Every thing New: Gus Stavrides is master chef in the kitchen area of Kostas Grill. (Supplied Photograph)
As the five-yr anniversary of Kostas Grill Rustic Greek Cuisine methods on Feb. 2, proprietor Gus Stavrides is extremely grateful to his faithful prospects. With no them, perhaps Kostas would have joined the 60 p.c of restaurants that shut in just six months of opening, he said.
“This is a challenging organization, but if you offer excellent and fantastic company, your customers adore you,” he explained. “In the beginning my accountant informed me I was nuts to open a Greek cuisine cafe in the smaller town of Tuckerton. She stated, ‘A lot of people today right here really don’t know Greek food. You will have to teach them.’ But I communicate to all my customers – I experienced get hold of with each and every single particular person. They know they can talk to me, the man or woman who manufactured their dish, and it is very gratifying – people gave me some suggestions. Like stuffed grape leaves, in the commencing I didn’t offer you them, but persons requested for them, so I place them on the menu. In the commencing we experienced just a person site for the menu. Now we have a full scale menu, such as some American dishes – performed Greek fashion.”
Because Greece is an island nation surrounded by drinking water, fish is really vital to Greek cuisine. “And fish is very significantly a element of the Mediterranean food plan that is thought of so healthful. Ideal now we offer you 17 forms of seafood dishes out of a mix of 30 to 40 different dishes. Greek cuisine is 2,500 years outdated, so there are loads of recipes,” he reported.
“Yes, we have regional cooking, as well – but it’s much more like each and every town tries to outdo the other with their dishes. We are incredibly competitive.
MEZEDES: Grilled octopus with pesto, tomato and chick peas is prepared for takeout. (Equipped Photograph)
“Daily we have contemporary bronzini, and when accessible crimson snapper and black sea bass. Natural salmon, sushi quality, from Scotland is marinated in citrus and served with spinach, garlic and orzo (a Greek pasta). We also present clams, mussels and scallops from Viking Village and a pretty common Greek food stuff – grilled octopus and fried calamari as appetizers. And because we are from Baltimore, Md., we supply Maryland crab cakes using tremendous and jumbo lump meat with pretty little filling, and tender shell crabs in period.
“And shrimp,” he remembered with a jolt, “Athenian shrimp in Greek tomato sauce, shrimp Santorini with creamy ouzo (a Greek liquor), Greek tomato sauce with feta cheese about linguine.”
When questioned what will make a tomato sauce Greek fairly than Italian, he stated it is the Greek virgin olive oil and Greek oregano – “And it’s designed by a Greek in the kitchen!”
An appetizer, Corfu Shrimp, “is quite particular – five big shrimp around shredded phyllo with spinach and a bechamel sauce and shredded kefalograviera cheese. This cheese broiled or baked has an unbelievable taste.”
All the cheese manufactured in Greece is from sheep or goat milk and Stavrides only works by using Greek cheeses, oregano grown in Greece and Kalamata olives.
“I want to convey to the folks in this article new flavors and preferences. Even if they have never been to Greece, they can get pleasure from the reliable ingredients and flavors. And men and women want to uncover one thing various.”
Stavrides’ enthusiasm for recipes and his love of food were born with him on his family’s farm in Greece.
“Because I experienced so a lot energy as a minor boy, my mom put me to function in planning the veggies.” And it was in his mother’s kitchen that he acquired to make his have recipes.
Afterwards when he was more mature, he assisted harvest the tobacco, often performing 12 to 14 hours a day. “My mother would prepare the afternoon meal, and if I didn’t want what she served, I would go to the kitchen area and get ready a thing else. She could not realize how I could operate all day and then devote an hour cooking anything. But if you are performing all day, you want a reward – let us get pleasure from a food.”
GREEK Gourmet: Rack of lamb with asparagus and butter beans is all set for takeout. (Equipped Photo)
In addition to seafood, the staple meat in Greece is lamb. “We enjoy it. It’s a tremendous element of our delicacies, so we provide lamb shanks on the menu, and these are domestic lamb so they are more substantial, and our lamb souvlaki is created from the best aspect of the leg of lamb with herbs, grilled peppers and onions, and served above rice pilaf.
“One of the dishes I produced is lamb pot pie, and it’s particularly common. We also have rack of lamb and lamb burgers. I also make a Greek dip – slices from roast leg of lamb (in time) served on a gyro bun with fries and Greek au jus. I like to try out to twist the recipe from time to time to make it a small additional accessible.”
Apart from lamb, there are beef and rooster choices plus a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with a fig reduction as a glaze, a recipe Stavrides perfected. “It’s a very one of a kind flavor people who try out it really like it.”
