Zorba’s Mediterranean Grille & Bar is a restaurant in Bonita Springs that serves Greek Cuisine. The restaurant has been open since March 1988. I will venture a guess and say that under one-half of one percent of our local, independently owned restaurants have been open for over 30 years. More on this later.
At its most deconstructed, Greek, and associated Mediterranean Cuisines, revolve around wheat, olives and grapes. These yield bread/pasta, olive oil, and wine, respectively.
I had not dined at Zorba’s for quite some time and decided to take a second (or third, fourth or fifth) look. It has been a while. One of the things I have always liked about Zorba’s is the ample availability of outdoor dining. This is always a plus for me no matter what season it is in Florida.
The restaurant’s menu has lots of Greek favorites in addition to Mediterranean-inspired takes on others. My dining companion and I went here for lunch and tried a couple of items.
Before our lunch selections were served, a generous portion of pita triangles with seasoned olive oil was brought to the table. The pita was unusual. It was fully baked but had a strong residual flavor of uncooked flour. This was something I was unaccustomed to and became important later during lunch.
My dining companion ordered the Greek salad. It was wonderful and a bargain at the same time; the portion here served on a
dinner-sized plate. The Greek salad had the usual suspects on it. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, pepperoncini, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, dolmathakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves ) and feta cheese.
There are optional protein additions available for this salad but with this portion size, they seem superfluous. The dressing is a Greek Vinaigrette, with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano. In my mind, with this portion size and price point, this is one of the better lunch salads in Southwest Florida.
I ordered the gyro sandwich. Gyro meat can be made from many types of meat and is cooked rotisserie style like al pastor or Doner Kebab. At the restaurant, I picked the gyro made from a combination of lamb and beef.
The sandwich is topped with onions, tomatoes, and Tzatziki Sauce, that wonderful Greek condiment make from yogurt, garlic, cucumbers and olive oil. The sandwich is served with either fries or a Greek salad.
This was a good lunch dish, but unfortunately, the flouriness of the pita bread really put a damper on the flavor profile of the sandwich. I resolved this by just eating the contents of the sandwich, using my pita bread as a second serving plate. Problem solved.
My dining companion and I went back for happy hour to try more menu items. Happy hour is from 3-6 PM Monday – Saturday and is served at the bar indoors and at the outside dining area. It features special pricing on select appetizers and specials on alcoholic beverages.
The first thing ordered from the appetizer menu was saganaki, a must-order at Zorba’s. Saganaki is made from Kefalograviera cheese. This is a mixture of two Greek kinds of cheese, one salty and highly flavored, the other somewhat neutral. Unknown to us, this is really a production at Zorba’s. It is brought to your table, doused with Ouzo, a high alcohol anise-flavored Greek liquor, and flambed, or set on fire. Unfortunately, I was not quick enough with my camera to capture this, but it will definitely “light up” your meal. The finished product was excellent and highly recommended.
We also ordered Bifteki, sort of a Greek hamburger without the bun. Bifteki can be prepared in a number of different ways. The common thread is ground beef seasoned with herbs, one of which is oregano, the sine qua non of Greek seasoning, and cheese. At Zorba’s, the burger is stuffed with cheese (smoked gouda) instead of being placed on top.
The bifteki is served over shoestring fries and comes with red onion and tomato marinated in olive oil. This menu offering was excellent. As you cut into the burger, the cheese runs onto the fries, giving you an almost Poutine-esq dish. Again, highly recommended.
We also sampled the feta and olive dish. It was ok, though far from the highlight of the meal. The tomato and basil bisque was also ordered. It is not a traditional bisque made from the broth of strained seafood shells. It is made from roasted tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan cheese cream. It was delicious and a nice menu item to share.
The real star of this meal was the souvlaki. Souvlaki literally means skewered meat and is traditionally meant to be eaten with pita bread in Greece. It comes at the restaurant
with either chicken or pork kebabs, or you can mix and match as we did. The skewered meats are interspersed with onion, green pepper, and tomatoes, and are out of this world delicious.
The kebabs are served with tzatziki sauce and rather tasty rice pilaf. I thought the pita may be better doused with the meat juice and seasonings of the kebabs, though they were not. That uncooked flour taste from the pita bread again put a damper on the pita’s contents. These skewers were so good though it didn’t matter.
The food at Zorba’s was good to excellent. From the items sampled, you will not have a bad meal here. There are only less than a handful of independently-owned restaurants in the area that have been around for two or three decades that I can think of. At all of these, there is a reason for their longevity. They all prepare an excellent product that has stood the test of time. In Zorba’s case, not only is the food really good but so are the prices, which fall into the lower mid-range of local restaurants. Old friends are always fun to get together with, and Zorba’s is no exception. It was as good as I remembered and is highly recommended.
It’s a wrap for another post on Forks.
9106 Bonita Beach Rd.
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Open Monday-Saturday. Lunch served 1030 AM to 4 PM; Dinner 5-9 PM; Happy hour 3-6 PM at the indoor bar and outdoor dining area; All major credit cards accepted.
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