November 9, 2006

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The new classic
Giorgio’s offers meze, upscale Greek eats
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.com

Two years in the making, the new Giorgio’s in Milford is all-around gorgeous, from the grounds outside to the interior to the menu that takes classical Greek and Mediterranean dishes and puts a modern spin on them.

“I am very, very happy with the new restaurant. It is everything I had hoped for,” said owner George Sklavounos.

Eleven years ago, Sklavounos opened the original Giorgio’s a couple of miles from the new location. Almost six years ago he opened a second location in Merrimack. Now that the new spacious location is open at the site of the former White Horse Tavern, the original Giorgio’s has closed.

In this new space on Nashua Street, walk through the front doors and a stone-cut waterfall greets you, filling the dining room with the soothing sounds of falling water.

Mahogany wood, granite, slate and charcoal grey upholstery give the room a sophisticated feel. Light fixtures made of Murano glass with organic shapes and earthy tones lend a bit of funkiness.

The dining room is on the right, and on the left, an expansive bar area. There is an extensive martini menu and the meze chef prepares small plates of tasty treats barside and becomes part of the show.

And speaking of meze, this is new to Giorgio’s. “Meze” is a term meaning small plates meant to be nibbled on while drinking, a bite or two to hold you over until your meal comes.

“Meze is perfect for small groups of people who meet for cocktails but don’t want to share one appetizer. With meze, you order four or five different ones and mix it up,” said manager Brendan Kelley.

Items on Giorgio’s meze menu are priced from $3 to $8 each and include twin bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp with a roasted red pepper and feta dipping sauce ($6), lamb souvlaki ($7) served with a balsamic black mission fig jam and roasted tomato gratin and a seafood martini ($7), which is shrimp, scallops and calamari in a lemon-cilantro vinaigrette.

If you’re sitting at the bar, order the saganaki, a large piece of pan-fried Greek Kefalograviera cheese that is flambéed with brandy on the barside grill and served over a slice of grilled bread.

The balance of the menu is extensive, but with flavors and prices for everyone, including a traditional Greek symposium meal ($34 per person).

The symposium menu is a chefs menu served family-style. Everyone at the table orders the symposium menu, then begins a stream of chef’s choice dishes, starting with meze, soup and a salad prepared tableside, before entrées served family style and an assortment of desserts.

On the other end of the spectrum, Giorgio’s popular grilled pizzas (available in a half as an appetizer) are available for lunch and dinner. The dough is fresh, as Sklavounos’s father Alex comes in every day to make it. For toppings, try the roasted mushroom blue ($9.99) which is a garlic and blue cheese crust topped with herb-roasted wild mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella or the shrimp and bacon fra diavolo ($10.99).

Salads at Giorgio’s are not a simple, side garden salad but a meal including the steak tip salad ($9.99) made of marinated steak tips, grilled portabello mushrooms crispy onions and crumbled blue cheese and the fried goat cheese, apple and candied pecan salad ($6.99).

Entrees range from the classics including parmagianas, marsalas, piccattas, alfredos and homemade lasagna to what the menu calls “chef’s creations.”

Here you will find Giorgio’s spin on moussaka ($15.99), the national dish of Greece, short ribs Klarinos ($16.99) which is braised ribs, wild mushrooms and carmelized onions wrapped in flaky pastry, a sausage stuffed calamari puttanesca ($16.50) and seafood stew ($18.99) made with shrimp, mussels, littleneck clams, scallops and swordfish.

“George really wanted a menu that had a lot of traditional Greek food, but with a modern twist. I think he achieved that,” Kelley said.

As for his favorite dish, Sklavounos says that he is very proud of the red wine braised lamb shank ($17.99). Slow cooked for   five hours it is served with a mushroom-parmesan risotto and crispy fried baby arugula and a lemon gremolata.

“I take great pride in the lamb shank. My chefs really know how to cook it right so that it falls of the bone,” he said.

Overall, Sklavounos takes pains to pay attention to details, and it shows in the menu and in the new space.

When asked if there was a third Giorgio’s in the works, Sklavounos laughed, saying that he would not answer that now because he is working on making this new one perfect. He then said to check back with him in a couple of years.

Giorgio’s Ristorante & Meze Bar
524 Nashua St., Milford, 673-3939, www.giorgios.com
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11a.m. to 9 p.m



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