Next doorway to Kostas Grill is a well-known health and fitness center, and the fitness consumers are primarily complimentary of the selection of contemporary salads that have their special place on the menu – the Greek with iceberg lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, crimson onion, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and home vinaigrette the Athens with newborn spinach, cucumber, tomato, chick peas, feta and property dressing the Super Greek with baby kale, shaved Brussel sprouts, pink cabbage, radicchio, Napa cabbage, golden raisins, olives, feta and dressing and the Horiatiki (village salad), which involves the very same as the Greek salad but without having the iceberg lettuce or pepperoncini — and dressed only with Greek virgin olive oil.
“Every salad is geared up refreshing practically nothing is prepped and put in the refrigerator. I explain to any new employees that to set a tomato in the refrigerator is to dedicate a sin! A refrigerated tomato doesn’t taste like a tomato.”
The most preferred with the fitness established is the beet salad, which features honey-roasted beets and manouri cheese – a cheese with the texture of ricotta.
Exercise FARE: Super Greek Salad with grilled hen. (Supplied Picture)
And there are 13 objects that can be additional to every salad, which includes keftedes, seared tuna, imported anchovy, Scottish salmon, gyro meat and extra.
A term or two about gyro meat. This is a compressed meat of lamb, beef and spices that is minimize from a vertical rotisserie broiler, normally served on a pita bread and topped with home made tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber dip). “We have the finest gyro in all of Ocean County,” Stavrides boasted.
“We make all the dips below, and I have a motto: If it’s a food items you can not make, don’t try to eat it. I know all the substances and how it’s designed.”
From appetizers to lunch platters to complete fish and conventional dishes these types of as moussaka with layers of potato and eggplant, pastitsio with macaroni and ground beef and spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese in flaky phyllo pastry) and even an American burger on fries with a slice of Greek gyro meat on top, then we appear to the desserts: baklava, flaky phyllo pastry with floor walnuts and cinnamon and drenched in honey galaktoboureko, levels of phyllo pastry with custard and sweet syrup kataifi, shredded phyllo pastry with almonds, cinnamon, oranges and sweet syrup karidopita, a walnut cake and rizogalo, or rice pudding.
But Stavrides also has special ice cream that he delivers each and every 7 days from Baltimore (he and his spouse lived in Baltimore just before shifting to Minor Egg Harbor) – a spherical vacation of 375 miles, he noted, “But it’s well worth it.” The olive oil and salt ice cream is contemporary and sweet, and a palate cleanser soon after a fish dish the honey graham ice cream has a yummy, velvety texture, and the strawberry and chocolate chip preferences like clean strawberries.
“I have a person shopper that constantly has the strawberry ice product,” said Stavrides. “This ice product is a concealed treasure in Tuckerton.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has place a pressure on Kostas Grill, as it has every other cafe, but Stavrides has set in all the correct procedures from the beginning. There are only 25 per cent of his desk seats readily available inside, and tables are spaced extra than 6 feet aside. The cafe also does a brisk takeout business. “Call us when you get there here, and we will put it outside for you to select up. If it is not all set, wait in the automobile and we will call you,” he defined.
“Inside we clear the tables, chairs every single time it’s in use we hold rigid seating preparations. When we have to deliver folks absent we come to feel the agony, but in the case of protection for all of us, it’s great to comply with that rule. All our staff use masks, and so far, no mishaps. Absolutely everyone has been healthy the total time, and we hope to proceed that.”
Stavrides stated his wife, Roni, and daughter Maria function the entrance of the house although he’s in the kitchen.
“The rationale we opened the restaurant 5 many years ago is for the reason that we know the town. My in-regulations acquired a property right here in 1967, and I fulfilled my wife in the 1980s, so we spent pretty much every single summer season here and the holidays. The purpose we opened the restaurant is simply because in some cases you want a different flavor from pizza and Chinese. Really do not get me improper – I enjoy all cuisines, but I preferred to give individuals an additional solution. Aside from the locals, we have people appear from as far absent as Toms River, Brigantine and plenty from Prolonged Seaside Island.”
The restaurant has a massive catering menu as nicely. “People say it preferences the similar as it does in the cafe.”
In less nerve-racking periods, Stavrides attempts to converse to anyone about their meals. “I want individuals to really feel cozy with who produced the dish, and I want their thoughts.”
Prior to the pandemic, the restaurant could seat 65 people today for a birthday occasion or rent the area for a wedding rehearsal dinner. “I hope we’ll be back to that quickly,” he claimed.
Kostas Grill Rustic Greek Delicacies is positioned in the Seaport Plaza at 161 East Most important St. in Tuckerton and is open Tuesday to Sunday. The hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. till 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Reservations are required only for parties of 5 or more all ought to be from the exact same home in the course of the pandemic. For takeout or for any other purpose, 609-879-5333 or pay a visit to kostasgrill.com.