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At one time it was home to corporate pizzas, as bland and predictable as the building they were made in. Today the shell of this former Pizza Hut still stands, but inside you will no longer find God-awful garlic bread served by minimum-wage slaves. Instead, at Greek Flame Taverna you'll find warm homemade pitas and other Greek treats served with pride by the Chrisan-thidis family.

They've tried to exorcise all the old deep-dish demons. The restaurant is painted classic blue and white. It's clean and decorated with pieces of Greek culture. There are Greek murals on the wall, classic statue replicas, traditional clothes on display and a map of Greece on the place mats.

The Greek Flame is far from fancy, but it's a nice alternative to fast food, especially if you're taking the kids out. The staff went out of its way to remind me how cute my son is. They also had a bunch of toys to keep him out of trouble while I read the laminated menu.

We sampled two appetizers. I found the saganaki ($4.95), a flaming cheese, to be an appropriate start. Just like the lighting of the Olympic torch, the cheese is set on fire and carried to the table. The fire is put out with lemon, which adds to the flavor. It tasted even better when wrapped inside a warm pita. I also enjoyed the spanakopita ($4.50), a light dish of spinach in a flaky phyllo dough.

I'm a relatively large man, so I ordered the "Hercules platter" ($9.95), which features large samples of four dishes. The gyro meat, a combination of beef and lamb, was served in thin shavings. It was tender and appropriately seasoned. The dolmades – grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice – were fine. I enjoyed the mousaka, layers of eggplant, ground beef and potato topped with béchamel sauce. Also delicious was the pistichio, a lasagna of ground beef and noodle, also topped with béchamel.

While Hercules and I were celebrating the thrill of victory, another member of our party was tasting the agony of defeat. She ordered a shrimp-and-garlic special ($10.95). While the shrimp was fresh and tasty, a couple of the jumbos were served without being properly cleaned (oops!).

After the shrimp slip-up, our table bounced back quickly with dessert. The Greek coffee ($1.25) gave us a lift somewhere between espresso and Cuban coffee. The baklava ($1.95) was obviously homemade, as was the galaktobouriko ($2.25), a Greek custard with phyllo dough.

Overall I was satisfied. The food is fine, and when it's time to pay the bill, you won't have to groan. A family of four can get their fill for about 40 bucks.


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