Certain types of cuisine don't seem to be represented enough in the Greater Boston area, with Greek fare certainly being one of them. Sure, there are plenty of Greek-owned houses of pizzas out there, but full-service restaurants that feature Greek food are not all that easy to come by, though that seems to be changing a bit with the likes of Zo and Saloniki, both of which have recently expanded). One such spot (and one of the few casual Greek restaurants within the Boston city limits) can be found in Brighton Center, and it is a real hidden gem; and while Esperia Grill doesn't have the name recognition as, say, Greek Corner in North Cambridge, it is well worth going to for its exceptional food and its rather laid-back, friendly vibe.
Esperia Grill actually used to be a house of pizza, but the owners changed it over to a sit-down Greek restaurant more than a decade ago. The exterior of the eatery still has a quasi-house of pizza/sub shop look to it, and sharing its squat one-story building with a Dunkin' Donuts doesn't do much to help that image. The interior of the restaurant, however, is warm, cozy and comfortable, with dim lighting, an attractive tile floor, tables that are spaced far apart, pictures on the walls, and a sleek counter area showing what's available behind the glass. Upon first glance, the counter can trick people into thinking that this is really more of a Greek cafeteria-type spot (a la New Brothers in Danvers) but it is indeed a place that has table service and doesn't have a rushed feel to it at all.
The menu at Esperia Grill focuses mainly on familiar Greek dishes, though it also offers a few items that you might find at a house of pizza or sub shop (with these items perhaps being holdovers from its days as a takeout place). Some of the items here include a wonderful version of avgolemono (egg lemon soup), which is thicker than some and a perfect option for those who might be feeling under the weather; appetizers such as a tremendous feta spread that has a bit of a kick to it and goes nicely on pita bread; stuffed grape leaves that also have a slight kick, with a variety of herbs and spices mixed into the rice; a smooth--and garlicky--humus that also goes well on pita bread; slightly spicy falafel balls that are fall-apart tender and are green inside from the addition of chopped-up parsley; meals such as an excellent version of moussaka made using layers of ground beef, eggplant, and potatoes, all topped with a rich bechamel sauce; a marvelous pastitsio which also has plenty of bechamel; a substantial spanakopita that tastes about as fresh as can be; and savory keftedes (Greek-style meatballs) that have a firm texture and get added flavor from various herbs and spices. Plenty of sandwich options can also be found at Esperia Grill, with gyros, wraps, and panini all available, and desserts include Greek faves such as rice pudding and baklava. The restaurant serves beer and wine and also offers a drink that is very popular in Greece, though one that is not quite as well-known here--a Greek iced coffee frappe that is sweet and foamy.
Like several restaurants in Brighton Center, Esperia Grill is very much under the radar, making it one of the least-known Greek restaurants in the Boston area. But it is a good one, with friendly service, decent prices, and even its own parking lot (albeit a tiny one that's shared with the aforementioned Dunkin' Donuts). If you're frustrated by the relative lack of casual Greek eateries in and around Boston, definitely keep this hidden little spot in mind.
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