Sooner or later maybe even within weeks -- Acropolis, a homey Greek restaurant that's been open since the 1970s, will double in size. Not only that, it's about to grow taller. When the second floor officially opens, hopefully in a week or so, the restaurant's occupancy rate will go from 35 to about 70.
Not that Elmwood Avenue exactly lacks for Hellenic eating places, you understand. I can count at least four, and that's just in the city limits. But Acropolis, which serves hearty family food from a big menu, has an especially heartwarming story behind it that was shared by owner Paul Tsouflidis. He actually lived upstairs in the building with his family from the time he was 10 years old.
His parents ran the restaurant downstairs and he finally bought it from them in 2010. That's when all the reconstruction began. Greek pillars magically appeared at the outside entrance, and as for the upstairs -- it isn't residential anymore.
There aren't many surprises, frankly, on Western New York Greek restaurant menus. As mentioned above, Acropolis serves hearty family food and it's very well prepared. The selection of spreads on the meze (appetizer) platter ($13), for instance, provides many delights. Tzatziki (the cooling yogurt/cucumber mixture), hummus, kalamata and especially the melitzana (eggplant) spreads were generously served with plenty of pita to make a good start for the meal.
The Lamb Shank entree ($15) was excellent. Tender and full-flavored, it was a huge hunk of meat, accompanied by those ever-wonderful roasted Greek potatoes. We also enjoyed the Papoutsakia ($13), which is like Moussaka although the eggplant is stuffed rather than layered. But the seasoned ground beef is still there and so is the rich bechamel sauce, baked until it's thick and custardy. Moussaka is also available, as are all the other Greek favorites like gyros and souvlakis, Gemista (rice-stuffed peppers, $13) and Keftedes (meatball) dinner.
There is American food and Americanized Greek food, too. During the long hours the restaurant is open, you can order flat-bread pizzas and wraps. A dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and hummus wrap is $6.50.
At breakfast there's a Lavash pita with scrambled eggs or, even, hash and eggs.
Until the second floor is finally finished, I should warn you, seating at Acropolis can be crowded. A lot of tables are wedged in next to a very busy full bar. When the door opens, it's cold. The new addition, although the steps are steeper than you might like, hopefully will provide more comfortable space to relax.
3 stars (out of 4)
WHERE: 708 Elmwood Ave. (886-2977, www.acropolisopa.com). Traditional Greek restaurant on the edge of Allentown is about to double in size. Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
FAVORITE DISH: Papoutsakia
NEEDS WORK: Food is of good quality.
PRICE RANGE: Mezes with pita from $4 to $13. Dinner entrees with sides from $11.
HOURS: 9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, on the crowded first floor.
PARKING: On the street