When Acropolis Greek Taverna opened a dozen or so years ago in the Oak Ramble Plaza on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. (just south of Tampa Palms), it became an instant hit, with its great Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and entertainment every weekend.
Neighborhood News readers and yours truly both kept Acropolis at or near the top of our respective annual surveys for “Favorite Restaurant in New Tampa,” as there were few, if any, other places in or near zip code 33647 for authentic Mediterranean food or the great vibe you felt every time you visited Acropolis.
The last few years, however, several other less expensive Mediterranean restaurants began opening in New Tampa, and while some of that competition has since closed, Acropolis had started dropping both with our readers and with a certain hungry editor.
A Fresh Approach
But, on April 1 of this year, new owners Stacy Esposito and her husband Adib (Eddie) Nasr took over the New Tampa location of what is now a five-restaurant mini-chain (with other locations in South Tampa, Ybor City, Riverview and St. Pete) and have brought new energy to what was already a great concept.
Together with new general manager (but long-time employee and manager) Jason Stiger, the New Tampa Acropolis is definitely waking up taste buds once again in our area.
Eddie, who is Lebanese, has upgraded this location’s fried kibbe appetizer and a couple of other dishes with his mother’s recipes, but he and Stacy also have improved other dishes simply by selecting the finest produce and quality meats available — and it shows.
My two favorite dishes at Acropolis always have been (and still are) the Frenched rack of lamb lollipops, which are all-natural, antibiotic-free and no added hormones) and the Athenian fish, which is a lightly breaded and seasoned filet of whatever fresh fish is available each day and topped with a dollop of a unique fresh pesto sauce. The lamb chops are served over lemony Greek-style potatoes and the fish is served with fresh roasted seasonal veggies over Greek-style orzo rice. Both of my favorite dishes are even better now than they were when Acropolis first opened.
Another long-time favorite on the menu is the yummy saganaki cheese appetizer, which is set on fire and served with perfect pita triangles.
We also loved the authentic spanakopita (spinach pie) appetizer, the calamari and photographer Charmaine George gave thumbs up to the shrimp appetizer in a creamy lemon sauce, topped with cheese and served with toast points. Those seeking more adventurous, authentic tastes should try the grilled octopus, Ouzo mussels, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), tirosalata (a creamy blend of feta cheese and garlic topped with oregano and extra virgin olive oil), avgolemono (lemon) or lentil soups, hummus or baba ghanouj.
Among the other great dishes to try are the gyro trio (traditional lamb, pork and chicken, served on pita and with crispy fries), the authentic “Yia Yia’s Recipe) mousaka (Greek-style lasagne, but with potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, ground beef and creamy bechamel sauce with tomato sauce and feta cheese), the whole grilled red snapper, or the pork, chicken, beef or kefta (ground beef) kabobs. Mine and Jannah’s newest favorite is the chicken Rhodes — two grilled breasts in a garlic parmesan wine sauce sautéed with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and olives, topped with crumbled feta. It’s a true taste sensation!
Do not skip dessert at Acropolis, either. Stacy and Eddie are rightfully proud of the decadent chocolate “bombe” (filled with white and milk chocolate mousses), the outstanding baklava (topped with Haagen Dazs ice cream), baklava cheesecake and the addictive pineapple upside down cake that also is set on fire to give it a creme brulée-style outer crust. OMG!
And yes, Acropolis still has weekend entertainment like George, the buzuki player, the incredibly talented and lovely belly dancer Gypsi and Stacy promises that the dancing servers and plate-breaking will be coming back soon. Stacy and Eddie also are proud of the recently revamped outdoor patio, which offers a variety of your favorite hookah water pipe flavors. And, both indoor and outdoor bars offer the finest in Greek beers and wines, plus premium alcohol and so much more! Can you say “Opa?”
Acropolis Greek Taverna is located at 14947 BBD Blvd. and is open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight) and 11 a.m.-1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit DineGreek.com or call (813) 971-1787.