A & I were discussing Friday night dinner plans, trying to come up with something somewhat near our house since the weather was a little crazy all day- drizzly, spontaneous thunderstorms, extreme wind, etc. A suggested a Greek restaurant in Fitler Square that I had never even heard of (shocking!). This place makes little to no effort to advertise- a website that requires serious internet searching to find, not acknowledged by menupages, etc. However, both Yelp and Urbanspoon have mostly positive reviews for the restaurant that has two other locations, one in Northern Liberties and another a bit south of Old City.
The restaurant was on the quieter side when we arrived, but filled up as we ate. Our waiter was also on the quieter side, but he was always around when we needed him, almost anticipating each step in the meal which was appreciated. Since we ordered an appetizer, we were asked whether or not we wanted bread- a good way to cut down on waste as the portions here aren't small. Thankfully the sliced baguette was primarily crust and air. Pesto-infused olive oil was a good intro to the tastes of Dmitri's- citrusy with a high quality depth to the oil flavor.
Extremely minimalist menu- no descriptions whatsoever.
We started out with two appetizers. I had read many good things about the spinach pie ($8.50), so that was an obvious choice. A solid chunk of pie was easily split into two decent servings. Thin crispy layers of phyllo sandwiched a ridiculously dense spinach filling. Knowing how much spinach cooks down, there had to have been a solid pound (or more) of fresh spinach cooked down with chopped onions, garlic, and fresh herbs and then mixed with a touch of crumbled feta and lemon juice. An incredibly delicious way to get a ton of veggies.
A has a love affair with Greek salad, so she ordered the version "with greens" (other options include "avocado citrus" and "green leaf") though we were initially served a simple bowl of tomatoes, tons of feta, and cucumber. We usually dislike complaining/sending food back to the kitchen, but this just wasn't what we had ordered, and our waiter had no problem whisking the bowl away and delivering a true Greek salad ($8.50). This seemed like a lighter version, with a few blocks of fluffy feta, green peppers, pickled peppers, olives, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and of course, lettuce. This was a serious salad and we both really appreciated the excellent mix of fresh ingredients. A light vinaigrette perfectly coated each forkful without making the salad greasy or soggy.
The platters at Dmitri's are notoriously enormous, so we split one platter and one additional "little dish" for our entrees. A ordered the grilled octopus ($12) which was the one slight disappointment of the meal. A pile of tiny strips of octopus were overcooked, making the meat chewy and with an unexpectedly stringy chicken texture. An overload of some kind of marinade didn't help. It would have been nice if the cut was a little thicker, because the pile of octopus was just... a little monotonous. A dip of some kind might have been nice, if only to give it some other kind of flavor. We really wanted to like it but.. it just wasn't that good. Sad.
However, the lamb platter ($17) totally made up for it. Thin chunks of lamb were grilled to medium, juicy with a bit of smokiness from the grill- simple and delicious. Again I would have preferred a thicker cut of meat, but the pieces were actually the perfect size to dip into the ahhhmazing tzatziki sauce served on the side- a super thick yogurt based sauce with the perfect amount of dill, parsley, and the faintest taste of mint. The meat was piled on a mountain of grilled peppers, onions, and squash reminiscent of summer BBQs. A slightly spicy rice and a hefty serving of sauteed greens (bok choy??) made the amount of food bordering on the absurd. We couldn't come close to finishing it between the two of us.
Of course, we saved a little bit of room for dessert as we're huge baklava fans (and recently had a somewhat disappointing version in Baltimore). Although it's not on the regular menu, it was a "special" dessert of the evening ($4.50). In the case of this nut and honey filled dessert, Dmitri's knows what's up. I like eating this pastry in kind of a weird way- layer by layer- and each crispy thin layer of phyllo broke off perfectly, allowing me to get down to the super sweet saturated bottom crust. This rendition utilized finely chopped walnuts and a good bit of cinnamon, adding extra dimensions of flavor to balance out the extreme sweetness. Again a solid portion size to split- half of this was more than enough to satisfy my dessert requirement.
Dmitri's is a solid neighborhood restaurant- nothing too fancy and perfect for a low-key dinner. The quantity of food is a little much- definitely expect to take leftovers home if you order a "platter." I definitely want to go back for some pita and hummus because even after a huge dinner I was eyeing up the table next to us.
2227 Pine Street