[This is the latest installment of “Cobb Cuisine, Culture and Community” by Brian Benefield]
I got the pleasure of hanging out in the kitchen with my friend and longtime restauranteur Christos Giannes, owner of Kouzina Christos, at his new location. We discussed how food brings families together and how he has met lifelong friends in the industry, which evolves into a community. Giannes’ first eatery opened its doors in 1979 on Terrill Mill Rd in Cobb county and has moved three additional times for over forty years. That kind of perseverance is unheard of in this business, and I truly commend him for his work ethic and dedication to serving his neighbors.
His new location has a smaller, more intimate feel with comfy booths and TVs to catch a game while you indulge in some of their mouthwatering cuisine.
The restaurant is located in Market Place Plaza at 1255 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, GA 30068.
Christos told me, “the first nuance is food, and then it becomes friendship, and then it becomes a community.” When he was growing up, his parents had a restaurant in Moosup, Connecticut. To my surprise, he said he very much disliked the business as a young lad, and his father made him sweep and mop the floors before school each day. I can understand his disdain for that reason.
Since 2002 I have been a frequent guest at his various locations and have always been more than pleased with the food. We both agree that if you use quality ingredients, then you get a great product. “Good food doesn’t have to be complicated,” Christos said. My mom wanted pizza when I visited her recently, and I know she absolutely loves his pizza. I got to his establishment a bit before they opened and met him in the kitchen. Busily wrapping the Boars Head meats, he handed me a slice of mortadella, or what I like to call meat heaven. We sat for a quick interview and then returned to the kitchen to prepare my Mother’s pizza. I’ve always wondered what makes their pizza dough so light and airy. He told me they use high-gluten flour that gives the dough elasticity and produces the perfect thickness and crispy crust. It’s like pizza and biscuit dough had a baby, and the world is a much better place because of that.
The gyros, oh the gyros, are what people come back to Kouzina Christos for again and again. If I were ever in a situation where I had to choose my last meal on earth, it would be a gyro from Christos. The lamb meat is custom-made to his specifications and is so moist, succulent, and definitely crave-worthy. House-made Tzatziki sauce with the perfect blend of cool, creamy, and a hint of citrus flavors, fresh tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and unholy amounts of feta cheese, all wrapped in freshly made pita bread. It’s that damn good.
My wife loves the greek salad topped with fresh salmon. Now, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill salad by any means, and just the regular size could feed a small army battalion. Regardless of the time of year, the enormous slices of tomato are always bright red and full of savory goodness. Copious amounts of creamy feta cheese contrast beautifully with the salty kalamata olives and cool cucumbers. Topped with a perfectly cooked medium-temperature salmon filet that is buttery soft and melts in your mouth. Smoked pork and lamb are offered as specials periodically, and you will never leave hungry when dining here.
Several servers have been working there for over twenty years, which is a massive testament to the customer following and how well he treats his employees. He and I are both not big fans of review sites like Yelp that let the keyboard warriors run rampant if they had a bad experience. Instead, address the issue while you’re at the restaurant and chat with someone to get the problem resolved before you leave. He is quite a gregarious fellow that has a behemothic zest for life. I feel privileged to know Christos and call him a friend. Giannes says times are tough for an independent owner like himself and hopes that more people will continue to support the Mom and Pop places that create quality food, which evolves into friendships that fabricate into a community.
For more information visit the website at www.kouzinachristos.com