TAUNTON — Fall River residents George Tambasidis and Olta Joxhe are the owners of the new Grilla Greek Kouzina in Taunton, but they won’t take full credit for the Greek specialties on the menu.
Sure, they renovated the old Dunkin Donuts building on the corner of Broadway and Monroe Street, and they cook and run the restaurant, but Tambasidis’ grandmother, Stavroula Vantsouris, gets almost all the credit for the recipes.
Grilla Greek Kouzina opened on June 5 and it was an encouraging first day, with a queue outside the door and across the parking lot. Business has been steady ever since.
“It’s been very busy. Thank God. My grandmother’s recipes worked,” said Tambasidis, who estimates that “95% of them, definitely, my grandmother’s recipes.
“And the rest is of our travelssaid Joxhe, “mainly from Greece.
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“You know, going to different cities, different towns, different islands, just trying different restaurants and seeing what we liked. And you know, we asked people what they used for herbs, ingredients and stuff So we kind of brought it all back after years and years of doing that.
“There are a few old recipes, but also a lot of new flavors,” added Tambasidis.
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Tambasidis is Greek, but was born and raised in Boston, and grew up and worked in his family’s pizzeria. Joxhe is Albanian, born in Albania but raised in Boston.
In their late twenties, the couple traveled extensively in Greece, tasting and chatting with locals about food along the way. They haven’t seen or heard of much Greek food in the area, so they decided to give it a go.
“We just saw an opportunity and we just wanted to bring something new to town, because there’s not much like what we do,” Joxhe said. “We just wanted to do something different, saw the opportunity and said why not?”
The large opening crowd confirmed that it was a solid bet.
“We had a line up to the open sign for our grand opening, so it was a good day,” Tambasidis said, pointing to the sign at the far corner of the property, “Super busy, man, super busy …as the entire parking lot is full, one line to the open sign.
“Sunday being Sunday, we kind of took a risk,” Joxhe said. “We didn’t know how people would react, but it was great.”
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What is on the menu
Most of the cooking and prep work is done behind the scenes in the kitchen, and orders are assembled at the front counter, which is decorated in bright white and blue, the colors of Greece.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are on the menu.
Bowls of rice and pasta topped with a protein, fresh vegetables, and homemade sauces, including tzaziki and secret recipe Grilla sauce, are popular; Joxhe says they just can’t meet Grilla’s demand for grilled chicken. The menu also includes Greek specialties like lamb chops, skepasti and spanakopita, with baklava and other homemade Greek pastries for dessert.
And of course, Grilla offers gyros in six varieties.
One example, as Tambasidis describes it: “We make a traditional Greek gyro, it’s called a Kota gyro, and we throw the tzatziki sauce inside then fresh tomatoes and onions, put the good chicken on it, then we put the fries on top of the chicken, then we wrap it in the soft pita bread.
“And then we throw our special house sauce on everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything.
Grilla also offers “pitzas,” think pizza on a pita bread, and the breakfast menu includes a number of breakfast sandwiches served on pita bread and a breakfast bowl served on a base. fries.
Grilla imports items and ingredients directly from Greece, such as seasonings, desserts, beverages, and even a small inventory of grocery items.
“We try to make it as authentic as possible, as you can tell from the salts we use, the balsamic dressing, everything,” Joxhe said. “It’s the little, little touches that count.”
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Tambasidis and Joxhe are grateful for the warm and busy welcome and hope Grilla has the potential to thrive in Taunton and develop another location or two or three in the area.
“You know, we want to keep growing,” Tambasidis said. “We love Taunton, and so far Taunton loves us too, you know, because they come and support it. So we’re going to try, you know, to keep this one here and then try to expand it in the future.
“People love it. It’s not just that it’s Greek food, it’s the way we do it. We make it here in front of you, it’s fresh, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Taunton Daily Gazette editor Jon Haglof can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print newspaper subscription to The Taunton Daily Gazette today.