Local Greek, Princeton, NJ – A Review

by artfuldiner on April 12, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, New Jersey, Opinion, Review, Wining and Dining

Local Greek

44 Leigh Avenue

Princeton, New Jersey

(609) 285-2969


Presided over by Tony Kanterakis – also co-owner with his mother, Chrisanthe, of the New Athens Corner Bakery in Highland Park, New Jersey – Local Greek made its debut on November 19, 2017. The restaurant, which is located north of Palmer Square, just off Witherspoon Street, across from Tortuga’s Mexican Village, is a bustling bistro cum – bakery & market.

Local Greek - InteriorThe cozy, diminutive interior, boasting wooden floors, white subway tile, whitewashed walls, and rustic wooden tables built by the owner’s first cousin, a general contractor and architect, is a big part of the restaurant’s appeal. And when the joint is jumping, especially at dinner, things can get pretty tight seating-wise. But that’s all part of the fun. Fortunately, there is a side room that helps alleviate the crush in the main dining area.

Authentic Greek cuisine is the order of the day, with meze – the Greek version of tapas (small plates) taking center stage. Sweet and savory homemade style pastries and desserts are made fresh daily in the restaurant’s bakery; and the market features imported items such as Greek olive oil, coffee, tea, chocolates, and snacks.

Local Greek - Tomato FrittersThe small plates change weekly, affording diners numerous seasonal options. They are also sizeable enough for couples or larger parties to mix and match as appetizers. Several of the usual suspects are present and accounted for – Dolmades (grapes leaves stuffed with rice and Greek herbs with yogurt sauce) and Hummus (a spread composed of mashed chickpeas, garlic, lemon, tahini & olive oil), for instance. For something a bit different, however, be sure to try the Kolokithokeftedes, zucchini fritters. My dining partner and I recently sampled a delightful variation on the theme, Tomatokeftedes (pictured) fritters filled with tomato, mashed potatoes, and feta cheese served with a zesty tzatziki sauce.

Local Greek - SaganakiOther interesting possibilities include Gigantes, large lima beans swimming in a Greek herbed tomato sauce; Xtapodi, grilled marinated octopus with herbs, olive oil, and vinegar; and four Greek Spreads, featuring tzatziki, spicy feta, eggplant, and taramosalata (salted and cured cod roe mixed with olive oil and lemon juice). On the other hand, it’s hard to resist the tasty charms of Saganaki (pictured), Greek flaming cheese drizzled with ouzo. As photogenic as it is delicious.

Local Greek - PastitioAs you move on to the entrées, the kitchen continues its excellent work. Especially recommended are those dishes that have become synonymous with Greek cooking… The Moussaka, a combo of eggplant, potatoes, and ground beef topped with béchamel sauce, is benchmark… ditto the vegetarian version. And speaking of vegetarian, the Briam, traditional Greek roasted vegetables combined with kasseri – a stringy-textured cheese made from unpasteurized sheep and goat’s milk – in tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese is also a first-rate rendition… But I was particularly taken with the Pastitsio (pictured) – often referred to as Greek lasagna – a stunning combination of tubular pasta, beautifully seasoned ground beef, and luscious béchamel sauce.

Local Greek - Stuffed Baby EggplantAnother traditional Greek presentation that deserves mention is the Papoutsaki (pictured), so named because the it resembles “little shoes.” A baby eggplant is hollowed out, filled with ground beef (or vegetables) and potatoes and then topped with béchamel sauce. The rendition from Local Greek is also served up with an attractive small salad. This is a relatively straight-forward dish, but one that my dining partner thoroughly enjoyed. A slight variation on the theme, also quite good, is the Gemista, tomatoes stuffed with ground beef accompanied by kasseri cheese and herbed rice & pine nuts.

Local Greek - SalmonOther interesting entrées include Spaghetti Bolognese, a meat sauce with decidedly Greek oriented seasonings; Stuffed Peppers, roasted bell peppers filled with herbed rice & pine nuts; Shrimp Souvlaki, kebab served over rice with avocado and baby kale; and a Mixed Grill Platter, an amalgam of Greek sausage, pork & chicken gyro, beefteki (beef patties), and Greek fries served up for two or four. My favorite, however, would be the simple but seductive Solomos (pictured), grilled salmon filet sided by luscious lemon potatoes and horta (sautéed greens).

Local Greek - GalaktobourikoDesserts (as noted above) are all made fresh daily in the restaurant’s bakery and are easily washed down with a double espresso courtesy of the highly rated Portioli Style Coffee. Baklava, of course, is the sweet ending that immediately comes to mind; and it is excellent… as is the Ravani (Greek-style lemon zest sponge cake), Karidopita (Greek-style walnut cake), and the bakery’s other offerings. My nod, however, clearly goes to the incomparable Galaktobouriko (pictured), fillo dough filled with semolina custard surrounded by a pool of Greek honey… And bear in mind that the kitchen also serves up an impressive assortment of savory homemade pastries as well as a variety of Greek-style breakfasts.

Whether stopping in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an afternoon pick-me-up, Local Greek has all the bases covered… deliciously. If you’re planning a noonday or evening visit, however, just don’t forget to BYOB.

Bon Appétit!


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: