First Look at Jody Adams’ Saloniki Greek
If you’ve been eating more tzatziki around Boston these days, you’re not alone. Mediterranean cuisine is having a moment, with Committee, Doretta Taverna, Tahaza Hummus Kitchen, Pelekasis, and other herbaceous concepts joining the likes of Sarma and Trade on the dining scene.
On Monday, March 14, the Fenway neighborhood will have a new, casual sandwich shop with these bright flavors in Saloniki Greek, the latest concept from chef and restaurateur Jody Adams (Rialto, Trade).
Adams, who opened Trade in 2007, has teamed up with opening general manager Jonathan Mendez and partner Eric Papachristos on Saloniki. During Adams’ 30 years in the restaurant industry, the James Beard Award winner has kept a close eye on food trends, she says. More than 15 years ago, she attended a Greek food conference in Crete, which focused on the health benefits of staple ingredients like olive oil and fresh vegetables.
“It’s [something] I’ve incorporated into menus from beginning,” she says. “With Greek food right now, there seems to be this peak of a wave, but anything that’s peaking means it’s been in process for a long time. Italian food has always held a place, and Spanish food after that; I think it’s Greece’s turn. It’s so easy to eat and finish feeling full and sated and healthy.”
But Mendez’s visits to Papachristos’ hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece, directly inspire the Saloniki concept, the Boston Globe noted.
“The very first stop we took after getting off the plane was a little sandwich shop,” Mendez says. Papachristos ordered for him—pork with spicy, whipped feta; tomatoes, and onions, wrapped in a fresh pita. “It was the simplest sandwich. You looked at it and you could identify absolutely everything.”
Saloniki takes the typical, Greek-American sandwich shop “beyond processed meat on a spit, and makes it accessible in terms of flavor, portability, [hours of operation,] and price point,” Adams says.
The menu offers pitas, grain bowls, or salads between $8-$10.50, with add-ons from an array of meats, vegetables, and sauces. Adams has developed a few staples—like the George, with spicy lamb meatballs, two sauces, Greek fries, tomatoes, and onions; and the Despena, zucchini-feta fritters with garlic yogurt, tomatoes, onions, herb salad, and Greek fries—and there’s a build-your-own option. She doesn’t shun the “Chipotle of Greek sandwich shops” comparison: “They built a great model,” she says. But environmentally, her restaurant is on another level, she says.
For one, there’s a small bar, with a red and white wine by Greek wine producer Anassa on tap, plus two Harpoon drafts, including an exclusive saison. Non-alcoholic options include Spindrift sodas, Greek iced tea, cucumber mint lemonade, and Saloniki’s take on a Greek frappe, a sweetened, foam-topped iced coffee.
Saloniki is a bright, 75-seat restaurant that caps a budding block of retail on the corner of Van Ness Street. Designed by Lana Kirby of Lana Design, it has three different dining areas: the “Island room” at the entrance, with window seating and a communal dining table; a corridor with bar stools and wooden two-tops; and the quieter “Village room,” with a long, upholstered bench, tables and chairs, a standing counter, and another communal dining table.
Throughout the restaurant, there is ample locally-sourced, white-washed wood; carrera marble, and evocative photos of Greek life, shot by Adams’ husband, Ken Rivard. Through bright blue doors, there’s a 50-seat patio, with furniture on the way for a spring debut. The restaurant’s exterior is wrapped in copper.
The ownership trio was very involved with the design, engineering, and construction of Saloniki, and it’s a concept they could see working elsewhere.
“In due time, we’d like to look at location No. 2 and see where it takes us,” Papachristos says. “We don’t want to do it from a perspective of, ‘This is duplicatable.’ But it’s something we’re seeing with a lot of other chefs and different concepts in New York, L.A., and around the country. They’re really captivating audiences by having good food. Right now, our focus is having the best product and service coming out of the store.”
Saloniki is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saloniki Greek, 4 Kilmarnock St., Boston, 617-266-0001, salonikigreek.com.
Lamb meatball plate.
The Niko pita, with lemon-oregano chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, and Greek fries.
The Herc, with honey-garlic braised pork shoulder, spicy whipped feta, Greek fries, tomatoes, and onions.
a DIY pita with pomegranate-glazed eggplant and roasted peppers.
Pita chips and barrel-aged feta.
Yiayia’s soup with white beans, preserved lemon, and herbs.
Baklava crisps and Greek yogurt with lemon curd.