Friday, May 23, 2014
Voula's Greek Sweets Review and Giveaway
Pizza shows up on menus in unexpected places, so when a new restaurant opens, I always try to check the menu to see if it might include pizza.
Greek, or more broadly, "Mediterranean" restaurants often have pizza on their menus, and so it is that I found myself recently at Voula's Greek Sweets on Monroe Avenue.
Despite the name, Voula's offers more than just sweets. Yes, you'll find those, from the expected baklava to less familiar, but equally enticing cakes and pastries. But Voula's also has a substantial menu of more savory dishes, including pizza.
As an aside, this touches upon the subject of so-called Greek pizza. The term can mean a couple of different things, as explained here, and there is some debate about whether the Greeks should get credit for inventing pizza.
Those are topics for another day. But whether "authentic" or not, a fair number of Greek restaurants around here offer pizza, or some variation thereof.
Voula's take on pizza consists of house-made lagana bread, a yeast-risen, focaccia-like Greek bread, which includes olive oil in the ingredients. After the crust is parbaked, toppings are added and then the pizza is finished in the oven.
Pizzas are offered as a daily special, with the toppings varying from one day to the next, although certain pies show up with some regularity. On my visit, the pizza du jour was topped with skordalia (a garlic-based sauce), onion, vine-ripened tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, and mozzarella, feta and Kaseri cheeses. One stray Kalamata olive also sneaked in, which was fine with me.
The crust had a light golden brown underside, a crunchy exterior, and some chewiness inside. The edge was crunchier still, with a slight oiliness that was just detectable on my fingertips.
I found this, on the whole, a well balanced and flavorful pie. The crust had a pleasing, bready aroma, and was nicely complemented by the toppings. The melted mozzarella provided a textural contrast to both the crust and the feta and Kaseri cheeses, which also imparted some salty, lactic tanginess. With hints of garlic and the addition of fresh parsley (obviously added after the pie came out of the oven), this made for a tasty and enjoyable lunch.
I'm not going to rate this pizza, for a couple of reasons. One, it falls outside the mainstream of pizza that you typically find around here. It's hard to compare this to an ordinary pepperoni pie. So to some extent, it's an apples-and-oranges situation.
Second, I've spoken to Voula herself, who graciously agreed to provide a $15 gift certificate for me to give away to one lucky reader. And to avoid creating the impression that I'm trading good grades for gift certificates or other favors, I'll not assign any letter rating to this pizza. But I think I've accurately described it and I can honestly say that I enjoyed it.
Now, about that gift certificate: regular readers know the routine by now. Just leave a comment after this blog post. You don't have to provide your full name at this point, but purely anonymous comments will not be eligible to win.
I will pick a winner, at random, in one week, Friday, May 29, shortly after noon. The winner will be announced here, on Facebook, and via Twitter. If you win, you'll need to send me your mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voula's Greek Sweets, 439 Monroe Ave.
Mon - Fri: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm