Ellas, Haralambos “Bobby” Stamatopoulos’ Greek restaurant on Cortez Road opened its doors to the public for the first time on Friday.
I live within walking distance of Ellas and Greek food is one of my favorite types of cuisine, so you can imagine my excitement. I was not disappointed. The hummus tasted like hummus should and it didn’t have the bland quality of supermarket hummus. I’ve only made my own a couple of times and I certainly couldn’t hold a candle to what I had at Ellas.
Luckily, I had help from my friend Irina, so we were able to order several plates and try a variety of what Ellas has to offer. I was the biggest fan of the original Gyro, but then again I’ll eat just about anything with tzatziki sauce. We also enjoyed an order of kalamata and green olives, covered with a healthy serving of feta cheese and served on top of a layer of olive oil. I enjoyed a few bites of Irina’s Greek salad and together we knocked out most of an order of spanakotiropita, a spinach-feta “pie” stuffed between a flaky crust.
We finished with a bite of baklava and kadaifi, but just a bite. Our extensive lunch filled us up quickly and I’m sure baklava makes an excellent midnight snack.
Friday was Ellas’ soft opening, a term used in the restaurant industry for trial runs. When a restaurant hosts a soft opening, they typically don’t advertise and invite close friends or family to try the food and service first. Restaurants also host soft openings to avoid being bum-rushed before the staff is ready for larger crowds.
But word must have gotten out pretty quickly, because Ellas almost had a full house at one point during my visit. I don’t think Irina and I were the only ones who were anxiously waiting for it to open. Greg Stamatopoulos, Bobby’s son, said within the first few hours they already realized some minor changes to the menu were necessary.