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Greek Cove review: East Norwich restaurant offers well-made classics

The falafel platter made with house-made chickpea falafel

The falafel platter made with house-made chickpea falafel and served with rice and Greek salad at Greek Cove in East Norwich. Credit: Daniel Brennan

On a bright winter afternoon, Greek Cove, a friendly little strip mall spot is starting to shine. The minimalist space is awash in daylight, which falls on a mural of a white sun-washed building in Greece overlooking an azure sea. There’s sunshine, as well, in the restaurant’s sweet service. And in its exemplary falafel, the fried chickpea ball crunchy on the outside, bright green and herbaceous within.

Contrast all this to the scene of an earlier evening, frigid and blustery. Then, despite the presence of a small vestibule, cold winds swept the place whenever anyone entered or exited. Which was often, given the popularity of the takeout counter. That night, a bowl of egg lemon soup proved hot but a bit on the astringent side. Much more soul-warming was the flaky and verdant spinach pie, showcasing the skill of co-owners Angelo Mylonas and Milton Hatzinikolaou. That skill came through in their hummus and babaghanoush, accompanied by warm, pliant pita.

Here, a fine Greek salad may be ordered by itself, but it’s also standard on most entree platters. It’s made with bright, fresh romaine, seasoned cubes of feta, stuffed grape leaves, olives and sweet grape tomatoes. A pity, though, that those tomatoes aren’t part of the traditional lettuce-free horiatiki, done with cut-up whole tomatoes, characterless and out-of-season.

House-made gyro, fashioned of ground lamb and beef, is justifiably popular here. It works well on a combo platter, with well-seasoned pork souvlaki, but as a sandwich, it’s drowning in tzatziki sauce, which should be requested on the side. Savory, well-marinated chicken kebabs are grilled to dryness, as are whole boneless chicken breasts. And a burger, ordered medium-rare, is properly pink within but devoid of juiciness. There’s much more satisfaction to be found, at lunch, in a sandwich of Greek pork sausage with onions and peppers.

While creamy rice pudding is undermined by hard grains of rice, clove-infused baklava will appeal to those who favor that spice. Both are packaged to go, which might be your best bet, since the restaurant currently doesn’t serve coffee or tea.

What it does offer are some well-made Greek classics — and a whole lot of promise.

This is Joan Reminick's last restaurant review for Newsday. Read her goodbye note here.

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