Saloniki goes to Harvard
Where to The third and flagship location of Greek fast-casual restaurant Saloniki, at Harvard University’s new Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center.
What for Pitas, plates, and cocktails from cofounding chef Jody Adams (Rialto, Porto) and partners Eric Papachristos and Jonathan Mendez.
The scene Bright, beachy, and blue, with plants hanging from the ceiling and Greek music piped into the spacious room. Order at a counter, grab a number on a metal stick, and retreat to a booth. Soon, a jolly server will materialize tableside with your meal. Harvard students groan about tests; colleagues catch up over sandwiches; and a few older Cambridge types relax at the full, sunny bar.
What you’re eating The third Saloniki has a larger menu than its siblings in the Fenway and Central Square: There’s daily breakfast, Greek pastries, and a big roster of sandwiches, plates, and small meze. Get a pita ($8 and up) stuffed with pomegranate-glazed eggplant, honey-garlic braised pork shoulder, or lemon-oregano grilled chicken, drizzled with interesting sauces: red pepper sesame, garlic yogurt, spicy “secret” house honey. Pitas come with greens, tomatoes, onions, and a couple of fries tucked inside; plates have gluten-free brown rice. There are also souvlaki ($7 and up), grilled skewered meats in a mustard-vinegar marinade; savory phyllo pies ($6 and up) stuffed with vegetables, feta, and chicken; plenty of salads; and snack plates highlighting vegan and vegetarian delights: zucchini-feta fritters, beets, lemon potatoes. A server roams the dining room, offering up free loukoumades, or fried dough balls.
Care for a drink? This branch of Saloniki has a full cocktail menu stocked with light, Mediterranean-style drinks, like the Santorini Spritz made with Roots Rakomelo (an Aegean honey liqueur), Aperol, lime, and sparking rose. Sip it at the blue-and-white tiled bar — or swill a refreshing lemonade spiked with cucumber and fresh mint, or a frappe whipped with Nescafe and condensed milk. Coffee is from La Colombe.
Overheard Political parrying; upstate New York geography; homework woes. A bespectacled man waits in line at the counter with a pal. “Look: You have to either choose politics or a lifestyle. You can’t do both!” he declares. Two women munch dough balls and reflect on their weekends. “I got a $69 flight to Buffalo!” one exclaims. Her friend looks confused. “From there, it’s only a half-hour to Niagara Falls,” she explains. “I have an essay due tomorrow. I shouldn’t have left my room,” grumbles a young chap to his female companion. “Feel free to leave,” she says, picking at her pita.
24 Dunster St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-945-5074, www.salonikigreek.com