|by Jennifer P. Rubinstein|
|A Touch of Greece in Rehoboth
Located in a strip mall between the GNC and the Food Lion, Zorba's is the kind of restaurant that you might try while on vacation just looking for sustenance, but as soon as the food arrives you realize you've found a gem. It is also a favorite of locals who have been eating there for many years, even though it has changed hands a few times.
As I sat down to write, I still had a food hangover from our feast at Zorba's the other night. The current owners, Noula and Pete Panagakos, relocated from New York to the Rehoboth Beach area and purchased the restaurant (then named Ocean Point Grill) three years ago. They recently renamed it Zorba's and overhauled the menu in order to make it more their own. Boy, am I glad they did! The new menu is great.
Zorba's actually has several menus. They offer traditional American food like burgers, many seafood items, Italian fare, and, of course, Greek food. Be sure to check it all out before making your choice. We tried a little of everything, loved it all and can't wait to go back.
Let me start, as I usually do, with cocktails. They have a full bar, and I ordered the special Zorba's cocktail which was sweet and summery with vodka, orange and banana liqueurs and juice. It was a beautiful happy drink served with a delicious strawberry on the side of the glass. I didn't get a chance to try the house specialty, a White Sangria, but a group at the table next to us ordered them and enjoyed them.
You could easily make a meal out of appetizers alone at Zorba's. Our wonderful server, Eleni, who also happens to be Pete and Noula's daughter, started us off with the spreads sampler, spanakopitakia, tiropitakia, wings, and crab cakes.
It's easy to get intimidated by the Greek names of some of the dishes with all those syllables, but don't let it stop you from ordering these items. Everything is so delicious. Luckily, the menu offers excellent descriptions along with the Greek names, so you don't have to ask your server to describe every single thing. If you do have questions, though, Noula and Eleni will be more than happy to explain about the dishes.
The spreads sampler is your choice of four spreads served with pita bread. We had the tzatziki (yogurt cucumber), the roasted eggplant, fish roe and hummus. Forget what you think you know about eggplant, hummus or tzatziki. These were different from anything I've had before. All of the spreads are homemade with wonderful texture and seasoning. Fresh lemon juice provided a nice balance, tang and freshness to all the spreads. We enjoyed them all very much. If we had to pick a favorite, though, we would go with the tzatziki. Sometimes yogurt sauce can be watery, but not at Zorba's where it is thick and rich (thanks to extra sour cream). I found myself wanting to slather it on everything.
The spanakopitakia (spinach) and tiropitakia (cheese) are little baked filo dough packages of heaven. We loved them both and call it a tie between the two. Both are served very hot, so be careful. The spinach one is well flavored with feta, herbs and garlic while the cheese version is filled with some of the fluffiest cheese I've ever had. The flaky phyllo dough on the outside provides a moment of crunch before it melts in the mouth and gives way to its wonderful contents.
Next to arrive were the wings and crab cakes. Wow. The wings are served with hot sauce and homemade blue cheese dressing on the side. I enjoyed them served this way so that they stay crunchy. The wings themselves were meaty and delicious with liberal seasoning that led me to lick my fingers after eating them. I feel like there should be a pause before I describe the crab cakes. My honey, Sharon, who was raised in Maryland, and can pick crabs a mile a minute, often says that her mother's crab cakes were the best. At Zorba's the other night, Sharon also said this, "These are the closest to my mother's I've ever had." Yummy. Nuff said?
Needless to say, we were boxing up leftovers as fast as we could because the food kept coming. For entrees, we tried the Chicken Parmigiana and the Moussaka.
The Chicken Parmigiana is prepared in house, pounded out and battered right there in the kitchen, then quickly fried and baked with cheese and served with spaghetti on the side. After trying the chicken, I realized that I had eaten a lot of fried things, but none of it had been greasy. Noula said that her husband Pete runs the kitchen and tries very hard to make sure nothing is greasy.
I have heard that this is true of the breakfasts as well: pan-cooked omelets come out fluffy and not greasy.
Pete came out of the kitchen to check on us a few times and make sure that the food was okay. His thick Greek accent and rugged good looks made it easy to picture him as a young Spartan soldier.
You may have noticed I haven't written about the Moussaka yet. For those of you unfamiliar with Moussaka, it is a traditional Greek dish. Zorba's version was absolutely terrific. The bottom layer is ground meat and sauce, topped with thinly sliced eggplant, and then on top of that is a top layer of creamy potatoes. The eggplant was flavorful and delicious. The whole thing was fantastic.
Zorba's takes its name from the novel Zorba the Greek, written by Nikos Kazantzakis, in which lessons are learned from the character named Zorba, a free-spirited peasant with an unquenchable love of life.
If you love life and food, you'll love the atmosphere and food at Zorba's where their menu boasts, "Be a part of our family...come sit at our table."
Zorba's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located in the Food Lion Shopping Center on Highway One at 17 Market Place in Rehoboth Beach. They can be reached by calling 302-227-1127.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 11 August 08, 2008