Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Mediterranean Madness

dinings_vasilisOh, there are unforgettable feasts at Vasili’s
There are a few people you meet who absolutely love working with, presenting and/or serving food that you can’t help but be impressed by their infectious energy. Julie White is one of those local creatures.

As owner of Vasili’s Greek Restaurant on Santa Cruz’s Westside, White and her staff certainly know how to serve authentic Greek meals—hell, let’s just call them feasts—but what truly stands out is that you really can taste the “love” in all the food here. Four of us soon discovered this during a recent outing at the popular restaurant and the experience only seemed to remove a rather annoying eating inhibition I had imposed on myself earlier in the day. This isn’t the place to eat less. More is better, so … bring it on.

We were sitting there lost in the expansive menu when one of us broke out into a verbal song and dance, and soon began pondering the effectiveness of a certain business partnership. It prompted somebody else to question the rationale behind other people’s bizarre behaviors in their lives and the curve balls life tends to toss our way. Fortunately, somebody suggested tastier balls—Vasili’s Greek Meatballs and we were soon making our order.

A bottle of Kouros Nemea wine ($18) arrived. This savage dry, full-bodied red—kudos to those fresh berry and plums—wonderfully disappears in the mouth with reckless abandon. Its arrival seemed to foreshadow the next few hours, which clearly were to revolve around one thing: letting the outside world go and allowing ourselves to devour the here and now—guiltlessly and with our fierce appetites.

So many things began arriving at the table, that I lost track of which came first. It reminded me of all the holidays I shared with my Polish relatives back in Chicago. You never knew who was going to show up at the door and after a while, you find yourself surprised by all the people in the room with you. This was the case with the amazing dishes suddenly before us.

Where to begin? There were cheeses—feta and kassin—of which I could not stop picking up and shoving into my mouth. There was fresh bread, too, and none of it was stale or hard. The olive oil used was, as one of us quickly blurted out—somewhat orgasmically, I must say—“ridiculously good.” The plate of bread quickly vanished but was soon replaced with another.

And then … more tempting creatures arrived. The Vegetarian Briami dish ($14.95) is a expertly balanced Greek-style casserole, buoyed by layers of eggs and potatoes. But you’ll appreciate the way White and her chefs make good use of the zucchini, eggplant, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes and mint found here, too.

It’s hard not to get lost in such eye candy. Your excitement level just naturally heads North—it doesn’t help when three delicious dips are placed upon your table, too. Warmed, fresh pita bread on hand, we dove right in and sampled the troika—tzatziki (white), taramosalata (red) and the Skordalia, an insanely creamy potato-garlic beast that’s unforgettable.

We were filling up fast, but more dishes arrived, one of Vasili’s stand out courses, in fact—the Souvlaki Plate ($15.95). You can’t go wrong with this. The dish is offered with a choice of tender slices of roasted lamb, eight keftethakia or two skewers of marinated chicken breast or pork tenderloin. This, too, is served with hand-made pita bread and tzatziki. We chose the chicken skewers.

“Tastes like heaven,” was the consensus. True. The perfectly cooked chicken breast was wonderfully tender.dining_vasilis

We noshed onward, and occasionally dipped into the Greek Meatballs before us, which somebody referred to as “deep-fried balls of love.” To which I immediately responded with: “Well, if you’re going to have ‘balls of love’ in your life, deep-fried isn’t a bad way to go.”

There’s more. The alpha dish at the table was ready to be experienced—the night’s special, a lamb shank. Now, if you happen to be here on an evening when a special such as this is served, treat yourself and order it. This fantastic, juicy creature was bathed in the richest of ingredients, accompanied by large chunks of tender potatoes and beans. The meat was wonderfully attended to before it arrived—so juicy if fell right off the bone.

This wasn’t just dinner, it was one of those rare culinary journeys that feed the soul. There’s nothing like a memorable meal and Vasili’s apparently knows how to give birth to them. But there’s so much more to note—everything from it’s full extensive menu (from moussaka and feta burgers to the pork gyros and veggie plate—you sort of lose yourself in the abundance that is available to you here.

And not many food portals can offer that.


Vasilis Greek Restaurant, 1501A Mission St., Santa Cruz. Beer and wine. Open Wednesday & Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and  Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Closed Monday  and Tuesday. Call 458-9808, or visit vasilisgreekrestaurant.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

A Different Revolution

Aries Moon late Wednesday and Thursday. We think new thoughts and initiate new ideas. Sun in Virgo with Saturn in Scorpio help disciples to create orderly structures to anchor and bring forth new ideas. Stabilizing Taurus moon Friday and Saturday. We anchor new ideas into form and matter, like seeds planted in the soil. We tend them, waiting for green shoots to emerge. Like the gestating Virgo Sun Madonna, awaiting the birth of the holy child, the Soul, the new light at winter solstice. Mercury and Chiron converse about what hurts and what heals.Saturday is a complex day with Mercury (communication), Mars (action!) and Uranus (revolution). Mercury in Libra is opposite Uranus in Aries. Oppositions (recognizing something new appearing over there somewhere) eventually synthesize. Mercury in Libra calls for Right Action and Right Relations, especially with money. Uranus in Aries—the revolution this time must be different.  Also on Saturday, Mars enters Sagittarius. Where are we going, what are our goals, where’s justice, where’s the mountain, do we have good shoes? Sunday Venus trines Pluto—in-depth assessment of money, values and resources. Gemini moon Monday; we talk a lot, tending to tasks in gardens and neighborhoods. Cancer Moon Tuesday and Wednesday; we nurture and nourish. The stars and planets remind us.Note: William Meader, esoteric author & international teacher, will be speaking on “The Soul of Humanity Evolving Through Crisis” at Meditation Mount, 7pm, Friday, Sept. 12.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

What's your all-time best Skyview Flea Market score?

Santa Cruz | eBay Business

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Soquel’s Pinot Winner

When you taste Soquel Vineyards’ extraordinary 2012 Partners’ Reserve Pinot Noir, you will know why it won a Double Gold in June at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

 

Wood Fire Woodie

Scotts Valley pizzeria gets fired up the old-school way