Revisiting Greek cuisine in Cohasset
Our friends, just back from a vacation in Greece, were craving some genuine Greek food — and they excitedly announced they had found it at a new place next to Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 3A in Cohasset.
The lamb souvlaki — skewered chunks of grilled meat served with creamy, yogurt- based tzatsiki sauce — was especially authentic, they raved.
And where there is souvlaki, we reasoned, baklava — the traditional honey-oozing dessert — couldn’t be far behind.
So we swung over to the strip mall to check out Constantine’s, the latest venture of Ralph Constantine, whose family started the Jamie’s Grille & Pub chain on the South Shore.
The restaurant opened in June in a space where several restaurants — remember Acapulco’s, Pacini’s, or Blackstone Tavern? — had failed in recent years.
But Constantine’s wife is related to the family that ran Signorelli’s restaurant in the same location for about two decades starting in the 1950s, and we’re guessing Constantine’s could have similar staying power.
Constantine is Greek and his wife is Italian, and the menu offers both cuisines.
We decided to focus on the Greek dishes, and started with saganaki ($10), pan-seared kasseri cheese that is flambéed with lemon and brandy. It arrived flaming gently, and once it cooled we dipped in with pita chips. Gooey and salty, it was studded with bits of Kalamata olives.
A cup of avgolemano ($4), creamy chicken and rice soup, was perfectly accented with tangy lemon.
The roasted beet salad ($8) was beautifully presented with layers of red and yellow beets, candied walnuts, and crumbled gorgonzola cheese — all sprinkled with olive oil. We added a lamb kabob ($5), which made a satisfying dinner combined with the salad.
The lamb souvlaki ($17) was served with rice pilaf, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, pita bread, and the yogurt sauce. Yes, it was tasty.
A traditional Greek gyro sandwich ($8) featured the same sauce over lamb and beef strips folded with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions into pita bread.
And the Greek garden salad ($8) was a meal in itself, with lots of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, and a creamy dressing.
Our waitress told us the pizzas at Constantine’s were the best she’d ever had, so we tried the pizza special ($12) and it was true to its name. A thin crispy crust was covered with fontina cheese, figs, baby arugula, and prosciutto, and the result was a satisfying combination of sweet and salty, softness and crunch.
The fish of the day ($18) was an almond-crusted salmon served with rice-stuffed grape leaves, grilled tomatoes, fried feta, and orange-mustard chutney. The fish was nicely cooked, and the chutney added an interesting sweetness. The grape leaves were cold, though, and difficult to cut.
Several dishes arrived less than piping hot, but we were willing to chalk it up to a busy dining room — a party of 12 arrived when we did — and the restaurant’s relative youth.
All was forgiven when the desserts, which are made by Ralph Constantine’s mother, arrived.
Rizogalo ($5) was a delicate rice pudding served in a parfait glass and topped with fresh berries and a sweet, sautéed strip of banana.
The chocolate amaretto mousse bomb ($7) was intensely chocolate. The mound of mousse was coated with thicker dark chocolate and sat on raspberry puree.
And, of course, there was baklava ($5), layers of flaky filo dough infused with walnuts and honey.
The restaurant, which has a separate bar off the main dining room, serves wine by the glass or bottle (prices range from $20 to $68 a bottle, with most between $20 and $30.) There’s an extensive beer list and hot and cold mixed drinks.