The Simple Greek

 

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When the Culinary Arts Club students can engage in the food world with one of our own, it is an even better experience. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we visited The Simple Greek, a delightful restaurant owned by Tony DeSisto, an alumnus of Portsmouth Abbey and brother to a faculty favorite, Ms. Allie Micheletti, who teaches Art History here. It was all delightful, from the ever helpful and generous staff (Christina, Michaela, Don, and Brett) to the clean and modern surroundings to the fresh and fabulous Greek food. We can’t thank them enough for an excellent time!

On Sunday, we went right from church to The Simple Greek. I ate a Greek yogurt on the bus, but I wish I hadn’t, since even though the bus ride was long, the service was really fast. And debating the pronunciation of “gyro” in line made the wait seem even shorter. I ordered a traditional gyro on pita with tzatziki sauce. The woman I ordered from said for our first time she thought traditional–a mix of lamb and beef–was the best option if we wanted a true gyro experience. Since I could see and smell the gyro meat slow roasting behind the counter, I already knew that was what I wanted.

I had barely bitten into my gyro when they brought us steaming hot fries. I don’t even know what was on the fries but I couldn’t stop eating them. I could barely eat half my gyro because of how big it was and the amount of fries I inhaled, but the meat and tzatziki flavors were so impactful that I can remember how that first bite tasted, even now. As we ate, they brought around samples of Greek yogurt from their yogurt bar. The Greek yogurt I had on the bus paled in comparison. Their yogurt, combined with Greek honey, dark chocolate, or berries, was so rich and tangy that it surprised me. I had three of the samples, and my standards for Greek yogurt have been significantly raised.

After we ate, the employees showed around behind the counter. First, I was shown how they prepare and cook their steak and chicken. Then, we got to try and shave the meat off of the roasting spits. You could use a knife or an electric saw thing that was pretty sick. I cut the meat really unevenly, but I think the other students got it evened out. Then, we went around back and got to prepare fries. We peeled potatoes and used the fry cutter. I don’t know what the employees usually do to prevent this, but the peeled potatoes are very slippery, and we may have dropped several. Getting to see around the kitchen was fun, especially since the employees were so nice and welcoming. I especially liked going to a place like The Simple Greek because we were able to see techniques that we could easily do on our own—and get amazing food from it. –Ella Souvannavong ‘18

As a dedicated day student at Portsmouth Abbey, I spend a good portion of my life shuttling desperate boarders to and from Chipotle, Nacho Mama’s, and countless other places for quick dinners during our busy days. The first thing that I thought when we walked into The Simple Greek was “this seems just like Chipotle,” and the first thing I thought when we started eating was “but this is so much better.” Tommy and I both spent our whole time in line to order practicing how we would pronounce “gyro” without embarrassing ourselves completely, and by the time I was building mine, I had ordered every possible topping in a panic. This ended up not being a mistake. Everything was so fresh and so simple tasting together that I didn’t once regret the gyro I inhaled that was roughly the size of my head.

This was almost as fun as the trip we took behind the counter. Peeling potatoes and slicing them brought me back to my early days of picking thyme and peeling carrots at my summer job. My favorite part by far was learning how to shave the meat when it was on the rotating spits. This was no easy task, and it was more than generous for them to allow us to ruin several servings worth of food in the name of education. I don’t think that I have a future in that, but no worries; I know I’ll be back for the baklava and the rice pudding.–Sydell Bonin ‘18

On Sunday, the 29th of October, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts Club visited The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI. The Simple Greek serves a variety of fresh and healthy options that are not only good for you, but delicious to eat as well. From the juicy gyro cut straight from the vertical broiler, to the imported Greek honey, I had nothing short of one of the best meals I have ever tasted.

To start off my meal, I decided to have the traditional gyro on white pita bread. They put the tzatziki sauce on the pita bread first, and then added rice, which was a great choice on my part because it was very tasty. Next, I had the option to add almost any topping I wanted, so I chose the fresh garlic green beans, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and lettuce. This sandwich was unlike any other. Even though I stuffed it full of toppings and made a little mess while I was eating it, it was all worth it. Next, we had the Greek fries, which were covered in feta, oregano, garlic salt, and red wine vinegar. Once again, I had nothing to complain about since I devoured them in a little under three minutes. Finally, they let us sample a few desserts, and my favorite by far was the imported Greek yogurt, topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries, with a hint of classic Greek honey. The blend of tartness from the yogurt, sweetness from the honey and freshness of the fruit made it the highlight of my visit there. Overall, my visit to The Simple Greek was a fantastic one, and I will definitely try to return there with my family or friends in the future. –Dan Sliney ‘18

The rich smells of freshly cooked gyro meat wafted from the unassuming The Simple Greek in East Providence. Walking through the door, two massive slabs of meat turned slowly on the flaming rotisseries. A case full of freshly cooked spanakopita lay in wait; I could not resist these delicious little pies of feta and spinach. But the line proceeded to a Greek “Subway” style set up. You selected what you wanted on your gyro. Nervous that I was going to mispronounce “gyro,” I asked for the “traditional”– meat piled high with tzatziki, Greek salad, feta cheese, and olives wrapped in a warm pita. This was followed up with Greek French fries with feta, alongside Greek yogurt, and baklava. Everything was delicious, but now it was time to work for our fill. We learned how to carve the gyro meat from the rotisserie, how they grilled it, and how they made their hummus and potatoes. This was truly heaven on Earth for anyone who is a sucker for some fresh Mediterranean eats.  —Thomas Teravainen ‘18

Greek. When I saw this word from the email about an upcoming event, I was curious. What about Greek? A Mediterranean style of food? Feta cheese? Olive oil? But what about “simple” Greek? Do they put just olive oil and feta on a gyro? I couldn’t stop asking myself questions. In order to figure out more about the restaurant, I searched the place on Google. When I looked at the images, the place seemed fairly small. There were 3-4 tables and some chairs around them. Then, the pictures of food attracted my attention; the main serving menu included bowls and gyros. A bowl for Greek food? That totally mesmerized me.

As soon as I entered the restaurant, I loved the atmosphere. It was small but cozy, and I love the bright lighting giving an impression as “pure and simple.” As I stood in front of the serving place, and asked for a bowl and looked at the toppings, I could not hide my excitement.

The marinated cucumber, tomato and cheese combination was my favorite, and potatoes went along well with the warm white rice. Also, the size of steak slices was huge but so tender that I could finish one slice as a bite. The topping sauce – olive oil and garlic cream – was perfect enough for me to feel Greek in Rhode Island. The reason behind this Greek feeling was that all the ingredients directly came from the mainland Greek; that makes the food totally fresh and authentic. As I went to the back of the kitchen and saw the process of grill and sauce making, I could totally see why the food was so clean and fresh: because they serve a proper amount of food every day and use fresh ingredients.

The desserts also mesmerized me into the Greek world for a while. Sweet Greek honey played a role as a perfect partner for sour and thick Greek yogurt. Pistachio on top of it pleased me as a decoration. Also, my favorite dessert was rice pudding. Cinnamon powder was perfect for scent and taste, and the fact that I could actually chew rice in the pudding was the best part.

Yes, I have never been to a Greek restaurant, but now I could definitely say I’ve felt genuinely Greek for about three hours in Rhode Island. –Scarlett Shin ‘18

After weeks of waiting in excitement, our Culinary Arts Club had finally organized another “adventure,” this time to a world of Greek food. Greek food has always been one of my favorites since it can offer an incredibly rich and unique flavor while using the simplest material. Luckily, The Simple Greek is a perfect representation of my type of Greek food.

As I walked into the restaurant, I was immediately hit by an irresistible fragrance coming from the rotating gyro grill. Their ingredient, or “build your own,” bar was filled with little sections of delicious ingredients that we could pick to create our own perfect meal. I had a regular sized bowl based with mixed greens topped with their special garlic green beans, chicken gyro, mixed vegetables, tzatziki sauce and two slices of wheat pita. It was absolutely delicious. The freshness of the mixed greens and the sweetness of the green beans formed a harmonious bond with the juicy and flavorful chicken gyro slices. After devouring the entire bowl, my stomach was completely satisfied and felt refreshed instead of burdened; the food wasn’t greasy and overwhelming, but delicate and healthily flavorful.

