Myself and the wife like Greek food. While we have some love for the gyro or the generic Mediterranean food shop (check out South Side 6 in Bowling Green, Ohio or Continental Grill in Kent, Ohio), pure Greek food is hard to get. Pure Greek food that is actually well-made and cheap is even harder to get.
When one makes it over to Pittsburgh and has hunger for well-made Greek cuisine, Pastitsio should be the place one hits up. Parking is a little iffy, especially with the sheer amount of visitors that Pastitsio’s neighborhood gets. However, one can grab a spot on a side street without much in the way of work – just look at the posted sign and ensure that someone doesn’t already have a chair staked out for the spot.
Pastitsio’s menu has a number of different sides and entrees, depending on how light or heavy visitors want their food. This means that hummus can start out a meal just as well as the stuffed mushrooms can. However, where I feel that Pastitsio truly shines is in their “pick 3” platter. Allowing patrons to pick out from a pretty representative menu is always nice, whether it be dolmathes, spanakopita, pastitsio, or kefalotiri cheese (and I’m even forgetting a few items).
Regardless of which three items one picks, an absolutely-amazing salad is part of the deal. Where many salads really feel dainty, especially those that try to pick out odd greens from the owners’ backyards, Pastitsio’s salad is truly filling. Big chunks of cucumber, green pepper, tomato, and lettuce all join together to create a symphony. The house vinaigrette ties things together with its inclusion of herbs.
The specific dishes do represent a variety of different flavors and tastes. The namesake dish is without reproach, its serving size practically enough to fill on its own. What was interesting about the pastitsio at Pastitsio’s was that it did not include a top layer of tomato sauce; Danica and I were perplexed whether it was a regional decision or just one made by owner Stamatis L. Bournias. Regardless, it is a tasty take on this classic dish.
Dolmathes, stuffed grapes tying together rice and herbs, are done different by practically any Greek restaurant. I remember them as a weak point of the menu from The Trojan Horse (Bloomington, Ind.), but as an absolutely magnificent part of the Greek cuisine at the Greek Festival in Columbus. Pastitsio’s dolmathes were great in that they were sufficiently small, avoided the stringiness present in a number of grape leaves, and had a good amount of rice in them. However, the amount of lemon juice seemed a little heavy.
Finally, the spanakopita was flawless, marrying just as much feta and spinach as was needed. For those that wished to avoid the phyllo dough, the kefalotiri cheese side (aided by fresh pita squares) was similarly strong.
While we’ve only looked at a small amount of the food that Pastitsio has to offer, we will likely stop back the next time we go to Pittsburgh. The seating may be a little limited (two tables and two snack bars), but the food and hospitality is amazing. For example, we (and the other table eating at the same time) were approached to test out a cheesecake base for a future dish. Where I’ve never been a fan of the dessert, there was a mild flavor and stunning texture that had me re-evaluating my taste. The next time you find yourself in Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh neighborhood), give Pastitsio a try.
Pastitsio Restaurant Review (3716 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201) / http://www.mygreektakeout.com