Gluten free restaurant review: Opa! Authentic Greek Koozina

Since returning to Rochester, I have been on a roller coaster of activity. Between balancing the precarious act of living with fibromyalgia+cfs, re-acclimating myself to living with four other people, and building this blog (and my fibro blog) I have had little time for much else. Last weekend, I devoted one day to bond with my best friend. Both of us made a vow to actually get out and try the amazing cuisine that our city has to offer since we agree that Rochester is a melting pot of culture and cuisine and now that I have left and returned; I can appreciate that more than I did before.

Living gluten zero means that the search for awesome restaurants that meet my various dietary needs is all the more challenging. But when have I ever backed down from a challenge? My friend suggested that our first stop be the relatively new Greek restaurant Opa! I eagerly perused the online menu (analyzing it like a PhD research assistant) to see if it was gluten zero friendly. Greek cuisine is certainly not my area of expertise, and I wasn’t expecting to find much that I would be able to eat. Upon arriving to the restaurant, I was surprised to find that the menu was beautifully labeled with (v) and (G) on several selections; a detail that I had overlooked during my online research. It is always nice to find restaurants that consider vegans and the gluten intolerant when creating their menus and going the extra mile to actually label these on the menu is even better.

The staff was friendly and very accommodating and the restaurant is spacious with plenty of booth and open seating. After being seated and ordering our drinks we received the expansive menu; that includes a plethora of salads, pizza, pannis, a fish fry, seafood dishes, and much much more. The waitress was very friendly and patient as my friend deliberated (and deliberated some more) over his selection.

After much deliberation (nearly 30 minutes to be exact) I chose the SPANAKORIZO which is meat free dish of sauteed spinach, rice, onions and tomatoes topped with a lemon dill broth. I subbed the rice with lemon pepper potatoes and added a side Greek salad. LB (my friend) chose the MOUSSAKA which is basically the Greek version of lasagna with beef, layered eggplant, zucchini, goat cheese, and potatoes. The food is prepared to order; meaning that it is fresh but takes time. We were in no rush and the extra time allowed us to catch up.

Once our food arrived and my Greek salad was retrieved which the waitress initially forgot, we were down to business. My dish was well seasoned with more than enough lemon and pepper. I would have preferred more spinach over potatoes but overall the dish was good. My friend enjoyed his Moussaka and meticulously inspected and savored every bite.

Since gluten zero desserts are a true anomaly; I didn’t even bother to ask to see the dessert menu. My friend however, is a dessert aficionado and as usual requested the dessert menu. I am not sure if authentic Greek cuisine excludes major desserts; but the selections at Opa! are very few. We opted to head over to Dairy Queen instead where I treated myself to a small Vanilla Dish and my friend got the Brownie Sundae.

Opa! gave us a decent Greek experience and even though I would have like to see more gluten zero and vegan selections; the dish that I selected was satisfying and I am not against returning. More importantly, I am happy that I was able to get out of the house and engage in a “normal” weekend activity, catch up with a friend, soak up the sun, and eat outside my typical fare.

Rating 3.5/5

Photo courtes of Closet Cooking (Spanakorizo)

Photo courtesy of Food Network (Moussaka)

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