Greek for the family: Dimitriou's in Pelham
March 14. 2017 6:57PM
Dimitriou's baked lamb, aka braised lamb shank, is served in a delcious tomato based sauce that made the brown gravy on the side of mashed potatoes superfluous.
Inside, it’s a simple space, a wide, open room filled with four-top tables and booths along the windows. A long bar/counter extends across the far wall, in front of the kitchen.
The front door opens directly into the dining room. As we stood there, wondering if we should wait to be seated, a staff member at the counter waved at us and told us to sit anywhere. So we grabbed a booth in the front corner and were quickly greeted by one of the two waitresses that we saw on duty.
The dinner menu is extensive, with sections devoted to appetizers, salads, “surf,” “turf” and pasta. (In diner style, there’s even liver and onions: $11, if you’re interested.) It’s the kind of fare you might expect from a “family restaurant,” with one major exception: a full page of “Homemade Greek Specialties,” which is what convinced us to drive to Pelham on a dark, cold Saturday night.
Our son, The Bottomless Pit, hasn’t been party to our recent Mediterranean expeditions, but since he was home for the weekend and hungry, he agreed to tag along and expand his culinary horizons.
Most of the items on the Greek Specialties entree menu are also available as entrees. We spent a few minutes over drinks coming up with an ordering strategy to sample as many of the Greek dishes as possible without duplication.
Mrs. Gourmet decided to start with the appetizer serving of Pastichio ($9), while I opted for an order of Stuffed Grape Leaves ($8). When they arrived, we were shocked by the huge size of the servings. Our waitress explained that the appetizer and entree portions are the same size; the only difference is that the entrees come with two sides.
My stuffed grape leaves (four of them) were precisely wrapped bundles each about the size of a short Italian sausage, stuffed with a finely ground combination of ground beef, rice, herbs (dill and mint, in most instances) and spices. They were sitting in a pool of egglemon sauce. My dining companions thought the lemon sauce was a little too strong, but I thought the contrast with the mildly spiced, slightly sweet stuffing was terrific.
The pastichio, featured a layer of long ziti-like noodles, another of ground beef lightly seasoned with nutmeg or allspice, and topped with a thick layer of bechamel. Mrs. G remembers a killer pastichio served in the cafeteria at a former workplace. She didn’t think this one was as good — a bit on the bland side, thanks to an overabundance of bechamel.
TBP didn’t fully buy in to the “expanded horizons” concept with his appetizer order, opting for scallops wrapped in bacon ($13), which were crispy, salty, moist and sweet in all the right places.
He came around with his dinner order, the chicken kabobs ($14). With a slightly tangy marinade, the chicken was thoroughly grilled but still moist, sharing the skewer with peppers, onions and tomatoes. He chose a cup of clam chowder as one of his sides, which he thought was good, but standard.
I chose the spinach pie ($12), and was very happy with the moist, buttery and brightly flavored combination of spinach, soft-cooked onions and feta cheese in layers of phyllo. With my sides of a small Greek salad and a cup of tomato orzo soup (almost like a thin marinara sauce), it made for a great combination.
Mrs. G was the entree winner with a repeat of the dish she ordered a few weeks ago at Matbah in Manchester: braised lamb shank, listed on the menu as Baked Lamb ($15). A huge bone-in piece of flavorful lamb, moist and tender as could be, braised and served in a tomato-based gravy. She chose the mashed potatoes with gravy (brown) and string beans for her sides. Had she known how good the tomato gravy was, she would have asked to hold the brown gravy on the potatoes. She’s starting to think that she’ll order lamb shank whenever she sees it on a menu — and I don’t blame her.
Thanks to the entree-sized appetizers and, um, entrees, we decided it would be in our best interest to order desserts to go: two orders of baklava ($4 each) and one rice pudding ($3.50). What they lacked in presentation thanks to their takeout containers, they more than made up for with rich, wonderful sweetness. The baklava was flaky yet nearly dripping with honey, and the rice pudding was the perfect consistency, deeply infused with cinnamon that hit most prominently on the nose and more gently on the palate. Wonderful desserts.
Since we started our Mediterranean kick, we’ve loved the new and different dishes and flavors we’ve been exposed to, and we’ve been especially pleased with the value. Thanks to the reasonably priced Greek dishes, our tab for three apps, entrees and desserts, with two beers and a soft drink, came to $94.
As we enjoyed our dinners, several parties came in and got familiar greetings from the staff. Based on what we experienced, “family restaurant” is a fitting description for Dimitriou’s, and we can see why families in Pelham would keep coming back.