Authentic Greek makes return to Main Gate

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Amy Johnson | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Amy Johnson / The Daily Wildcat

Bifteki souvlaki, a flavorful beef gyro, is a pita stuffed with meat, onions, tomatoes and plenty of tzatziki sauce.

While the sights and sounds of University Boulevard pass by the expansive window of Pelio Grill Greek Taverna and Catering, the authentic Greek cuisine served inside transports patrons to easy, alfresco dining that brings to mind the island of Mykonos.

The newly renovated Greek tavern sits on the southwest corner of University Boulevard and Park Avenue, having opened its doors last Wednesday after a 15-month hiatus. Owner George Markou closed down the restaurant, previously called the Fat Greek, after flooding caused extensive damage to the interior.

Pelio Grill has a new name and has undergone a complete remodeling — but Markou stayed true to the restaurant’s roots when it came to the menu of traditional Greek dishes featuring locally grown ingredients. In an era of uppity fusion restaurants and flavorless fast food chains, it’s refreshing to find a place that uses local, fresh ingredients to create distinct, cultural dishes.

Many items on the menu stand out immediately, with almost every option providing something — be it tzatziki, red peppers, feta or spinach — that makes it genuinely Greek. From the appetizer list, the dolmathes (pronounced dohl-mah-tes) are a salty, flavorful starter of chilled grape leaves stuffed with rice. The grape leaves are cooked well enough that they provide a slight resistance upon the first bite, but won’t leave you chewing eternally like overcooked seaweed.

The dolmathes, priced at $5, come with warm, doughy pita bread and are best dipped in the house tzatziki sauce, which is both creamy and citrusy. However, the sauce falls a little short of authentic, as a stronger flavor of dill is normally present in this traditional dressing. But the saltiness of the grape leaves ultimately saves the dish, and the lack of dill surprisingly works.

The gyro, an assortment of meat and vegetables wrapped in pita bread, is a Greek staple, so it comes as no surprise that Pelio Grill offers the dish with options of chicken, pork or bifteki (beef).

The meat on the bifteki souvlaki (sue-vlak-ee), priced at $6.50, leaves much of the flavor to the garlic marinade, and the meat is charcoal-grilled to provide a salty, smoky finish. Each souvlaki comes paired with red onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce, and promises the bold, fresh flavor of traditional Greek dishes.

For an extra $2, consider ordering the Greek fries alongside your meal. Not much is added to these fries other than salt, garlic and oregano, but let it be known that these are some of the best fries this side of Campbell Avenue. Use the lemon wedge from the dolmathes to complement the saltiness of the fries, or simply use them to soak up the rest of your tzatziki sauce.

Although the Greek tavern left University Boulevard with nothing more than a sign and some posters to promise its return for more than a year, Pelio Grill hardly skipped a beat upon its reopening. The waitstaff was attentive, the environment was relaxed and the food was bold and impressive. Instead of falling into the same old routine of Chipotle dinners every night, experiment with Pelio Grill, and you might find yourself suddenly enamored with Greek cuisine.

Grade: A-

Follow Amy Johnson @Amy_Jhnsn


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