Greco Fresh Grille

Just Say Yes

Greco Fresh Grille serves tasty twists on familiar fare

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Ray Sepesy

Rule No. 1 when visiting with Greek people: Never say “no” when someone offers you food. That insistence on serving and sharing delicious fare is part of the Greek experience known as philoxenia, an expression of hospitality and everything that goes with it.

At Greco Fresh Grille, that philosophy takes the form of genuine and occasionally surprising interpretations of traditional dishes from the islands that make up the country of Greece.

Greco Fresh Grille began in Charlotte when Vasili “Bill” Pahountis moved south with his family. Pahountis had grown up working in his family’s diner in Montville, New Jersey, and eventually came to own several of his own. Like many other Northerners, when friends described the pace of life in the Queen City, Bill and his wife, Irene, decided to make the move. That was in 2009. They opened their Blakeney location in 2011, and others followed on Colony Road, in Wesley Chapel and in Fort Mill. The Fort Mill location has been licensed, and the family is hoping the inquiries they’re receiving will lead to expansion in the Carolinas.

With casual and modern decor in light, cool tones, each of the four restaurants focuses on the food, not fussiness. Especially at Blakeney, guests often order their meals to enjoy outside at tables in a pleasant common area where families gather to dine and relax. And with warmer weather and longer days ahead, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the freshness of spring’s seasonal flavors.

Consider the typical “Greek salad” familiar to most in the U.S. As it turns out, that bowl of iceberg lettuce doused with dressing and scattered with a few vegetables is really just a tamed-down take on the real version. Here, diners will find an authentic peasant salata instead. This is a vibrant blend of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, mild green peppers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and plenty of oregano, dressed with a simple vinaigrette. The salad contains no lettuce. (There’s an American-style menu option for those who do like lettuce.)

Peasant salata, the authentic Greek salad, and lemon oregano fries are tasty favorites.
Peasant salata, the authentic Greek salad, and lemon oregano fries are tasty favorites.

Tangy lemon oregano fries are the perfect accompaniment to crowd-pleasers such as traditional gyros wrapped in fresh pita. Platters can be creatively combined to include an array of appetizers with house-made tzatziki and one of the rotating hummus flavors, such as rosemary lemon, roasted red pepper with feta, chipotle and others. Lots of vegetarian and vegan selections are available along with several that can be made gluten-free.

Iced-coffee aficionados may not realize that the sweet, frothy drink known as a frappé originated in Greece. It’s true. And when you sip that cool and creamy drink, and nibble on Irene Pathountis’ homemade walnut and cinnamon baklava, you come a little closer to understanding what philoxenia is all about. That spirit of hospitality is all the more reason to say “yes” anytime there’s an opportunity to enjoy Greco Fresh Grille.

Irene and Bill Pahountis enjoy serving baklava and frappés.
Irene and Bill Pahountis enjoy serving baklava and frappés.