WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GREEK FARE IN LINCROFT

091816stamna3The two-souvlaki-sticks lunch at Stamna Greek Taverna. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Originally Santorini Greek Cuisine, then replaced last summer by Melody’s Café, another Greek restaurant has taken over the same spot in a strip mall on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft.

Stamna Greek Taverna opened about three weeks ago, and PieHole has a feeling that this one might be here to stay. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
091816stamna5Also from the lunch menu: spinach pie served with a Greek salad. Blue like the Aegean Sea, the dining room is decorated with interesting Greek scenes, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

091816stamna6Owners Alex and Angela Nissirios are both from the Greek island of Kapathos. In the diner business for years, they changed direction, opening the first Stamna Taverna in Bloomfield in 2008 and then a second location in Little Falls.

In English, stamna means earthenware or terracotta pitcher. Like the name of the place, most of the items on the menu are traditional Greek and, we’re told, the servers all come from Greece, too.

“There’s not a real Greek restaurant here in Lincroft,” says our waiter, Stavros Stergiopoulos, who’s been working for the Nissirios family in their other restaurants for three years. “We’ve been successful in Bloomfield and Little Falls, and we wanted to show them how good Greek food really is.”

Refined in detail, there is an authentic quality to the food they’re serving here. Stergiopoulos tells us the fish on the menu comes from Greece, but “if it’s not available, we don’t substitute it with something else,” he says.

The decor is a little kitschy, with fun paper tablecloths embellished with a map of Greece and the Aegean Sea covering bright blue cloths. The framed artwork on the walls includes inviting pictures of tables in different Greek venues, all compelling the diner to sit and linger.

A fresh bottle of ice cold water with the name of the restaurant emblazoned in blue is brought to the table on arrival with a complimentary dish of fat, salty olives and oregano and olive oil-dressed toast points.

Do you know your Greek food? Weigh in on Stamna here!

From the lunch menu we opted for the Two Souvlaki Sticks ($12) with chicken instead of pork, and Spinach Pie (also $12). Each came with an impressively fresh Greek salad topped with a briny rectangle of feta cheese.

The platter of souvlaki, or meat grilled on a skewer, is a considerable portion. A choice of rice, french fries or lemon potatoes accompanies the dish. The lemon potatoes, roasted and scented with fresh citrus, are mouthwatering and addictive. Order them. You won’t be disappointed.

Chunks of juicy grilled chicken, boldly seasoned, came to the table sans skewer, and are served with a thick, tangy and much-better-than-average tzatziki sauce. Warm pita bread is an excellent vehicle for scooping it all into your mouth.

Buttery layers of oven-crisped phyllo dough sandwich the fresh spinach and feta cheese filling in the spinach pie. A tart-lemon piquancy is a surprising and lively finish to the dish.

Stamna Greek Taverna is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. with a brunch menu served on the weekend from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  

SUSAN-ERICSON