Olympik Restaurant and Bakery’s Greek-American menu is authentic

Deidre Schipani – Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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Olympik Restaurant and Bakery is at 1662 Savannah Highway.

Olympik Restaurant and Bakery

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Cuisine: Greek, Italian

Category: Neighborhood Favorite

Location: 1662 Savannah Highway, Unit 120, Indigo Village Shopping Center

Phone: 556-9359

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Food: 2 1/2

Service: 3

Atmosphere: 2 1/2

Price: $-$$

Costs: Appetizers $2.99-$8.55, soups and salads $2.95-$12.99, sandwiches $5.69-$10-45, kebabs $8.99-$14.99, entrees $8.75-$18.99, vegetarian dishes $5.69-$9.45, children’s menu $2.99-$5.45, pastas $8.99-$12.99, low-carb menu $8.45-$14.99, sides and extras 65 cents-$3.25, desserts 89 cents-$3.25. Beer and wine $2.99-$4.65.

Vegetarian Options: Yes

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Bar: No, beer and wine available

Parking: Shopping center lot

Other: Carry-out, home delivery by Quick Foxes at 277-9271, online purchases of condiments and baked goods, special-order bakery, wheat and gluten-free dosas, plate sharing 75 cents, www.naderikitchen.org

More than a quarter-century is a long time for a restaurant to take up residence in one location.

For owners Ali and Charmaine Naderi, proprietors of Olympik Restaurant and Bakery, the time to make their move was now. But they were not going very far: Their loyal and regular customers from nearby neighborhoods would never forgive them if they relocated far from their Savannah Highway roots. And they did not.

With a schedule in place to hardly miss a meal, the Naderi’s planned to reopen in the Indigo Village Shopping Center, a few blocks away from their longtime home.

The new location provides a larger kitchen with the opportunity to bring equipment up to speed and in compliance with state health standards. More space would permit the bakery to grow its popular special-order business and produce the cookies and Greek desserts that they are famous for.

The space

The new restaurant proper is only a bit larger than the previous Savannah Highway location and features the Aegean blue and white-washed color palette that defines the look of many Greek-American restaurants.

Potted plants add bits of greenery to the tables, and shutters hang at the end of the booths, framing a vista to nowhere. Posters of the cliff-top monasteries of 14th- and 15th-century Greece share wall space with the modern monoliths of flat-screen televisions.

The space is spare; the warmth comes from the owners and staff who not only greet their regulars with the warm embrace of memory but also even scoot into the booths with them to catch up on their lives and satisfaction with their food.

The food

This is an affordable, family-friendly restaurant where a Greek dinner for two can be had for $18.99 and includes a quarter of a chicken, half of a gyro sandwich, a side dish and Greek salad for each person. This is true value dining.

Vegetarians will find a substantial menu of options including vegetarian pitas ($8.35), spanakopita ($9.45), melts, wraps and tofu. The Greek sides also are prepared without any meat or meat-products, so green beans, vegetable medleys and classic Mediterranean spreads can be enjoyed by those who adhere to a meat-free diet.

The Olympik dosa ($8.75) is a crepe-like wrap made from a rice and pea batter. Gluten-free, it can be filled with cheeses, onions, grilled tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, cheeses or avocado. Each order permits the inclusion of five items. Meat eaters can add gyro meat, chicken, shrimp or “Philly steak” for $2.50.

The menu is rich with combination plates and sampler platters. Substitutions are graciously permitted, and a sandwich easily can become a platter served with a side dish and small salad for a minimal up-charge.

The combination platters and samplers allow for small tastes of a variety of offerings and are the way to go if you are new to the cuisine or cannot make up your mind.

Mezes, the small plates of the Greek Islands, are a good way to begin ($5.99-$8.55). In these platters you can sample dolmas, which are grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice; hummus, the chick pea and tahini dip; olives; warm triangles of pita; feta cheese; and the cucumber-based tzatziki sauce.

Follow any of these with a warm bowl of soup ($3.99) and you have a meal.

The Greek lemon-chicken soup called avgolemeno was laced with lemon and would benefit from enriching with rice or orzo. “Meaty” lentil soup is vegetarian and nicely seasoned.

If you are new to the foods of the American-Greek canon, the folks at Olympik encourage you to ask for a sample.

We took them up on it and tried a tender casserole of pastitsio ($9.45), the Greek’s answer to lasagna, and the eggplant anchored moussaka ($9.45) that resonated with cinnamon. Each of these casseroles are served with a side dish, a salad, pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

For $13.20, you can combine souvlaki with Greek-style chicken. This entree included a side — Greek-style potatoes were my choice — and a small Greek salad ($1.45 upcharge) substituted for the side salad accompaniment. The chicken, marinated with lemon and spices, was tender and moist but tasted of a soy glaze that was unexpected. The portion was substantial and made for another day’s lunch. I was expecting that the Greek potatoes ($2.95) were the twice-cooked versions of my memory, made tender by simmering and then oven roasted to a crisp garlic and rosemary finish. The Olympik’s version is a boiled, seasoned potato that I found lackluster.

The gyros platter ($8.45) paired well-seasoned slices of spit beef and lamb topped with onions and tomatoes on a pita round. The only downside to this dish is that the chilled onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce quickly cool the meat and flatbread. The flavors, though, were spot-on.

The vegetable medley ($2.95 as a side) of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and herbs was slowed cooked to a meltdown of flavors that spoke to the cooking of grandmothers, the yia-yias.

Naderi’s career has strong roots in the pastry side, so do save room for dessert. Baklava ($1.99) was not overly sweet, and the honey glaze secured all the walnuts in place. An almond marzipan cookie (89 cents) can satisfy the sweet tooth of the gluten-free, and the bakery case will surely house a variety of daily cake flavors.

Friendly servers do their best to keep up with the dinner rush, but do bring your patience as this is a small operation.

Olympik Restaurant and Bakery offers great value and generous portions, and that may be the key to its enduring success.