This Hole-in-the-Wall Life

Zorba the Geek lives at Greek Town Grill

I sing the praises of Greek Town Grill in Costa Mesa's happening East 17th Street District for its sleek décor (ceiling-to-floor windows, mosaicked counter, sexy lighting and chairs), delicious takes on such Greek-American classics as pitas and dolmades, and the fact that owner Jim Marutsos works with fresh ingredients. But what I love most about this vibrant hole-in-the-wall is its vigilant waiters—handsome men and women who don't mind if customers are incompetents.

Let me explain. My chica and I visited Greek Town Grill one recent Sunday afternoon, famished after a day of pruning her rose bushes. We stepped into Greek Town's air-conditioned bliss and ordered a couple of appetizers—feta cheese with kalamata olives for her and a pear-and-gorgonzola salad for me; our gyros would arrive later. The feta cheese appetizer, slabs of the salty cheese presented alongside a mount of olives, looked gorgeous but lacked pita bread. The chica flagged down a waitress and asked how much pita bread costs. "Don't worry about it," she replied, as the waitress asked the cooks for a large, warm pita. We tore the fluffy pita into smaller pieces and stuffed them with the tart double-whammy of feta and kalamata. Once the pita was gone, I cast my eyes forlornly toward the kind waitress. She smiled, and returned with another.

We continued with the salad, a glistening hill of leaves, candied walnuts, long pear slices and melted gorgonzola. It was everything a great salad should be: sweet, pungent, crunchy and refreshing. I had a bottle of Orangina ready, but the salad was so moist it wasn't necessary.

The gyros arrived, a roasted veggie for the lady, beeftekia for me. She ripped (ladylike, mind you) into a roasted veggie gyro notable for its color—slices of bell peppers, eggplant, onions and zucchini. I tried to savor my beeftekia, massive Greek meatballs painted with a cool layer of tzatziki sauce. But its earthiness demanded a beverage, and so I uncapped the Orangina. Frothy orange liquid erupted forth. Embarrassed, I kept eating my gyro, hoping no one would notice; my chica rolled her eyes, sighed and went to find some napkins. Suddenly, a waiter appeared, wiped up my mess and smiled.

I stammered a response, but none was possible. The Greek Town waiter ran off to clean up after another messy eater. I recounted this to my chica, who rolled her eyes again, thanked the waiter when he passed us by a couple of minutes later, and finished her gyro while gazing at the menu anew.

GREEK TOWN GRILL, 279 E. 17TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 515-2788; WWW.GREEKTOWNGRILL.COM.

 
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