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Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Search of the Best Greek-American Cuisine in Massachusetts


Article and Photo by Eric H., at VisitingNewEngland.com

I wasn't born Greek, but my taste buds definitely have some lineage to the Acropolis -- not the famous Greek landmark, mind you, but the former Greek-American restaurant near Porter Square in Cambridge, MA.

At a very young age, I felt a strong affinity with baked lamb, rice pilaf, and Greek salads. At the Acropolis, the stoic bald smiling Greek host, the water boy who rushed to fill glasses after a first sip, and the eight-track player playing "Never on Sunday" every few minutes with its short loop, provided joyful childhood memories. What made the Acropolis most satisfying, however, was that succulent Greek baked lamb with rice pilaf --- the precursor to eating perhaps a ton or two of Greek food since age seven.

Sadly, the Acropolis closed in the early 1980s, but since then I have found some worthy contenders that deliver this delicious cuisine. Taso's Euro Cafe might just be the best, located at the tiny Norwood airport in Norwood, MA (125 Access Road, 781-278-0001). The plain-looking, over sized sub shop-like dining room yields some amazing souvlaki, pastichio (Greek lasagna consisting of a pasta and cream sauce mixture that is layered with meat sauce), and a Greek baked lamb special -- with the right sauce mix of tomato, nutmeg and cinnamon -- that we wish was on the menu every night. It's about as close in quality to the Acropolis as you can get.

Christo's in Brockton, MA (782 Crescent St, Phone 508-588-4200), has been a long-time mammoth-sized Greek-American restaurant that still turns out a fantastic Greek salad, a decent baked lamb (a little fatty, at times) and an absolutely terrific Greek pizza. The Aegean in Watertown, MA (640 Arsenal St., Phone 617 923-7771), doesn't thrill me with its rather sterile atmosphere and not-always-friendly service, but its chicken, egg and lemon soup, moussaka, grape leaves, spinach pie and of course, an ample and tasty baked lamb with rice pilaf ranks amongst the best Greek food we've sampled in Massachusetts.

In Belmont, MA, the Andros Diner ( 628 Trapelo Rd., Phone 617-484-7322) -- open for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- makes a fabulous Greek salad and homemade dressing, lamb souvlaki, and kebobs. The dining rooms are a bit cramped, but this tiny restaurant always draws the crowds and for good reason -- the Greek food, as well as other traditional diner-type food, is almost always well-prepared and at a reasonable price.

Of course, I have to wait a year for my favorite gyros pita sandwich at the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) fair in West Springfield, MA, held annually in September. Demitrio's makes this huge sandwich, loaded with lamb, tomato, onions, and tzatziki sauce. It's worth the wait, but it sure would be nice if Demitri's had a restaurant of its own in the Boston area!
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