One of the biggest reasons I love food so much is the way it transports us all over the world and ties us to different cultures. Cheesy? Maybe. But when I stepped into Local Greek in Princeton, NJ, I really did feel a world away. And what’s wrong with some cheese and every now and then? Epecially when it’s feta…
With an emphasis on light small bites (AKA meze) you can try many different dishes with your friends and family at this new Mediterranean eatery. Local Greek’s motto is that little food makes you happy, and I can certainly attest to that. After sampling many different items on their menu, I was satisfied, but didn’t even feel bad about what I had eaten. Everything was so fresh and healthy! Dish after dish came out of the kitchen, each one light, airy, and incredibly flavorful. My favorites? The spicy feta dip, homemade moussaka (béchamel sauce, eggplant, ground beef with organic olive oil), and galaktobouriko (fillo dough filled with semolina custard, topped with Greek honey).
Take a look at the menu and you’ll likely see a few Greek specialties that everyone knows, like stuffed grape leaves. But Local Greek brings more homemade specialties to their customers… ones you may not be familiar with! And while unfamiliar menu items intimidate some, I am the exact opposite! Zabonotiropita: sounds a bit crazy, right? But if you like ham and cheese, you’ll adore that dish. It’s a puff pastry filled with Kasseri cheese, smoked local ham, and Greek herbs. So my advice to you is step outside of your comfort zone if you’ve never had Greek food before… your taste buds will be handsomely rewarded!
In an effort to put the Local in Local Greek, you will find local free-range eggs on the menu, along with local tomato, kale, spinach, maple syrup, and smoked ham. But sometimes in order to make great Greek food, you have to go straight to the source! This means they’re importing amazing feta, olive oil, and honey from Greece. And yes, that Greek honey makes the baklava, pastries, and bread irresistible!
The mezze menu will change weekly depending on what’s seasonal and available. As notated on the menu, the chef strives to use locally sourced, organic, fresh ingredients that are in season. This is important when you are showcasing foods so simply, with just herbs, olive oil, lemon, and tomato (the most common ingredients in Greek cooking).
If you live in or around Princeton, you can frequent the restaurant for their market space, where they have a variety of imported olive oils, sweets, and homemade breads available for takeaway. The owner, Tony Kanterakis, and his family have been in the Mediterranean grocery business for many years and know all the best specialty goods to keep in your kitchen.
On the walls of Local Greek, you will find several Greek words, the first one being Meraki, meaning to put your heart and soul into something. And it’s clear from my meal that Tony and his team have done just that!
I was hosted with six other New Jersey bloggers for this special lunch. For more photos and behind the scenes pics, follow them all! @itshilarymorris @spotofteadesigns @_themillennialmomblog_, @jerseybites, @beauteefulliving, and @hummingbirdarts .