It's a common summer Saturday afternoon for us: strolling down avenues of booths with a glass of wine in hand, listening to whatever band happens to be playing. There is food, but we abstain from it. Shopping to be done too, but we (usually) skip that too. This one is all about catching up with C. and K., who we love but rarely get to see.
We started the tradition shortly after we met, and hopefully it will continue for years to come. There are dozens of fantastic restaurants to choose from in my hometown, and our quartet has a habit of (inadvertantly) selecting brand-new establishments. Last year we went to Cin Cin Wine Bar shortly after it opened, the year before Vittoria Ristorante.
This year we parked at Opa!, a new Greek restaurant on Santa Cruz Avenue. By bizarre coincidence, Opa! is in the space that housed Vittoria until recently. The makeover includes dark wood floors and walls, with flat screen TVs playing Greek pop music. Ambient noise was a problem at Vittoria and unfortunately it's here too. Conversation in raised voices is a byproduct.
The space is long and thin which makes for an unusual dining room. It was packed when we arrived, and from our table we could see half a dozen on the sidewalk waiting patiently. Word has gotten around that it's a worth a try- a good sign!
C. and K. called ahead and discovered a $10 corkage fee, so they brought a bottle of merlot from Black Ridge Vineyards, a local favorite of theirs. By local I mean about 3 miles away. Yes, I love where we live.
The menu is good sized with lots of options. You can easily make a dinner of meze, or appetizers, if you want to go that route. We decided on one plate for the table to start, skordalia with fresh pita bread. Skordalia is a whipped spread of potatoes, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Delicious, especially with the pillowy pita bread.
The restaurant charges for a second helping of pita, which is a bit of a scam. It should be free-flowing at a place like this, or at least enough to finish your appetizer. It wasn't much more so I won't gripe much. But seriously guys, that should be complimentary.
After much debate over our entrees- pita sandwiches, pizzas, and souvlaki are among the choices- we all chose pita sandwiches. C. and Ray were the carnivores with gyro and beef pitas, and K. and I both ordered the seafood souvlaki pita.
Yum! The pitas come with hand-cut fries topped with feta cheese on the side, but I decided it was worth $2 extra for some salad. A very soft pita held shrimp, scallops, tzatziki, tomatoes, and red onion. The salad had very fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, along with olives and red onion dressed in olive oil, vinegar, herbs and feta cheese.
I demolished the pita and most of the salad; I was hungry and it was good. The seafood was perfectly cooked and tender, and all the accompaniments were fresh. I also stole a third of Ray's fries, which were really outstanding. They were hand-cut and pretty rustic, doused with lemon juice and feta, along with a dipping sauce of unknown ingredients, but known high calories and deliciousness.