Chris Balouris grew up in the restaurant business. For 40 years, his dad and uncle ran authentic Greek eatery Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue.
Balouris has opened a new spot on the same street.
Evia, named after the Greek island where his father was born and raised, specializes in comfort food from that tiny region of the globe.
“This is traditional Greek food, not an Americanized version of it,” Balouris says. “You’ll feel like you’re eating a meal at someone’s home in Greece.”
Yes, there are gyros, but Balouris is excited to introduce Pittsburghers to dishes they can’t get anywhere else in the city, including Youvarlakia, a meatball-and-rice soup topped with an egg-lemon sauce.
Another soon-to-be-customer-favorite is the Halloumi Fries. Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese that originated in Cyprus. It’s made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk and, due to its high melting point, can be fried or grilled. At Evia, they serve it with different yogurt dipping sauces.
Balouris calls the fries “mozzarella sticks on steroids.”
He knows a thing or two about Greek cuisine. After a long stint working in corporate food sales in New York City, he returned to Pittsburgh to get back to his roots. For the past 15 years, he’s owned Salonika Imports in the Strip District.
Founded in 1987, the business on the corner of 35th and Smallman streets, imports, sells and distributes fine Mediterranean foods such as olives, olive oil, fillo dough, feta cheese, pastries, figs and dates. They also offer catering services and a Greek lunch menu on Fridays.
Evia gives more people a chance to try Greek food at affordable prices.
Balouris couldn’t wait to open up in the old neighborhood.
“Bellevue is having a resurgence,” he says. “It has a really good vibe and a nice mix of demographics. We’ll have all Greeks working at Evia. I’m Greek. My wife is Greek. We’ll all have our thumbprint on the business.”