First Bite: Skara Grill

In these momentously difficult times for Boston-area restaurants, it’s quite an anomaly—though certainly reassuring—to find that in the heart of West Roxbury, a new family-owned eatery has not only sprung up in the place of a major chain resto, but also opened its doors to throngs of neighbors, who filled seats aplenty on a recent summer Sunday.

It might be Greek cuisine purveyor Skara Grill’s casual, inviting atmosphere (think warm-colored walls and cozy banquettes), that are the right fit for both a modest night out for two or a laid-back family meal. But more likely it’s the simple-but-winding menu of staples like gyros, kebabs, and moussaka served up at recession-friendly prices.

Helmed by father-son duo George and Bob Kariotis of the now-closed Dionysos in Cambridge, their newest venture, in a former Friendly’s lot, seems to already have developed a local following.

Hellenic comforts abound here: A quartet of spreads, including tangy feta blended with hot peppers and a flavorful roasted eggplant and garlic, makes for a hearty, crowd-pleasing starter with a side of warm, pillowy pita—as does the light and buttery spanakopita, stuffed with plenty of fresh spinach. For dinner, shrimp Santorini, feta-sprinkled jumbo shrimp in a white wine-red sauce over rice, is generously sized and satisfying, but the best bets are the first-rate gyro or souvlaki sandwiches, packed with tender meat and overflowing with diced tomato, onion, and a thick, garlickly tzatziki sauce.

We didn’t get to dessert on our visit (it was the end of a food-packed weekend, after all), but expect classics such as baklava, galaktoboureko, and Greek yogurt with honey—sure to make a sweet ending to an epic meal.

Skara Grill, 1985 Centre St., West Roxbury, 617-327-1114,