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Glenn J. Nashen discovers more than a good dinner at Casa Grecque in Chomedey

    I was looking for a tasty, family-friendly take-out dinner and Casa Grecque in Chomedey was my next pick. My family and I love plentiful Greek salads and tangy appetizers, particularly during long, cold Quebec winters when delicious, plump red tomatoes are not in abundance. What I found at this spacious, well-decorated restaurant in Chomedey at the corner of St. Martin Blvd. and Daniel-Johnson Blvd. was far more than I could have imagined.

    Nothing like a warm, friendly greeting

    From the moment I entered Casa Grecque, I was warmly greeted by the friendly and personable franchise owner Peter Chiotis who has operated this location since its opening some 17 years ago. The seeds of the business were planted by his father, a chef, who opened another nearby Casa Grecque location way back in 1985. Peter’s father, brother Spiro and cousin Theo own and operate the Lasalle location on Newman Blvd.

    What caught my attention as soon as I walked in was the large area where the tables and floor were covered with dozens of boxes of dry goods and food items. Did the kitchen storage room expand into the dining area? Was there a flood in the pantry? Peter brought me over and began to tell me his fascinating story.

    Charity can be fun and interesting.

    “It was bad enough that business was down to a crawl with dining shuttered and a curfew in place for over two months,” Peter recounted. “It’s hard to scrape by on take-out and delivery alone.”

    When Peter learned through a local City Councillor that many families in the area were hurting badly, unable to put enough food on the table for their families, Peter and his close friend Mister Johnny knew they just had to do something to help. Within days they put the word out to family and friends that they would collect provisions and household supplies for the neediest in the community. The councillor put together a list of individuals who would benefit most and Peter and Mister Johnny began recruiting volunteers. The restaurant transformed overnight into a Food Bank and since January volunteers have collected groceries and other supplies and packaged boxes that they distribute every Saturday.

    “Word spread and people started showing up with extra pantry food they purchased and donated money for us to purchase even more food. Companies began donating all kinds of goods and products. And our list of recipients grew too and now includes needy families from the West-Island, Laval and other areas across the region. We even brought food down to Cabot Square and started feeding the homeless,” Peter told me with great pride.

    I was quite impressed with Peter’s charitable efforts together with his friend Mister Johnny. Then he told me about the podcast the two produce on a regular basis, their Facebook Live episodes and other initiatives to bring smiles to strangers’ faces and spread goodwill to the wider community.

    “We do a show called ‘Dinner for Two’ on Facebook Live every Saturday afternoon at 5:00 PM and we are on doing The Show with Mister Johnny and the Icon Thursday nights at 9:00 PM. We do everyday entertainment, talk about life, and we like to spread joy and happiness,” Peter said.

    Mister Johnny told me, “We have been able to accomplish so much together, it’s incredible.” The dynamic duo has spread their charitable efforts far and wide. From helping to feed needy families to barbecuing for the homeless in Cabot Square.

    “We helped a young woman save her home,” Peter said proudly. “She was about to lose her house after her husband died. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she then got diagnosed with cancer. She couldn’t keep up with the demands. We learned about her story and decided to do a live episode and we raised over $100,000! We created a human connection regardless of background. We really did our best to help this woman and we were so proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

    With such exciting and positive discussions with Peter Chiotis and Mister Johnny I had ample information to fill several blog posts. But I met him on my mission to review his restaurant so let me return to the reason you’re reading this.

    Greek delight from the very first bite!

    The take-out boxes were plentiful and my car smelled amazing on the ride home. We are Greek dining fans as it offers something for each of our varying taste buds. I crave meat, my kids love vegetarian options, my wife adores fish and we all enjoy appetizers and salads. And as I mentioned from the outset, the thought of those plump, juicy bright red tomatoes alone was a huge draw.

    We ripped open the paper bags and spread the cardboard, compostable containers (my gang appreciates compostables) across the dinner table. We divided up the Greek salad, adorned with feta cheese, sweet onions and oh, those tomatoes! We scooped spoonfuls of garlicky Tzatziki and salty Taramasalata. The Spanakopita was nice and flakey and layered with healthy spinach and feta cheese while the Pikila plate was adorned with a selection of the best Greek appetizers along with tangy green olives, juicy smoked salmon atop onions and feta. We also got a Caesar salad. I cannot say enough about crispy lettuce and the taste of thick lemony dressing. This was a real nice kick-off to our Greek night out which was authentically accompanied by our evening soundtrack of Greek Dinner Music on Spotify.

    I so enjoyed my order of Fried Calamari which was so crispy and succulent which I dipped into the tangy seafood sauce. I didn’t share at all!

    The Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Filet of Sole were my wife and daughter’s choice. Both fish were well-seasoned and came with a side of rice, Greek seasoned potatoes and chef salad. These are the typical side dishes at Casa Grecque.

    My other daughter enjoyed her 3 Cheese Cannelloni which was a heaping helping stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. Needless to say this dish lasted for two meals.

    I was tempted by several dishes but opted for the Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Butterfly Shrimp. The meat was tender and juicy and was matched up with a peppery sauce. The shrimp was absolutely delightful – plump and moist with a light breading and a side dip of garlic butter. I made the right choice apparently, as Peter tells me this is his favourite dish too.

    My youngest ordered a Fish ‘n Chip kids meal that came with fries and tartar sauce. He was quite pleased with his selection.

    Between the side dishes and appetizers, there were so many Greek garlicky roasted potatoes. How do they get them so juicy? “I can’t share this secret,” Peter advised. I went overboard on these delicious side orders. 

    We could barely finish these wonderful dishes which meant terrific leftovers for lunch the next day. But dessert was beckoning so we had to sample the ample portion of Baklava and the honey glazed Loukoumades. What a thoroughly enjoyable Greek delight. My wife loves Tiramisu and was very happy not to share her portion. I selflessly helped my son with his massive slice of delicious cheesecake which he totally adored. Stuffed and smiling we had no choice but to wait another day for the Apple and Caramel Pie. It was so worth the wait! 

    There’s pretty much something for everyone on their menu so you cannot go wrong. The food came out quickly and came out piping hot so that you’re serving up a wonderful family meal at home a short time later.

    I later learned from Peter that the Chicken Brochette is the Number One selection at Casa Grecque. I’ll look forward to trying that dish next time.

    All in the family

    How did Peter come up with his winning formula? Well, it started with his dad, of course. “From a young age I loved this business,” Peter disclosed. “Our dad was a chef so we learned everything from him in the kitchen. My brothers and I learned to do it all!”

    This was our first time ordering from Casa Grecque and I look forward to meeting Peter Chiotis for in-person dining (and bring your own wine) in his sprawling, swanky locale that would be a great venue for a party or business meeting. In the meantime, we’ll settle for Take-Out and Delivery.

    For now, the restaurant is open weekdays from 4:00 to 9:00 PM and weekends from 2:00-9:00 PM. You can place your order by phone at 450-681-4999 or you can use DoorDash, UberEats, or SkipTheDishes. Here’s the menu which changes every few months. If you’re picking up don’t forget to bring a non-perishable item for their charitable initiative.

    And I just can’t stop singing their jingle that I’ve heard on the radio and seen on TV commercials since my teenage years.  Enjoy and tell them Glenn sent you.

    Glenn J. Nashen

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