resident in Chatham County, (Pittsboro is the county seat of Chatham) I am thrilled to see more places open, especially ones that are not the standard burger and fries joint.

One of the newest places to open is the Greek Kouzina (Greek Kitchen) on East Street (Business Highway 64). The restaurant opened in a two story concrete building that houses the YMCA and the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation amongst other organizations.

The bright sunny yellow walls and the deep sea blue reminds you of Greece with its warm climate and ocean. You are immediately welcomed by the friendly staff as you get in line to order from the counter. There are sample plates to help people get more familiar with the Greek dishes.

People ordering food at the Greek Kouzina

Order at the counter and the waiter will bring the food to your table

I have already eaten here three times in two weeks. The first time I ordered the Greek Lamb Pita. The lamb was seasoned with oregano, pepper, and other spices, giving it a rich taste. The lamb is grilled and served with lettuce, tomato, tzatziki (a yogurt-based sauce with cucumbers and onions) sauce and onions on a rolled up pita. It is served with a side of Greek salad. The sandwich was very satisfying to the soul.  The very warm and welcoming owner, Mohammed Matarieyeh, also suggested trying a piece of baklava. They have several great desserts, including both a walnut baklava and a pistachio baklava. It depends on what your personal taste is, but I like the pistachio the most.

Mohammed used to work at the Greek Fiesta in Cary. The Greek Fiesta has a very similar model to the Greek Kouzina, where you order at the counter and get served at your table. You can see that Mohammed is really open and friendly and he is excited about owning his own business. Mohammed said, “I like to think of my customers as my extended family.” I agree that he does make you feel like you’ve made a new friend.

photo of the pita sandwich

The Pita sandwiches make a great lunch or dinner

The second time I came to the restaurant, I had the Falafel Pita. The falafel was nicely fried to a golden crisp and had the perfect amount of cumin and coriander in it. It was served with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki in a pita. Again, I had another piece of the baklava. It’s hard to resist!

photo of the Kouzina Platter

The Kouzina Platter is a great choice. You can order one or two kabobs.

The last time, I decided to order the Kouzina Platter. The platter comes with a Greek salad, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki, grilled pita points and a choice of either the chicken or steak kebab. I chose the steak kebab. The pieces of meat were grilled on the skewer and practically fell off in my mouth because they were so tender.  The side dishes are decent, but not overly memorable. The hummus was good, but I like mine with a bit more garlic in it. That’s just my personal preference. The stuffed grape leaves had rice with mint, dill, chopped onions and olive oil with a bit of lemon juice in them. They were quite good, although one of the ones I had was a little bit on the soggy side. The salad was served with green lettuce, red onion,  banana peppers, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, cucumber,  Kalamata olives and some feta cheese.

The atmosphere is quite casual here, but that is typical in most Pittsboro restaurants.  The prices are also quite reasonable.  You can order a Greek veggie pita for just $4.99 or spend up to $11.99 for the Kouzina platter.  And the big plus in my book is that the Greek Kouzina is open on the weekends and later at night so those of us who work in RTP and commute back to Chatham County can actually go home first before venturing over to Pittsboro for dinner.  The Greek Kouzina also has a substantially large meeting room in the back of the restaurant, so I think there will be many meetings in my future that will be held at this restaurant.

The Greek Kouzina is located at 964 East Street in Pittsboro and is open Sun-Thurs from 11 am to 9 pm and on Fri-Sat from 11am to 10pm.

Angelina’s Kitchen – Greek Food in Pittsboro, NC

outside of Angelina's Kitchen

Angelina's Kitchen in Pittsboro

 *Update on Angelina’s Kitchen: They are now open on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm and on Thursdays & Fridays until 8pm. All other hours are the same as before.

Pittsboro is a little town just west of Apex and south of Chapel Hill that is attracting lots of creative people, including some really creative chefs. One of the more recent additions to the area is Angelina’s Kitchen.  Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste believes in using local produce and that is easily accomplished in Chatham County, which has a plethora of small, organic, sustainable farms. Angelina’s Kitchen serves Greek food and is just starting to also offer some Mexican dishes.

