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Greek Classics 

George Koromimas thinks big is good for some things, like families -- he and his wife have four young children -- and meals -- servings at his new Acropolis Cuisine restaurant will satisfy even large appetites. When it comes to restaurants, however, the chef/owner prefers to keep things intimate and manageable.

He opened Acropolis (3841 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-9046) three months ago and offers Greek and Italian fare for lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is casual, but the cuisine is upscale and the dozen or so tables are trimmed with white tablecloths. The prices also are affordable, with a four-course dinner special last week running about $13.

It isn't Koromimas' first restaurant. He started Mr. Gyros on Causeway Boulevard in Metairie about eight years ago and later sold it. He then opened Verona restaurant in Harahan, a much larger establishment, and sold it a few months ago.

"I decided to open a small place here," says Koromimas, who opts for quality over volume. "In a small place like this you can talk to all the customers, but you can also see every dish go out; I want to make sure every dish comes out properly every time."

Customers from his previous restaurants as well as new fans are keeping Koromimas and Chef Mark Lejeune busy, assembling Greek salad and moussaka -- the most popular dishes at the restaurant -- or grilling up tuna, salmon, amberjack, trout or whatever fish is the freshest at the market that morning.

"We always offer a fresh fish," Koromimas says. "But we also have the other meats like spring leg of lamb, roasted pig, gyro. And we have a large Italian menu."

The owner and Lejeune work together to bring Greek classics to life through knowledge of cooking, food and local tastes. Lejeune, who grew up in New Orleans, graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute in Baton Rouge and has worked at larger sized restaurants in the city. For a small restaurant, he says, Acropolis stays consistently busy, a tribute to its cuisine.

"We put a lot of emphasis and a lot of pride into our moussaka," he says. "We want it to be the best in the city." That goes for all the dishes. "[Koromimas] has opened up my eyes to a lot of Greek dishes. This little restaurant gets very busy; the rotation (of customers), especially on the weekends, is continual."

It's only been open for three months, but Acropolis already is developing a loyal following that is expanding largely by word of mouth.

"We haven't done that much advertising," the owner says. "People love it here, the food and the restaurant. We'll have someone come in for lunch, then they'll bring their family back in for dinner."

The restaurateur, who came to the United States from Greece 20 years ago, says his goal is never to have a customer go away unsatisfied. As a matter of fact, if someone orders a dish and doesn't care for it, they can make another selection for no extra charge. "At my restaurant, people don't have to settle for something you don't like," Koromimas says. "If you don't like what you ordered, we'll bring you something you do like."

There are plenty of menu items to choose from, whether you are in the mood for Greek hummus, pita wraps, salads, gyros, cheese and spinach pies or kebabs, which come two skewers to an order and can contain fish, pork or chicken. Other menu items include stuffed grape leaves, fried ravioli, six-onion soup, fried calamari, lasagna, pizzas, shrimp Alfredo, pork chops, braised lamb chops or even a ribeye. For about $7, diners can try a sampler with spinach-and-cheese pie, humus, baba-ghanoush, jujiki and pita bread. The four-course dinners come with soup, salad, entrée, baked potatoes, vegetables and bread pudding.

All the offerings are tasty, the owner says, but most customers go for the Greek cuisine. "About 80 percent of our customers choose Greek dishes," he says. "Maybe part of it is the name. They see Acropolis and anticipate Greek food."

Koromimas wants to keep his business small, but he still expects it to grow -- at other locations. He already is working on plans for a new restaurant in Uptown and confides a third location also is a possibility.

"I like the small restaurant," he says. "I feel very comfortable here, and I'm very happy."

click to enlarge Server Vivi Domalis, owner and chef George Koromimas (sitting) and Chef Mark Lejeune display some of Acropolis Cuisine's most popular dishes, including (clockwise) Greek salad, moussaka, grilled salmon and roasted chicken.
  • Server Vivi Domalis, owner and chef George Koromimas (sitting) and Chef Mark Lejeune display some of Acropolis Cuisine's most popular dishes, including (clockwise) Greek salad, moussaka, grilled salmon and roasted chicken.
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