The sunny cuisine of Greece is having its moment. Celebrated chefs Jody Adams and Michael Schlow recently opened Greek-inspired places (Saloniki and Doretta Taverna, respectively). For decades in this area, if you wanted Greek home cooking, you could find it at a diner or small mom-and-pop, cooked by people serving the food of their native land.
One of the newest is the tiny Roslindale eatery Effie's Kitchen, where Efthymia "Effie" Anastasiadis is cooking specialties from Thessaloniki, Greece, the city where she was raised. Effie's has three tables, which are against the storefront windows (each has only three seats). If you're lucky enough to snag one, you'll probably sit beside local Greek-Americans talking to Effie in their native language as they eat and she fills orders. She opened Effie's last fall with her husband, Stavros; son George is at the grill. The couple sold a pizza place they ran for years in Hyde Park.
Effie's is essentially a takeout spot with carefully prepared food made to order. Once it goes into Styrofoam containers, things that are crisp when you eat in-house can be soggy by the time you get home, which doesn't do justice to this very good food.
Eaten in or taken out, avgolemono ($4.50), the classic Greek soup of broth, eggs, lemon juice, and rice, is better here than almost anywhere else it's served. It's a perfect balance of citrus, yolky richness, and delicious broth, with flecks of white-meat chicken, rice, and a few bits of carrot. The consistency is thin but it has body, like heavy cream.
Chewy pita, used on all sandwiches except a burger, is thick enough to hold chicken or pork souvlaki ($7.50). This is a roll-up that doesn't quite overlap at the top because of the bulk inside — red onions, tomatoes, the yogurt-garlic sauce tzatziki, a surprise layer of french fries, and generous strips of juicy pork or chicken.
Greek salad ($6.50) is layered with lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and lots of feta, and it comes with a light vinaigrette-style dressing. It wouldn't be anything special except that all the vegetables are top quality and the bread has been griddled, so it's crisp on top and warm. Add grilled chicken ($2), half a dozen plump strips, and the juices bathe the salad. You can also order a juicy souvlaki pork "stick" ($2) to top the greens. Village salad ($8), known as horiataki, is a mixture of chopped salad vegetables that includes tomatoes, cucumbers, Cubanelle pepper, feta, and red onion.
The gyro holds pork, which is sliced thin off the vertical rack for a sandwich ($7.50), and stacked on thick pita with tzatziki, french fries, tomatoes, and red onion. The enormous mound of meat spills from the top of this creamy, crispy, crunchy roll-up.
Weekdays, Effie makes one traditional Greek specialty. Pastitsio ($10.95), long macaroni layered with meat sauce and topped with cheese sauce, is rich and delicious. A nourishing pot of giant beans — called gigantes — comes with sliced, roasted tomatoes stirred in; that juicy little souvlaki stick would be a wonderful topping.
The best of the hot pies is phyllo-rolled spinach ($4), a crisp cylinder with the savory, sauteed greens. Feta-filled bougatsa ($4.25) is made with puff pastry cut into small squares (bougatsa also comes in a sweet-cream version). Soothing rice pudding ($3.75) is milky-white, the grains tender but not mushy, a generous dusting of cinnamon adding warmth.
While her husband and son cook behind her, Effie is at the counter taking orders, filling them, taking them to the tables, and tallying meals at the register. She is brusque but not impatient as you decide what you want.
When I tell Effie on the phone later how much I like her avgolemono, she says, "For years I'm doing that soup," perhaps not realizing how exceptional it is. Nor, for that matter, how good everything here is.
37 Poplar St., Roslindale, 617-942-2247, www.facebook.com/effieskitchen2015. All major credit cards. Two steps at entrance. No restroom.
Prices Soup $4.50. Pies, sandwiches, salads, entrees $4-$16.50. Dessert $3.75.
Hours Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
What to order Avgolemono, pork souvlaki, Greek salad (with grilled chicken or souvlaki stick), village salad, spinach pie, pastitsio, Greek lima beans, rice pudding.