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Article posted: 9/27/2013 6:00 AM

Opa!'s Greek cuisine shines in new Oakbrook Terrace location


Melitzanosalata, spanakopitakia and hapothi sti skhara. At first blush, these tongue-twister dishes can throw diners for a loop, especially those unfamiliar with the delights of the Greek table.

But all three staples of the cuisine -- and a host of others -- are available and deliciously prepared at Opa! Estiatorio. The place, owned by brothers John and Chris Georges, relocated to 1S130 Summit Ave., Oakbrook Terrace in early summer from its previous home of eight years in Vernon Hills.

For the record, melitzanosalata is a traditional roasted garlic-eggplant spread with onions, tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil; spanakopitakia are phyllo-stuffed mini spinach pies with feta cheese; and htapothi sti skhara are olive oil-coated octopus flame-grilled and served in tender, bite-size chunks with fresh lemon.

I tried each of these dishes, and all were palate-pleasing fare.

Various spreads, including a heavenly taramasalata (fish roe-lemon and oil emulsion), can be ordered singly or in combination with two others.

Saganaki, the flaming cheese appetizer, may be an American innovation, but that doesn't diminish the pleasure it can deliver when done right. And Opa! Estiatorio's staff does a fine job with kefalograviera, a sheep's milk Grecian cheese that's briefly rolled in flour, lightly fried and then flambeed tableside with brandy.

Opa! Estiatorio's menu features some 16 Greek comfort food options, including chicken, gyros, moussaka, pastitsio and grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and topped with an egg-lemon sauce. Also available is a wide assortment of lamb preparations, such as roast leg and braised lamb and butterflied lamb chops.

The kitchen is receptive to vegetarian and gluten-free requests.

Among entrees, the baked salmon was especially good eating. This flavorful fillet was perfectly cooked and came stuffed with spinach and feta cheese and plated with briami -- a seasonal mix of oven-roasted vegetables including zucchini, potato, onion, peas and tomato.

Having trouble settling on a main dish? A number of combination plate possibilities offer good choices, and there's a prix fixe $23.95-a-person family-style dinner on offer for parties of two or more.

For even greater variety consider selecting a handful of items from the appetizer side of the menu for a perfectly respectable tapas-style dinner.

Made-in-house desserts include such standards as baklava and galaktobureko, a semolina-based custard in phyllo. I can vouch for the karidopita, a moist walnut cake flavored with cinnamon and bathed in honey syrup.

Opa! Estiatorio took over the space formerly occupied by Costa's Greek Restaurant. The free-standing building looks smart outside and in, with a white stucco exterior accented in Mediterranean blue and a cheery interior with handsome wooden flooring, white linen-covered tables and flattering sconce lighting.

The staff is on the ball, and there's seating for 300 on the main floor, including a private dining space for 70. An upstairs banquet room can be booked for large functions.

The restaurant has full bar service. Its wines, mostly Greek mixed with a sprinkling of California vintages, are modestly priced at $26-$54 a bottle; $7-$10 by the glass.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not review restaurants it cannot recommend.

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