My big fat Greek dinner: Local spot offers authentic cuisine

Mediterranean-style cuisine is now available locally at Mikonos in Ewing. (Katie Occhipinti / Columnist)

The Mediterranean diet is famous for being one of the healthiest in the world. Popular dishes are full of vegetables and provide a healthy combination of fats and lean proteins from foods like fish, nuts and olive oil.  It is not easy to emulate Mediterranean-style cooking in an area dominated by all-American classics like pizza, burgers and fried chicken. This past March, Paul Tapsas and co-owner Kostas Skordas brought basic, authentic Greek cuisine into our backyard. The new restaurant, Mikonos, located at 50 Scotch Rd. in Ewing, has a diner style feel with a “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” flair.

Mikonos got its name from one of the most popular destinations in Greece and home to its founders, the island of Mykonos. The small dining room is half sunroom, which perhaps is meant to simulate dining in Greece, which more often than not takes place outdoors, a luxury New Jersey does not provide. Booths and tables are covered in blue-and-white-checkered tablecloths complete with matching bright blue chairs. Walls are decorated with large, scenic images of the motherland. Granted, the atmosphere surely will not transport you to the beautiful island of Mykonos, but the authentic Greek food just might.

The owner and chef are not new to the scene of Greek cuisine — they have over 20 years of experience in the industry. They have been involved with restaurants in Greece and own other Greek restaurants in Toronto, Canada. The most important thing on their résumé is that they are really Greek.

The traditional Greek ingredients used in the restaurant, including feta cheese, olive oil and yogurt, are directly imported from Europe, said manager George Piergaro. “Greeks come from quite a bit away to eat here,” he said.

Kim Hartzell, a senior psychology and early childhood education major at the College, started serving at Mikonos in September.

“I may be biased, but I just love the food here,” she said. Having spent some of her summer traveling through Greece with her mother she has something to compare it to.

There is nothing fancy about Mikonos but then again anyone who has been to Greece knows it is not a very fancy place. They currently serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, but plan on stopping breakfast in January because of its failure to draw a morning crowd.  Overall, the menu is fairly priced and portions are generous.

“For college students on a budget, the lunch menu is great,” Hartzell said.  The most popular lunch item is the chicken or beef and lamb gyro served with pita, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a side of tzatziki sauce for $7.

The best way to order at Mikonos is family style. Agree on getting several traditional dishes to share, and start off with Dolmanthakia, the Greek name for their homemade grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. If you are feeling brave, try the tender octopus grilled to perfection served in olive oil, vinegar and seasoned with parsley and oregano.

Although a Greek salad and a piece of baklava for dessert would taste a lot better on a beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Mikonos is definitely a fun night out with friends, and it’s completely worth the cost for a taste of healthy, solid authentic cuisine.

“Greek food leads to healthier living and there is no other restaurant in the area like it,” Piegaro said.