Angelina uses ingredients that are in season, so the menu changes accordingly.  This is the way people eat in Europe – using food from local sources, everything is fresh and wholesome. Much like her friend and fellow chef, Donna Bianco, Angelina is a good friend to many of the area farmers. Chatham County is mainly rural and is full of smaller, organic farmers, so most of the ingredients Angelina needs are available within a very short drive.

ordering at Angelinas Kitchen

Friendly staff will greet you at the counter at Angelina's Kitchen

When you come to Angelina’s you will be greeted by a smile and will immediately feel the warmth of the people who work here.  Don’t expect a fancy atmosphere. There are not cloth tables and candles here, but it is a pleasant place to eat and to meet people from good ‘ole PBO.  The menu changes daily, so it’s best to check the website to see what is on special.

Some of my favorite dishes include the spanakopita, a filo pastry filled with spinach, eggs, herbs and feta cheese.  This dish is served with a side of local greens or a cup of soup. Another favorite of mine is the Greek salad. Angelina uses greens picked from local farmers, fresh, plump red tomatoes, zesty red onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese from Celebrity Dairy, located just a few miles west of her restaurant.

Falafel

Side of Falafel

The hummus has a good amount of garlic in it, but not too overpowering. It is a delicious and healthy treat. Angelina’s falafel is also a wonderful treat. The patties are moist and filled with flavor.  My husband and I had a side order of them the other night. They were served with a side of tzatziki sauce.

chicken gyro

Chicken gyro at Angelina's Kitchen

This particular night, I had the chicken gyro sandwich. You have the choice of three toppings to go on your gyro, so I chose hummus, kalamata olives and cucumbers. The chicken was cooked in a tomato sauce and was nice and juicy. I was going to get the lamb, but unfortunately the restaurant had run out of lamb. John, one of the workers, apologized and said that the farmer who supplies the lamb has not had as many lambs right now. It’s all a part of learning to eat what is in season and what is locally available. We can wait for another trip to have the lamb.

lentil soup

Lentil soup with spanakopita

My husband had the lentil soup with a side of the spanakopita. The lentils were fresh and light. The soup also had carrots, tumeric and garlic, giving it some great flavor. It is a light soup, which is perfect for a summer evening.

Angelina makes wonderful baklava for dessert,  with honey from local bee farmers. The other desserts come from  Abilicious Bakery (also located in Pittsboro), which specializes in gluten, soy and peanut-free delights.

One of the things that is so great about Pittsboro is that most of the chefs in the area are very generous, and Angelina is no exception. My husband and I can hardly think of a fund raising event that she is not donating food to, or helping out in some way. She is a great example of someone who pays it forward and people in the community really appreciate all she and her staff do.

Angelina’s used to be mainly take out, but earlier this year, she was able to raise enough money to expand into the adjacent office off of Rectory Street and Highway 64 so now there are more tables to sit and eat.  From the courthouse circle, take Highway 64 west about three blocks on the right is the Rectory Street. Unfortunately, Angelina’s is not open on the weekends, so you will have to try her creations Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Angelina's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Jack’s Corner Mediterranean Deli – Greensboro

Jack’s Corner is one of the local spots in Greensboro that you shouldn’t miss. It is adjacent to the entrance of the campus of UNC-Greensboro near a lot of student housing so a lot of the clientele consists of college students. When school is in session, try to time your stop at Jack’s Corner while the students are still in class because it can get pretty hectic over there in between classes.

The one issue with Jack’s Corner is the parking. They have a very odd shaped lot in front of the restaurant and the shape makes it a little hard to maneuver into a parking spot especially if there are a few cars in there. They is another lot off of Aycock Street behind the restaurant for an additional parking in case you can’t get into the lot up front. The city also added a median in front of the Spring Garden entrance limiting the number of directions that you can enter the restaurant.

