Please do not disrobe and put on a backless gown.
The stark-white, fluorescent lit interior of the take-out only Greek Street Pizza and More in Coeur d’Alene’s Ironwood Plaza may have you confused into thinking you just walked into one of the neighborhood’s many medical clinics, but you’ll soon discover that there’s plenty of homespun warmth and comfort to be had.
Owner Peter Karatzas uses recipes that go back in his family at least 75 years and an outsized, welcoming personality that will keep you entertained and encompassed in anticipation for his edible masterworks to emerge.
Greek Street’s main attraction is pizza so brain-bogglingly rich and tasty, so organically crave-worthy and made with love from nothing but the finest, top-notch ingredients that you may never think of pizza in the same way again.
Karatzas nearly goes overboard while boasting about his culinary creations, but as you may glean from my enthusiastic raving, he’s pretty much allowed to get away with it. “It’s just a fact, there’s no other place in town that even comes close to doing what we do. We are the best, and people are going to figure it out soon,” he bragged as I stood in the Greek Street lobby, tummy a-growl, waiting as his young son Telly got to work preparing my lunch.
He certainly has the history and experience to back up all his bravado. “I was a bad kid,” he told me in his animated, Greek accent. He continued on about how, perhaps as a preventative form of punishment, at age 10 his parents put him to work in the local bread factory in their hometown on the small island of Kalymnos. “Some of the recipes were 4,000 years old, so I really got to know my stuff,” he claims.
Prior to relocating to this area, the family spent nearly 25 years running a popular Italian eatery in Colville, Wash., and if the endless five-star online user reviews of that place are anything to go by, he does indeed know his stuff. His prices may be a few dollars higher than what one might expect at a take-out joint, but at Greek Street you’re paying for 100 percent quality.
The matter of pricing brought up another one of Karatzas’ many stories. Apparently, a customer at his old restaurant in Colville would complain regularly that the food was quite amazing but the prices were a bit on the high side for his liking. At some point, the man traveled to Italy and ended up paying $75 for a meal that completely paled in comparison to Karatzas’ signature creations.
“After that, he never complained about it again,” Karatzas told me with a laugh. Specialty pizzas range from $13.95 to $19.95 and include items such as “La Greca” (baby spinach, roasted red peppers, red onions, artichoke, feta, fresh garlic and oregano), the “Roman” (Proscuitto ham, Capicola ham, pepperoni, and four varieties of cheese), and the “Steakhouse Ranch” (steak strips, bacon, red onions, mushrooms, cheeses and ranch sauce).
For solo diners, a variety of pizzaloni are offered, which are similar to calzones, but shaped more like an elongated bread loaf and significantly plumper.
True to its name, Greek Street also features a handful of Greek specialties, such as gyros, spanakopita (a spinach-feta cheese pie), baklava, and tyropita (baked chicken breast in phyllo dough with fresh cheeses, baby spinach and red onions). When I visited for lunch, I also spotted a daily special of a three-topping “baby pizza” for $5.95, which is likely the best option for wallet-watching lunch goers.
I opted for a pizzaloni with pepperoni and olives and when I returned home and opened the Styrofoam to-go box, my taste buds immediately started weeping tears of joy, realizing they were in for a treat like they hadn’t experienced in ages. Indeed, with an oozy meld of Asiago, Romano, mozzarella and real Parmesan inside a lightly crispy golden shell of homemade dough, it caused a pleasant rush of food euphoria. The red sauce was a bouquet of garden-fresh Italian herbs and sweet tomatoes and the pepperoni was positively packed with flavor.
Simply incredible, and my generous portion of their wonderful baklava was a delicious way to follow up. Hot tip: Keep your appetites ready. Karatzas mentioned that Greek Street is readying a sit-down location in Hayden’s Prairie shopping center with an expanded menu that will also include many Italian favorites from his old Colville eatery. See you there.