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Same old Greek goodness at Olympia July 14, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Taste World.

New digs, but the same old Greek goodness at Olympia

A freckle-faced girl has chosen a pretty pink headband for her family’s visit to Olympia’s new Bradley Square location.

She sits prim and sweet, slowly nibbling away at a chicken strip’s breading. Nearby, a friendly preschooler stands on his chair to peep over a room divider and say hello to diners behind him. Servers hurry about, taking time to drop a smile here and birthday wishes there, despite the dinner rush. Old friends catching up clog a waitress’ path, and orders are backed up in the kitchen, but no one seems to mind the chaos. This is a true family restaurant.

Olympia has been the laid-back, local Greek place for a long time, and its late-May move from Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington hasn’t changed that. Familiar faces serve the restaurant’s Greek standbys along with plenty of seafood, Italian and stuff kids will eat, all in a tight green and pale coral dining room that still has a fish tank.

Hummus is good evidence of Olympia’s seasoned kitchen. A deft hand has perfectly balanced garbanzos, tahini and lemon juice in a dense dip that’s easy to scoop but doesn’t drip from soft, warm pita triangles. Order it on the mighty Zeus platter and you’ll also get a feta-rich triangle of spanakopita, a few stuffed grape leaves, a mound of tart, garlicky skordalia (potato spread) and loads of fried calamari, shrimp and fat, sweet scallops.

The heavy seafood menu may surprise some diners used to typical Greek listings of gyros, Greek salad, kabobs and leg of lamb. But remember that Greece is a peninsula hacked by time into lots of little islands scattered in the Aegean Sea. Fish is a key part of the cuisine and it shows up fried, stuffed, sauteed and baked at Olympia. Grouper Mykonos, on special one night, featured a half-inch-thick filet baked under sweet, chunky onion sauce and finished with broiled feta.

Keep in mind, too, that the ancient Greeks immigrated to southern Italy and ethnic Greeks live there today. Olympia honors the Boot with Alfredo, scampi and red-sauced favorites such as chicken, eggplant and veal parmesans. The veal isn’t pounded, however, and sometimes the thick steak arrives dry from overcooking.

Choice is wonderful for families, but Olympia’s best dishes are pure Greek, including substantial broiled beef kabobs with bell peppers; tall, crisp, cinnamon-spiked baklava; and generous Greek salads with peperoncini, Kalamata olives and thick tomato wedges.

The Olympia Special version of the salad is a favorite among regulars, many of whom like it topped with shrimp sauteed in the restaurant’s “special seasoning.” Fans say if you don’t ask for the seasoning, you may not get it.

“That’s the big change I see since Olympia moved,” said one devotee, who suddenly cut her advice short. An old friend approached the table just as her favorite waitress walked by.

Cuisine: Greek, Italian and seafood
Location: 5629 Oleander Drive, in Bradley Square
Phone: 796-9636
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
We say: If you shun shops called ‘family restaurants,’ give Olympia a try. Service is friendly and the menu has something for everyone, including the adventurous Greek palate.

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