Greek-American comfort food
Dishes at Opa! are only vaguely Mediterranean, but very satisfying
Opa! is a Greek-themed restaurant. Actually, it's vaguely Greek, more American in calorie count, the jumbo-portioned dishes affordably priced. There are Greek names to the dishes and "Visions of Greece" looping on dining-room flat screens, but the rest, my friends, is all-American comfort food.
Opening in May 2011, Opa! replaced the Moroccan-inspired Zitune. Some decor modifications were made, but not many. The space is grotto-like with dark-stained wood floors, tables and chairs; and faux stones lining the walls and abutting the ceiling. A bar occupies one-fourth of the main dining room. Lighting is recessed. Happily, there is no echo.
The restaurant is popular. I visited at both lunch and dinner times and the place was ever-busy, with loads of families in early evenings. The menu is lengthy, a something-for-everyone approach, from chic sliders to loukoumades (Greek doughnuts
Opa! is a recent restaurant entry, starting up in 2008, that now has three locations including Los Gatos and Willow Glen. The company is primed for expansion, coming soon to Walnut Creek. The menu was inspired by family recipes from one of the original partners, George Tsaboukos, a chef who has since passed away. While there is no executive chef, the line cooks are well trained.
The regular menu lists nearly 70 items plus specials, desserts and beverages. It takes a while to ferret through so many offerings. Yet despite the busy restaurant, I was never hurried, never had a sense of being rushed. The waitstaff was attentive.
While the menu lists numerous mezes/starters, there are many other offerings that would make worthwhile starters. The pita pizzas, as well as the various dips and spreads, could easily be shared appetizers. Portions are very large.
Melitzanosalata ($6.99) was two mounds of roasted eggplant with spices, olive oil and garlic — a little too heavy on the garlic. The accompanying pita bread was thick, warm and delicious.
Zucchini drops ($9.99) were four big balls of shredded zucchini mixed with feta cheese and served on top of a Greek yogurt sauce. Large portion, appetizing and filling.
The restaurant's baby back ribs ($10.99) were fork-tender and fell off the bone. The pork was topped with a sweet honey glaze and served with onion rings and a green salad. It's a meal in itself, listed as a "starter."
Another listing in the starter category: the Opa! sliders ($9.99). Three mid-sized burgers were each topped with a different Greek-inspired sauce: spicy feta, horiatiki (Greek salad) and tzatziki (yogurt, cucumbers, olive oil). Good-tasting but bigger than sliders usually are, so be careful how much food you order.
One of the signature dishes was pasticio ($14.99). I didn't care much for it. It was a heavy cheese- and pasta-laden casserole with not much evidence of the ground sirloin nor the seasoned cloves and nutmeg it was supposed to have. The bechamel sauce added another zillion unnecessary calories to a very bland dish.
The psari psito sti skhara ($22.99), on the other hand, was delicious. The boned, fleshy, Mediterranean branzino had been seasoned with an olive-oil vinaigrette and was served with braised greens (horta) and oven-roasted potatoes.
Pork souvlaki ($14.99) were two skewers of tender marinated pork seasoned with fresh oregano and fresh lemon juice. For my choice of potato, I chose the Opa! fries, thick-cut and covered with both creamy and crumbly feta. While a side of mustardy Opa! sauce accompanied, I loved just squeezing more lemon over the entire dish. This was my favorite entree.
I also liked the Greek pita pizza ($9.99) with tomato sauce, feta, mozzarella, olives, artichokes and Greek sausage. Opa! has two types of pita baked specially. One is the typical flat pocket bread for sandwiches. The other is thinker and spongier, perfect for the bigger-than-I-had-imagined pizza.
For dessert, the bougatsa ($7.99) consisted of phyllo dough enveloping a mixture of sauteed green apples, whipped ricotta and cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar, all drizzled with raspberry and caramel sauces. Gooey, caloric and not noteworthy enough to inspire.
Loukoumades ($7.99) was the Opa! version of Greek-style fried doughnuts — and who wouldn't like that? Eight crisp doughnut nuggets, tossed in cinnamon and sugar, were drizzled with Greek honey then sprinkled with walnut crumbles. To add to the sinfulness was a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. This will definitely conclude your eating for a while.
Opa! has a full bar and cocktail menu. The wine list is diminutive but prices are reasonable and pair well with menu items. It also offers a weekend brunch.
Opa! might not quite be an authentic Greek dining experience but it's affordable and a good place for families — and you will never go away hungry.
325 Main St., Los Altos
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Credit cards: yes
Parking: city lots
Alcohol: full bar
Corkage: first bottle free, $10 thereafter
Outdoor dining: front patio
Party facilities: yes
Noise level: moderate
Bathroom cleanliness: good