- Ready spaghetti George & Lito’s takes Greek and Italian most of the way. photo Julé Malet-Veale
Café Vienna gave way to the Pyramid, which has given way to something a little different. George & Lito's is the latest occupant to sit on this corner (Windsor and Duncan Streets), giving the patrons of the Bluenose laundromat next door something to do while waiting for the rinse cycle (but you don't have to wash clothes to get served).
George & Lito's, named for the fathers of the couple that own the place, is certainly sexier than its forebears. A partition runs lengthwise down the long, narrow dining room to divide the table section (painted white and black) from the booth side (black and red). On the red walls are sepia-toned and black-and-white family pictures---a comfortable, familiar touch.
The menu is as eclectic, with Italian and Greek specialties representing both sides of the family tree and traditional Maritime dishes such as fish and chips.
Most of the appetizers are the deep-fried, typical offerings found in most middle-of-the-road restaurants (onion rings, mozza sticks, poutine and so on). We opt for the rings and the veggie samosa, which comes with a choice of three sauces---in our case, mango. The rings are fine, crispy enough and as expected. The samosa is delicious: a very large triangle stuffed with potatoes, peas and all kinds of goodness. The accompanying mango chutney is sufficiently sweet to act as counterpoint to the samosa's heat.
A word on the cutlery here---it's dirty and cheap. I hate cutlery that is so flimsy it feels as though it will snap off in my hand (and I hate it when someone else's breakfast is hardened onto the tines of my fork).
We have a brand spankin' new server today. She's still in training and she's delightful. I love it when someone is up front about not knowing how big a portion is, or unsure of exactly what the ingredients are. (If you try and bluff that stuff, you look foolish.)
Giving equal opportunity to both George and Lito's roots, we're having the moussaka and the chicken parmagiana. The chicken parm is served in a ceramic boat, the chicken breast topped with tomato sauce and plenty of cheese. A serving of spaghetti with meat sauce is on the side, as is a small Caesar salad.
The moussaka is a big square of the Greek layered-potato dish, with a piece of warm baguette.
The first thing that comes to mind when sampling the dishes is "bold." Tastes are big here---the Caesar is heavily laced with garlic, the spaghetti sauce has an undeniable tomato presence. The cook here is not afraid of flavour. I'm almost willing to overlook the shamefully overcooked spaghetti.
Chicken breasts in parmagiana dishes are typically breaded, but in this case it isn't and I really like it, especially because it's not been baked into oblivion. The moussaka is an excellent representation of the Greek classic: plenty of creamy potatoes, layers of eggplant and a yummy ground-beef sauce.
We save room and split a piece of tiramisu cheesecake, which doesn't really capture the true taste of tiramisu but is nevertheless a pleasant dessert experience.
George and Lito's is neither a chic neighbourhood eatery like the superb jane's on the common, nor is it a run-of-the-mill comfort-food factory like Cousins. It falls, happily, somewhere in between. With just a couple of kinks to work out, this restaurant is a solid place to have a decent meal and isn't that what most of us are looking for when we eat out?