Opa! Ambeli opens

Opa%21+Ambeli+opens

Lauren Sullivan and Alex Sumas

Welcome to the restaurant that makes you feel like a part of a big Greek family!
Ambeli opened its Westfield location on Elm Street on May 17. The restaurant offers authentic Greek food within a communal atmosphere. Every customer is greeted like family at the front door by owner Christos Zavolas and his wife, Anna.
The staff is very helpful: They create a stress-free experience if you are unfamiliar with Greek cuisine. And if you are Greek, they love to talk with you about your family as well as their own.
Westfield is Ambeli’s second location. On opening night, loyal customers from the Cranford location came to show their support throughout the evening.
For appetizers, we ordered saganaki ($8) and spanakopita ($10). Saganaki is imported Greek kefalograviera cheese that is pan-fried so that it’s crunchy on the outside and stringy when cut. Spanakopita is a classic Greek favorite that consists of layered pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese. While it was flavorful and flaky, it was on the cold side, but since it was the restaurant’s opening night, small errors like this were to be expected.
For our entrées we had paidakia ($29) and pastitsio ($15), which came out right as we finished our appetizers. Paidakia is charcoal-grilled baby loin lamb chops with hand-cut fried potatoes and spinach. Pastitsio is layers of Greek macaroni and seasoned ground beef topped with béchamel sauce, which is a creamy, white sauce. Both classic Greek dishes were well-seasoned and cooked to perfection.
We rounded out our night with dessert. We had the baklava ($6), which is a sweet, layered pastry filled with walnuts and honey.
In addition to the food and staff being delightful, the decor and setup add a charming ambiance throughout. Ambeli has large doors that were open during our dinner, which let in a refreshing breeze.
Ambeli also has a spacious interior, and murals of grape vines and Grecian landscapes added to the feeling that we were in the Mediterranean. The murals were a cute touch, as “ampéli” means “vineyard” in Greek.
Overall, Ambeli is the place to go if you’re looking for delicious Greek food and a great atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re part of the family.