Move over, mouse

Photo By David Robert

This is a two-in-one spot: a wild and crazy pizza party place for kids and a surprisingly good Greek restaurant.

The interior is painted with bright, vibrant colors, and there’s enough seating for an entire soccer league. There are arcade games off in one corner, and the centerpiece is a giant, playpen-mouse-maze-gerbil-wheel thing perfect for children who enjoy behaving like rodents. However, there aren’t any teenagers dressed as stuffed critters, and the restaurant is pleasantly devoid of animatronic, woodland bands leading sing-alongs.

There’s also a small grown-up section of Playland: a (vaguely tropical) bar and a pool table. But the real attraction for adults is the nearly hidden Greek section of the menu, which has all your favorite Greek dishes, including the oft-craved gyro ($6.45). The gyro, like the sandwich and the taco, is a paragon of simplistic culinary perfection. It’s beef, lamb, onion and that delicious, addictive tzatziki sauce, wrapped in pita bread. The great gyros from Greko’s come with excellent fries, making for a real top-notch lunch.

We also tried the pizzas. Danielle ordered an 8-inch, “mini-me” gourmet veggie ($7.70), with spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, artichokes and garlic, on which she requested added pineapple for 50 cents. When the pizza arrived sans pineapple, our server apologized and took it back.

When he returned, her diminutive pizza was unrecognizable beneath the sweet fruit of what appeared to be an entire pineapple.

Ever the culinary adventurer, I went with one of the more unusual pizzas on the menu, the Niko’s special (same size and price as the gourmet veggie), which comes fully loaded with ham, onions, bacon, feta cheese and Greek olives. With so many funky, knockout flavors, you can imagine what it did to my breath. It was a bit much, especially coming after the perfect, relatively simple balance of flavors of the gyro.

The pizza was only slightly better than average, and it didn’t compare to the excellent Greek fare, including the baklava ($1.50) we had for dessert. But this is a great place for your next pizza party. (And, really, don’t we all love a good pizza party?)

The place has the added bonus of actually being tolerable for sourpusses who would rather drink beer and play pool than run around with mouths full of pepperoni. And the pizza, though not quite extraordinary, is certainly better than the cardboard-and-paste found at other kid-friendly pizzerias.

A new glass of grape

Jungle Vino, a new wine bar adjacent to Java Jungle—the downtown coffee joint—offers a healthy selection of wines by the glass and bottle. The bartenders can assist the selection process, offering suggestions based on simple criteria like "full-bodied, really spicy." To this eager-but-uneducated wine drinker, it’s hard to know how accurate the recommendations are, but the atmosphere is welcoming and tinged with a touch of the new. An intimate, conversation-oriented first date will thrive in this environment.