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The Most Authentic Restaurants: Greek

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October 9, 2005

Agni Charalambous Thurner, our Greek Cypriot friend, was skeptical the first time we took her to Ithaki Mediterranean Cuisine. Many Greek restaurants adapt their specialties for an American audience. But this Ipswich eatery, housed in a low white building and decorated with sunny Mediterranean colors and grand floral arrangements, doesn't veer when it comes to the classics. The dolmadakia, rolled grape leaves stuffed with savory ground beef and rice, are served with an intense avgo-lemono, the traditional egg-lemon sauce. "This is thickened just with eggs," says Thurner, "and it isn't heavy." The cinnamon-scented moussaka, layered eggplant slices and ground lamb (miraculously not oily), with a rich bechamel topping, is crusty in its terra-cotta dish. A dessert called galaktoboureko, an eggy custard in phyllo pastry that is all air and richness, is hard to find well-made anywhere. Alas, about a third of the menu is centered on other Mediterranean cultures. Authenticity reigns at Ithaki if you decide to eat like Homer.

ITHAKI MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Address: 25 Hammatt St, Ipswich

Phone: 978-978-0099

Hours: Lunch Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner Tues.-Thurs. 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5-9:30 p.m.; Sun. 4:30-8:30 p.m. Reservations accepted. No smoking.

Prices: Lunch: entrees $6-$10. Dinner: soups, salads, appetizers $4-$12; entrees $18-$23; desserts $6-8.

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