A slice of Greece in Severna Park Romilo's: The restaurant offers good food at modest prices, in a cheery shopping-plaza location on Ritchie Highway

$50 and under

October 01, 1998|By David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp | David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You might think of Romilo's restaurant as a neighborhood Greek joint -- assuming that suburban communities such as Severna Park have the neighborhood feel once found in small urban enclaves or small-town America.

Tucked into the Valu Food Festival Shopping Center, Romilo's and its window signs boasting the best pizza in Severna Park are nearly invisible to passing traffic on bustling Ritchie Highway. Fortunately, inside Romilo's you'd hardly know that Ritchie Highway was there.

We tried the restaurant on a Sunday night and were surprised at its bright, cheery feel and by how much we liked its food.

We started with soups -- David declaring the Greek orzo (beef, vegetables and tender rice-shaped orzo pasta) excellent, Bonnie little disappointed in a mild Maryland crab soup that was heavy on tomato and light on crab.

Tossed salads contained iceberg lettuce, but it was amazingly crisp and did not dominate the dish. Rather, there was a balance of equally fresh tomato, cucumber, red onion and black olives (watch out for those pits!) and plenty of crumbled feta cheese, with a house dressing of oil and vinegar seasoned with garlic, oregano and Parmesan. Bonnie added anchovies.

Although the menu includes pizza, sandwich and hamburger fare, with plenty of Italian pasta possibilities, we stuck with the Greek specialties of the house.

Bonnie's chicken souvlaki platter ($8.95) included tender chunks moist white meat with a sour cream-and-garlic tzatziki sauce, served over toasted pita bread, with dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice) and french fries (well, not everything was Greek).

David ordered the menu's third-most-expensive entree, baby rack of lamb ($13.95), a generous dish with seven slender but meaty grilled rib chops with the marinade of oil, oregano and other spices slightly blackened in the cooking. It came with seasoned yellow rice and the tzatziki sauce served over lettuce and tomato.

The blend of tzatziki, the seasoning of the lamb and flavor of the rice were magical.

And the portions of both dishes were more than ample.

For dessert, David had cheesecake while Bonnie stayed with the ethnic theme and ordered Romilo's very sweet baklava.

Co-owner Nick Moshonis, a native of the Greek island of Mitilini, said he has been in the restaurant business since 1974, at one time operating four establishments before selling them to make time for family life.

He opened Romilo's four years ago with partner and friend Gary Kakoulis, who had operated a restaurant in the Fort Meade area.

Judging by the smiles of the people taking up three other tables there after 8 p.m. on a slow Sunday, and our own satisfaction, they're doing quite a job, offering good food at modest prices. Moshonis advises, however, that prices will be rising slightly when new menus arrive.

But that's not so bad. Our feast, with two glasses of wine, ran a reasonable $38.43 before tip.

Romilo's

Where: 478A Ritchie Highway, in the Valu Food Festival Shopping Center, Severna Park. 410-544-6188

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Entrees, $4.50-$15.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Rating: *** 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland -- **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 10/01/98

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