Larry Savvas, the founder of Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill, was no stranger to the restaurant industry when he opened his new eatery in Atascocita in June 2011.
He had operated a restaurant in Greece, his native country, since 2001, before he and his wife and restaurant manager, Lisa Savvas, decided to move back to the U.S. so their children could pursue higher education opportunities.
Larry said driving around the Lake Houston area, there were not many options for ethnic food, mostly just Tex-Mex or Chinese restaurants. The Savvases eventually decided on a location on Atascocita Road near FM 1960.
“We checked the areas surrounding Houston, and [Atascocita] was one of the best areas,” Larry said. “It’s a family-oriented area—nice and clean with friendly people.”
Today, the counter-service restaurant offers more than 60 traditional Greek menu options as well as beer and wine. Larry said some regular customers travel from as far away as Pasadena, Texas, to eat at Savvas.
“Everything we cook here is from scratch,” he said. “We don’t get anything that is premade. We make everything fresh, plus we use the best ingredients.”
While some restaurants may use standard ground beef, Savvas buys only Black Angus beef, trims off the fat and grinds the meat in-house, Larry said. Savvas also only cooks with fresh herbs instead of dry ones.
Baklava, one of the restaurant’s most popular desserts, is made daily with original ingredients.
“We use the real butter, honey and sugar, and we put tons of walnuts in it,” Lisa said. “If you buy [baklava] at the grocery store, it has oil or margarine and just a little bit of honey.”
Many of the recipes resemble those that chefs in northern Greece would use to prepare a meal. However, some of them, like his lamb shank recipe, which is only served Friday through Sunday, belonged to Larry’s mother.
“It’s one of my mother’s old recipes where you have to slow cook the lamb shank in a tomato sauce with wine,” he said. “We slow cook it overnight, and the next day it’s ready. We have to let it sit in the brine so it can soften up and then falls apart.”
Another popular dish is the gyro plate, which comes with a generous helping of gyro meat—made from lamb and beef—as well as a choice of two sides, pita bread, and a small portion of tzatziki sauce, which is prepared fresh each morning and afternoon.
Lisa said although she knows there are many restaurant options available in Atascocita, customers choose her restaurant because there are healthy options on the menu.
“I believe ours is healthier because we prepare it ourselves,” she said. “We do as much as we can here in our kitchen. Parents like the fact that our food is fresher and healthier for their kids.”
Baklava is a customer dessert favorite at Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill ($3.25).[/caption]
A guide to Greek desserts
- Baklava: A dough pastry with ground walnuts, cinnamon and honey ($3.25)
- Galaktoboureko: Pastry filled with custard and house made syrup ($3.25)
- Risogalo: Features Greek rice pudding with cinnamon ($3.25)
- Melomakarona: A cookie with walnuts, cinnamon and orange zest ($3.25)
- Gyro plate ($11.95)
- Greek salad ($4.50, small), ($7.50, large)
- Egg and lemon chicken soup ($3.95, small), ($6.95, large)
- Tzatziki dip ($3.95, small), ($6.95, large)