IN THE KITCHEN Thomas Fotis, owner of Peter’s Greek Kitchen in Waltham, grew up in Greece’s Thessaly region — “the birthplace of Achilles, and where Mount Olympus is located,” he proudly declared. The space was previously Café Angelinos, of which Fotis was part-owner; he eventually assumed full control, with an eye toward relaunching the restaurant and tilting its menu toward the food of his motherland. Fotis’s son, Peter, for whom the restaurant was named, currently works there and eventually plans to take over. “Sometimes we argue, but we get along for the most part,” Thomas laughed.
THE LOCALE Peter’s Greek Kitchen opened nearly two years ago on the western side of Main Street in Waltham. There are 48 seats, including a series of red banquettes well-suited to families and larger groups, and brick walls adorned with Greece-inspired artwork. Orders are placed at the counter, which is overseen by friendly and helpful staff. Diners can comfortably eat in, but takeout, delivery, and catering are also popular.
ON THE MENU Fotis’s passion for his homeland’s food is infectious: “I love to cook and spent my whole life in kitchens of many kinds,” Thomas Fotis said.
The way to my heart is a superior homemade tzatziki, which the restaurant duly delivers. The thick, strained Greek yogurt is whipped with olive oil, garlic, cucumber slivers, and a smattering of dill for a luscious dip ($4 to $6) that could practically serve as a meal in itself.
The restaurant’s hummus ($4 to $6) looks and feels different than the Middle Eastern-style version with which many Americans are more familiar. There’s a reason for that: “In Greece, we just call it fava, but people here are not as familiar with that terminology,” Fotis said. The Greek version typically contains yellow peas; at Peter’s, it’s composed of tender chickpeas pureed with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs into a thick, filling spread.
Melitzanosalata ($4 to $6) mashes roasted eggplant with tomato, olive oil, and spices, while dolmades ($8), or vegetarian grape leaves rolled and stuffed with rice and herbs, burst with flavor. If, like us, diners don’t want to choose just one or two of these appetizers, the Mediterranean sampler ($8 to $12) dishes up tastes of all four, with ample pita bread for scooping purposes.
Traditional Greek dishes extend well beyond dips and spreads. Spanakopita, served as both an appetizer ($8.50) or an entrée ($11), envelops spinach and feta cheese in triangles of flaky phyllo dough. Huge slices of moussaka ($11) layer eggplant, potatoes, seasoned ground beef, tomato sauce, and a rich coat of béchamel sauce. Entrees come with rice pilaf, pita, and salad.
The signature wrap is the gyro, properly pronounced “yee-ro,” Fotis emphasized, “but it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it — it tastes the same. When I was growing up, it was a convenient food — you would grab it and go.” The meat, a blend of spiced beef and lamb (or marinated chicken) is prepared on a vertical rotisserie (the word “gyro” refers to this rotation) before being sliced off and tucked into grilled pita with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki ($8).
The menu is not solely composed of Greek dishes. Salads, subs, and pasta dishes all make appearances, and the pizzas ($7.35 to $18.25), perhaps surprisingly, are not Greek-style, but thinner-crust Italian in the tradition of Café Angelinos, using the brick oven from the space’s previous incarnation, with freshly prepared dough hand-tossed each day.
Fotis is continually updating the menu and plans to add more dishes, many in response to customer requests, including roasted lamb shish kebabs and fasolakia, Greek-style green beans with tomato sauce.
Peter’s Greek Kitchen, 1056 Main St., Waltham, 781-891-7677, www.petersgreekkitchen.comRachel Lebeaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.