When I heard Santorini, the long-lived Greek restaurant in the southwestern suburbs, had relocated, I realized that I hadn’t written about Greek food in this town in years. Years!
Of course, there hasn’t been a lot to say. The Twin Cities’ Greek scene has been stable as a rock: Christos, It’s Greek to Me, and Gardens of Salonica are as dependable as clockwork. They’re also inexpensive and darn good. In fact, it took Santorini’s relocation to make me notice that, taken as a whole, our Greek scene is stronger than any other restaurant scene in this state—better than our supper clubs, better than our Italian joints, better than our chef-driven places. How odd to have such uniformly high-quality Greek in the land of uff da.
That doesn’t mean those restaurants are uniformly excellent, mind you. I grew up in Queens, in a largely Greek neighborhood, and we Minnesotans definitely lack some of the more exuberant Greek celebration dishes. Why not roast a whole lamb on a spit? And, of course, we don’t have the fresh-from-the-Mediterranean seafood you get in Greece. (Local fish importers tell me Mediterranean fish don’t weather the journey well.)
I was thinking of how Santorini might fit into this global and regional picture of Greek food as I motored down to their new digs, near the southwesternmost corner of I-494. But then I was knocked positively starry by the opulent fountain outside their palatial new spread—think Rome’s Trevi Fountain by way of New Jersey. And that, my friends, is what sets the new Santorini apart. I spent my whole meal dizzy with déjà vu conjuring visions of the Garden State. Where were Carmela, Tony, and the rest of the Sopranos crew? There’s marble everywhere. The place is huge. It’s luxe. It’s classy. The opulence is not restricted to the décor: The food was actually great. I adore the Colorado-raised lamb chops a la Thebes, which were rosy, berry-sweet, and perfect—definitely worth the premium price over the New Zealand lamb. The dolmades were tender, the marinated octopus flavorful, the Greek salad appropriately overabundant, and the other little plates, or mezedes, exactly what they should be.
I don’t know if it’s that much better than the Twin Cities’ other Greek restaurants, but it’s quite likely the best restaurant in the generally complacent southwestern suburbs. Skeptical? Order an ouzo on the deck this summer and watch the fountain spray, and you will agree: In the land of uff da, Greek is one of our most surprising strengths.
13000 Technology Dr.,
Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday