September 11, 2008


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A slice of Greece, Asia, France…
Travel the world at Xtra-Chz
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum

If your favorite pizza-topping combo is hard to find, chances are the new Xtra-Chz takeout restaurant in Concord will have it.

Besides the traditional pepperoni, sausage, and plain cheese varieties, owner Nick Makris and his nephew, manager Dan Merrill, have 28 specialty pizzas listed on the menu. Yes, Hawaiian and buffalo chicken pizzas are on the list, but so are chicken Marsala, eggplant parmigiana, chili-dog and cheese, and the breakfast club (scrambled eggs, bacon, and feta).

“We have the most specialty pizzas in the state,” Makris said.

Makris — no relation to the Makris Lobster and Steak House — started in the restaurant business when he was 16 years old at Theo’s on Elm Street in Manchester. At the time (1982) his Greek immigrant parents worked in the mills.

In 1986, Makris’s parent were laid off from their mill jobs. His mom wanted to open her own restaurant in Concord, and needed her son’s help to get started. Just before opening day at Zoey’s Family Restaurant on North Main Street (where the Siam Orchid is now located), Makris was in an automobile accident with a tractor-trailer. As the only one in the family who knew about restaurants, he spent those first few days in the kitchen bruised and bandaged while he helped his family get things organized.

The next family restaurant, Zoey’s Pizza in Manchester, opened in 1992, and Zoey’s Pizza, Too started in Deerfield a few years later. That is where Merrill got into the family business.

“I started working for my uncle in Deerfield when I was 15,” he said. “I used to ride my bike down there to work. Now I’m 22 and working for him again.”

Makris’s mother wanted to retire in 2005, so the restaurants were sold and he went back into construction. However, with the economy’s downturn, he decided to get back into the restaurant business, this time just with his wife involved.

On a trip to Concord’s Steeplegate Mall to buy his son a present to celebrate a straight-A report card, he noticed the new Gateway Plaza under construction on Route 106. After he considered a few other places in the months that followed, he finally decided on the new shopping plaza even though the city and owner would not allow sit-down. Xtra-Chz, which gets its name from Makris’ e-mail address, is strictly take-out.

Makris and Merrill designed the state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen and Makris did most of the construction work, which includes a beautiful wood-paneled front counter, himself. The kitchen is much larger than is traditional for a place of this size.

“I can have 30 people working here without getting in each other’s way,” he explained.

The menu is also much larger and more creative than would be expected for a take-out place. Customers can travel the world with specialty pizzas such as the Greek (feta, mozzarella and provolone cheeses seasoned with garlic, oregano, and olive oil), American (barbecue back cheeseburger), French (chicken cordon blue — chicken, ham, provolone, and ranch dressing), Asian (grilled chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers and teriyaki sauce), Italian (ham, mortadella, capicola, provolone, and Italian dressing), and Mexican (taco seasoned hamburger, tomatoes, olives, onions and banana pepper rings).

The restaurant is just as creative with the calzones, subs and salads. There are also a variety of burgers, chicken tenders, wings, and sandwiches, as well as yummy desserts from Hoff’s Bakery in Medford, Mass. All of the dinner plates are served with both onion rings and French fries, an idea Makris got while eating seafood in Gloucester, Mass. He said, “A lot of people like both. If you don’t, just ask us to leave one out and we will give you extra of the other.”

The appetizer menu features fried feta, a unique twist on the fried mozzarella stick. It’s an idea that Merrill said they came up with while just hanging out at his uncle’s house one evening. Feta is sliced into small squares, coated with flour, deep fried and served with marinara sauce.

The menu is a compilation of items Makris liked from his long restaurant career. “I took all the good recipes that I saw from all the places I’ve worked through the years. I left out what didn’t work,” he said.

The restaurant opened on Aug. 6. Makris said the Web site should be up soon. He noted he has a great group of “kids” who work for him (ages range from 16 to 26), many who come in even when they aren’t scheduled to work. He hopes customers will be patient with them in these early weeks. “This is still new for a lot of the kids working for us, so be easy on them.”

249 Sheep Davis Road (Route 106), Concord, 856-8830. Delivery is available with a $10 minimum order.
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

9/4/2008 Flavors of Manchester

8/28/2008 D.I.Y. sausage
8/21/2008 Summertime and the living is chilli
8/14/2008 Weekend of festivals
8/7/2008 Going for pizza gold
7/31/2008 Red and juicy, from vine to table
7/24/2008 Meet the Manch-vegans
7/17/2008 Meet the winemaker
7/10/2008 Pupusas, cervesa y batidos
7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
6/26/2008 Oh, tartar sauce!
6/19/2008 From farm to grill
6/12/2008 450 pounds of lamb
6/5/2008 Travel the culinary world at BVI
5/29/2008 Chocolate throwdown
5/22/2008 Hit the road for some Yum-Yum
5/15/2008 Local, gluten-free and ready made
5/8/2008 The return of brownies and pasta
5/1/2008 Have a fiesta
4/24/2008 Noshing and shopping
4/17/2008 Celebrating with Greek eats
4/10/2008 Drive-ins open for the season
4/3/2008 Noshing for a cause
3/20/2008 The Easter Bunny brings dinner
3/13/2008 The Irish Spirit
3/6/2008 The sweet season
2/28/2008 Cambodian (or Italian) made easy
2/21/2008 Fresh fish comes to Nashua
2/14/2008 Hearts and fibers
2/7/2008 A romantic dinner for two
1/31/2008 Celebrate Mardi Gras
1/24/2008 Morroccan in Milford
1/17/2008 The chef is inn
1/10/2008 Italian street food in NH
1/10/2008 The contorni approach
1/3/2008 Like Disneyland for foodies
12/27/2007 More food and wine events, a menu for the bar
12/20/2007 Lots of dough
12/13/2007 Gifts for gourmands
12/6/2007 Making spirits really bright
11/22/2007 Just don't ask them to cook
11/15/2007 Easy as pie
11/8/2007 Italian eats, bistro style
11/1/2007 Bringing Italia to New Hampshire
10/25/2007 Trick or treat, the grown-up version
10/18/2007 Shop where the pros go
10/11/2007 Enjoy apple season from orchard to plate
10/04/2007 Tradition on the menu
9/27/2007 Meet your pig
9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki — a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch