Arrivederci rice balls, yiasou spanakopita!
The Smith Street storefront that housed the legendary Italian takeout joint Joe’s Superette for five decades is now home to a quaint sit-down Greek eatery with a backyard garden.
Avlee Greek Kitchen won’t serve up any mouth-watering heroes or deep-fried prosciutto balls like its divey-but-beloved predecessor, however owners Andrew Poulos and Peter Rogakos say their new eatery will share at least two things in common with Joe’s: the original pressed tin ceiling and a dedication to tradition.
“It’s authentic Greek food,” said Poulos inside the remodeled 25-seat restaurant between Carroll Street and First Place. “There is no deviation.”
Poulos and Rogakos, who both come from restaurateur parents, churn out classic Greek cuisine from the eatery’s open-kitchen such as moussaka ($12), a house-made tzatziki yogurt dip ($6), and lamb gyros ($8) prepared on a vertical spit rotisserie.
“They’re old recipes with a little bit of a touch to it,” said Rogakos, the brainchild behind the joint’s pan-fried fig roll appetizers, which are stuffed with feta cheese and herbs and wrapped in cured beef ($8). “It’s killer.”
If diners can’t get enough of the Greek flavor they can even purchase pastas, olive oils, herbs, jams, and honey — all imported from Greece — from the restaurant’s mini-grocery, a cleaned-up nod to the dusty canned foods that dotted the perpetually half-empty shelves in the former delicatessen.
Lifelong Carroll Gardens resident and longtime Joe’s Superette customer Angelo Vella said he hopes Avlee does well along Smith Street’s restaurant row.
“It’s good for the neighborhood. I would try it,” he said. “But do I miss Joe’s Superette? Yeah, I miss it for the reason that it’s another part of this neighborhood that’s changed and it hurts to see an old staple like that go.”
Poulos said he’s glad Avlee — which translates to “garden” in Greek — resides in a location with such a legacy.
“I never even met the guy, but I feel like I knew him,” he said of the late Leo Coldanato, who took over the deli from Joe, the original owner, in 1985 and created the famed bite-sized prosciutto balls and rice balls. “I enjoy coming into a successful place because superstition says that once there’s prosperity it will live on.”
Avlee Greek Kitchen [349 Smith St. between First Place and Carroll St. in Carroll Gardens, (718) 855-5125, www.avleegreekkitchen.com].