Next up, they offered us the opportunity to work on some food preparation; for example, slicing the gyro, grilling the steak, making their house-made hummus sauce, etc… I had the honor to be part of the gyro slicing team, waving the long cutting knife up and down the gyro as it rotates on the stand. As my knife slice through the steaming gyro, streams of flavorful juice flowed out from the cut into my little container, and the fragrance of the chicken burst out as the cut was revealed. To me, slicing the chicken wasn’t the hardest part but withholding myself from drooling all over was the real challenge; unable to hold back, I purchased two more bowls for take-out, which became my meals for the rest of the day. –Sam Ding ‘18

When we arrived at The Simple Greek, I could tell that it was a “healthy fast-food” restaurant because of the minimalistic design and food assembly line. The food was almost 100% customizable: choose your carb/salad, choose your vegetable, choose from hummus, tzatziki, and the rest of the whole array of sauces. The staff were all welcoming and answered my questions of what-was-what as the food was being made right in front of me. After we all started to eat our assortment of bowls and gyros, they shared samples of their Greek fries, rice pudding, Greek yogurt, and baklava. The fries were okay, the rice pudding was surprisingly good, and the baklava was a new dish I have never had. The Greek yogurt was great; it had a slightly tart taste, and their imported Greek honey balanced the flavors. Most of their dishes used minimal but fresh–and imported from Greece–ingredients.

We were invited into their open kitchen and experimented with cutting the gyro meat cones with a two-foot knife and the electric cutter. Both were hard to use, but the electric cutter was definitely more fun. Then we got to grill and butterfly chicken breasts, which had some beautiful char marks. Lastly on our tour of the kitchen, we were put to work peeling and cutting potatoes. I liked being able to see how people worked in these type of “fast casual” restaurants and use their fresh ingredients, especially how the meat was cut right off the spit. —India Roemlein ‘19

Chipotle on Sunday?? How about something lighter without the heavy sour cream and guacamole?? The Simple Greek Restaurant in East Providence certainly is one of those places you wish to be at after Sunday brunch. Similar to Chipotle, you pick your own food for your bowl; however, the restaurant is honest with its name—all of its choices from salsa to gyro have less than five ingredients and are all home-made. Having just had a bagel before going, I chose a regular salad bowl topped with grilled beef, cucumber, tomato, olives, and hummus. Surprisingly, I finished the bowl, even together with some Greek yogurt and rice pudding samples afterwards. Besides the food, the owner decorated the restaurant as simply as possible to emphasize the smell that suffuses the whole room when you come in. And the giant windows on the street side allow natural light in and customers to look out at the beautiful Sunday afternoon.–Peter Liu ‘19

On Sunday we went to the Simple Greek right after Mass, and I had the most refreshing “brunch” after so long. I have never tried Greek food before, but I’m always excited to try new food.

First, we all got to choose between a bowl or pita, and I chose the bowl with white rice, grilled chicken, hummus, Greek garlic dressing, olive oil, white bread, and potatoes. The rice had drops of cilantro flavor, which made the rice fresh the grilled chicken was just at the right temperature and very chewy. The hummus added the creamy texture to the chicken and the rice. The garlic dressing was similar to the flavor of ranch dressing except that it added more tartness to the smooth ranch. The olive oil served as the lubricant of all the ingredients in the bowl. After enjoying the favorable Greek bowl, we tried the Greek style French fries, different from normal fries; the Greek fries had garlic, lemon, feta cheese, and vinegar on them, which brought another layer to the taste. I was fascinated by the quality and quantity of the food of The Simple Greek, and I would come again! —Katherine Wang ‘18

What do the Greeks have for their meals every day? Before this trip to The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI, I had never known what Greek foods were besides the well-known Greek yogurt. After I stepped into The Simple Greek, I was first enthralled with the smell of the two huge spinning gyros. After a 10-minute-long debate about the menu, I decided on a white pita with traditional gyro with garlic cream for sauce and feta cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers for toppings. After I took a huge bite into my pita, my face read “no way!” Although it is a chain restaurant in the U.S., the quality of the food is incredible. The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers balanced out the grease of the warm and delicious gyro slices. The warm gyro on pita was a pleasant treat to my taste buds. I tried others’ bowls, and I also liked the potatoes and the garlic green beans very much. What’s more, I love the Greek fries! Usually I was never a fan of French fries. However, the freshly cut fries with feta, oregano, garlic salt, and red wine vinegar were simply irresistible to me. For the sides, I did not love Dolmades, which is rice, beef, and herbs rolled in grape leaves, as it tastes kind of bitter with the grape leaves. For the sweet, the Rizogalo (Rice pudding) and Baklava (filo dough, walnuts, honey) were amazing! Although not looking very pleasing to the eye at the first sight, the taste was extraordinary. As for the Greek yogurt I was looking forward to, I did not think it was the best because it was too thick and not sweet enough—but very healthy and came in with cut strawberries and chocolate chips.

What was better than tasting all the food was actually trying to make it. It was my first time in the kitchen peeling potatoes—I was not the exemplary kid who did the chores at home. The potatoes slipped out of my hands several times. Though I was not very good at peeling potatoes, I was not bad with cooking steaks and chicken on the stove. I successfully butterflied a piece of chicken and used an advanced machine to read the temperature of the steak and chicken to check whether it was ready. The temperature was 145 for the steaks and 175 for the chickens. While I was slicing the chicken and traditional gyro on the rotisserie, the cone spun on me. Every slice I cut had some sort of geometric or aesthetic defection. But I treated myself with slices of gyros that I had cut anyway.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and would definitely go back for another taste of Greek in the near future!–Elaine Jiang ‘18

Greek food: pita bread, that mysterious gyro, an arrangement of vegetables, and tzaziki sauce. Picky eater that I am, I was worried that all of these peculiar items would not be for me. Once arriving at The Simple Greek, the smells of these various items reached my nose, and they were all pleasant; it all smelled like any other restaurant I’ve been to, except I knew it wasn’t. The Original Gyro tasted like a meatball but better, and with the combination of the Tzaziki sauce and the mixed vegetables, it made one amazing gyro. I recommend that for anyone who hasn’t had Greek food, they make their way over to The Simple Greek for some traditional Greek cuisine. –Alex Sienkiewicz ‘18

Opa! A usual Sunday, but not an ordinary culinary adventure. After an early Mass, we all loaded on the bus and traveled to The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI. Stepping inside, our noses were met with a very strong, yet satisfying aroma of what I would later discover to be a mixture of spicy hummus, olive oil, traditional gyro meats, and Lemonis potatoes. Inside, the restaurant was very modern with a large, glass counter that displayed fresh ingredients and a handmade process for each meal. I noticed three large vertical broilers with enormous slabs of meat on them. My inner vegan was afraid; however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are a surplus of options. With a little help from behind the counter, I ordered an extremely delicious bowl made with lemon rice, wheat pita bread, lentils, garbanzo beans and a variety of Greek toppings. On the side, I was served a platter of traditional Greek desserts and fries seasoned with garlic and spices. My favorite of these desserts was the baklava, a sweet, flaky-bread crust filled with filo dough, walnuts, and honey. After, we all went into the kitchen to see how the food is made–such as the hummus–and make some of our own, too! Overall, our trip to The Simple Greek was phenomenal. Not only did I eat and help prepare amazing dishes, but I learned about Greek culture, what true Greek food means and tastes like. –Michael Griffin ‘18

Many people say the Simple Greek is to Greek food what Chipotle is to Mexican cuisine. This oversimplified thought does not do The Simple Greek justice, however. Both serve their food in a customizable, make-your-own fashion, and both offer a quick but quality and filling meal. However, The Simple Greek offers much more authentically Greek food than Chipotle does Mexican, with a wide variety of entrées and desserts made from authentically Greek ingredients. The salty and delectable feta cheese fries and spanakopita complemented my wholesome chicken gyro pita bread creation quite well. The meal you can create at The Simple Greek makes Greek food so much more accessible for the masses, even “feta” than Chipotle. –Arthur Shipman ‘18

I was very confused when I heard we were going to a Greek fast food restaurant. I always thought Greek food was little pockets of cooked food. When we arrived at the restaurant, I immediately thought of Chipotle. It had the same assembly line and tables around the floor. I read the menu posted up on the board. It was a choose-your-own-adventure. I picked a bowl over a pita because I was worried it would become messy. I chose white rice as my base. When I asked the staff member what “gyro” was, she explained that it was a mix of meats, and in the “traditional” can mean lamb, beef, pork or a mix of some. At The Simple Greek, their traditional gyro is a mix of beef and lamb. I like both, so I decided to try it. I then topped it with olive oil, sea salt, lettuce, feta cheese, cucumbers and chickpeas. I was nervous that I wouldn’t like one ingredient and then it would ruin the whole dish, but with my first bite I was in heaven. Everything was so fresh and the quality was amazing. Despite my bowl being the size of my head, I finished the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I like chickpeas and that lettuce can be quite tasty when consumed with the right counterparts.–Megan Madden ’18

 

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OPA!

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