Once you get over the parking problem at Jack’s Corner and get inside the restaurant, everything is smooth sailing from there. They have a couple of the menu items pictured on the wall like the gyro platter and the steak & cheese combo. They also have a giant menu printed and posted on the wall so you can figure out what you want without ever flipping through an actual paper menu. Place your order, pay for it and then sit down & wait for your name to be called and they will bring it out to your table.

I am a huge fan of hors d’oeuvre especially the kind that are served in triangles at parties. Growing up, I didn’t really know what I was eating when I was filling up my plate with the flaky triangle pastries filled with spinach, onions and feta that I found out later in life were known as spanakopita. I didn’t realize that the traditional form of spanakopita actually came in the pan instead of in those little delectable triangle parcels. Jack’s Corner gives you a little bit of both worlds with their spanakopita because they cook it in the pan but cut it into triangles and then serve it.

While I enjoyed their spanakopita, I don’t know if I would drop $2.09 on it again. It was decent sized and crispy just the way that I liked it when I was little but it just didn’t blow me away. I will probably get the falafels or grape leaves next time I am in there and feeling an appetizer. I am no expert on spanakopita so give it a try and let me know what you think.

I ordered the chicken gyro platter ($6.99) which comes with fries and a Greek salad. The chicken gyro has lettuce, tomato and cucumber sauce which is wrapped in a grilled pita. The warm, homemade pita and the fresh lettuce and tomato are great fillers for this hefty gyro but the spiced chicken strips were what give it so much taste. The chicken strips are very thin and grilled tender. They are covered in some “old world aromatic spices” which give them a salty and tangy flavor with a bit of kick. The strips are about the length of the pita so you taste a little bit in every bite.

I was glad that I ordered the platter instead of the combo because it came with the Greek salad. It was anything huge but the greens were fresh and the tomato was juicy making it a great side salad. The sprinkled feta crumbles and heavy oil & vinegar dressing made it pretty strong but I still dug it. The French fries were absolutely on point: crispy, hot and seasoned. It may sound a little sketchy but dipping them in the cucumber sauce turned out to be better to me than dipping than in ketchup.

One thing you may notice about Jack’s Corner is that they serve everything on paper plates. They are the strong Hefty type that hold up under moisture so you don’t have to worry about them folding under the pressure of whatever you are eating. It probably isn’t the best thing for the environment but I guess it works better for them in the kitchen as they are probably spending more money washing dishes.

There were a few complaints on Yelp about the cost of the meal compared to the portion size but I have never walked out of Jack’s Corner still hungry and irritated that I spent too much. I don’t understand it because most of the combos or plates are only about one dollar more than a combo at McDonald’s. Adding hummus or baba ghanouj ($3.99 for a plate & pita bread for either) to your meal will definitely tack on some money but that is just the nature of the restaurant industry.

Jack’s Corner Mediterranean Deli is one of Greensboro’s best kept secrets. You can be in and out of there fairly quickly with a great meal in your stomach plus you will supporting a family owned and operated restaurant. I suggest getting the gyros because they are fantastic but everything I have heard says to get some falafels whether it be in a basket or in a wrap. If you dig good Greek food, I think you will love Jack’s Corner.

Jack's Corner Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Zorba’s Gyro On A Spit – Hope Mills

Zorba's in Hope Mills

Unassuming strip mall location

I live and work in Fayetteville, but go to Hope Mills for haircuts. Don’t judge, once you find someone you like, you stick with them!

On my latest trip, I happened to stop at lunch for one of the offshoot “Zorba’s” that spawned in the ever-growing area of Hope Mills . I’ve been to the original on Raeford Rd. in Fayetteville many times.

I was glad to have the opportunity to give this location a try. Pulling up is hard because the location is borderline hidden because the shopping center is small and non-descript.

The original location is something of an institution and from what I have heard, their two new locations are upholding the tradition so I went in with high hopes.

There was a good size lunch crowd. It was noisy enough that I even thought to try to record the din because it reminded me so much of a traditional diner with all the sounds of people conversing, meals being prepared, etc. The audio did not come out, but believe me it was great.

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