On a frigid night, Opa Grille seems filled with warmth. Take note: The well-appointed place is much larger than it looks from the outside. And this evening, both dining rooms are full.
When you get a first impression that a restaurant is run confidently and well, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which isn't to say the new Opa Grille is perfect — only a pleasure to eat at.
For those who judge a Greek restaurant by its taramasalata, know that chef-owner George Labos makes a roe dip with just the right briny depth. If you order it as part of an appetizer combo, the plate also might hold spicy feta with roasted red peppers as well as a garlicky hummus. Slather any and all onto triangles of warm pita, both regular and whole wheat.
If only Labos had been more generous with the smoky grilled octopus, and refrained from cutting it into small bits before plating it with too much red onion. There's no fault to be found, though, in the flaky spinach pie.
A Greek salad, which comes gratis with some entrees, is standard and good. Avgolemono, or lemon chicken soup, has virtually no flavor one night but, on a subsequent afternoon, is citrusy and soulful.
Classic and comforting are both moussaka — layers of eggplant, ground beef and potatoes — and pastitsio, the Greek version of lasagna made with ground beef and ziti, each topped with a rich béchamel. Shrimp broiled in a garlic "scampi" sauce proves a hit. Even better is a special of shrimp Santorini, shellfish baked in a casserole with feta, sauteed spinach and a spicy red sauce. Stealing the show are two plump, tender, smoky grilled pork chops plated with bright sauteed spinach and rice.
Midday is when you'll find a true bargain: $8.95 for a fine souvlaki sandwich — either pork or chicken, both moist and juicy — served with either soup or a salad.
Women only: If you're considering dessert, you'll want to first check out the "skinny" mirror in the ladies' room. Then, guilt-free, order the sweet, flaky baklava or the rich phyllo-wrapped pudding known as galaktoboureko. Or both.