The Naughty Greek Gyro
One of the saddest days of adult life is the day you realize nearly all the gyros in the great U. S. of A. come from one central supplier, and are really as uniformly the same as different cans of Coke in different gas stations. And then, one of the happiest days is when you find someone making a gyro from scratch! Ladies and gentlemen, lend me your Greek-loving ears, for there is a gem in St. Paul you need to visit: The Naughty Greek.
Angelo Giovannis opened this tiny storefront in December on Snelling and Selby, with pork gyros made from scratch. He layers Minnesota pork with herbs, garlic, olive oil, and citrus in a mighty tower, then puts the whole thing in the classic gyro-turning magic situation and lets it roast until the meat is crackly and crisp in parts, and meaty and tender in others. Order a gyro, Giovannis slices it off and places it in a warm pita with a thick and excellent tangy yogurt tzatziki sauce, thinly sliced tomatoes, onions, and extra crisp French fries. Tear into it, and you have the ultimate street food—garlic and herbs and tangy, oh my! The Greek salad is just as good, thick cut cucumbers and a fat plank of feta with good olives and plenty of red onions—salad power for the win! I can't say enough good things about the beef souvlaki (tender, medium rare beef when I tried it) and the "salacious eggplant spread," with roast eggplant and chopped sweet peppers. It is worth buying by the quart. The mezze platter of three spreads and a warm appetizer is a very nice option for vegetarians—the little spinach pie is adorable and light as a feather.
The Naughty Greek appetizer
The restaurant itself is teensy, but the white walls and minimalist design make it feel chic, not cheap. There's beer and good Greek wine if you want to make it a date, or you can get the various meats by-the-pound if you want to make some DIY souvlaki or gyros at home tonight.
Local gyros obsessives know that the gyro to beat in Minnesota is the weekend special house-made one at Gardens of Salonica—usually Fridays after 5 p.m. and Saturdays—which is made with a different meat every month, even duck. Who's got the better gyro, Naughty Greek or Gardens of Salonica? That's for you to decide, friends—and you're going to have some happy days getting to the bottom of that mystery.
181 N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 651-219-4438