Zorba’s is something of a legend in the Richmond culinary community. Having opened it’s doors in 1994, it has earned a reputation as to go to Greek restaurant, both for it’s filling food and splendid service, no surprise given it’s a signature of Hellenic dining. I never had a chance to go see the foodie landmark for myself, and given a massive kitchen fire last year had the doors shuttered for the better part of a year, odds were good I might never get to. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I was passing through and saw that Zorba’s was open and back in business. After much insistence from some Greek and Russian friends, and never one to turn down a good gyro, with some time for lunch on my hands I decided to see if Zorba’s lives up to it’s reputation.
The outside looks much as it has for the last decade and a half, aside from having it’s doors open and windows not boarded up for the first time in a year. Though the outside may not look like much, as they saying goes, it’s the inside that counts, and there, it is clear that they have had some major renovations done. The inside is very lavish, with dark oak paneled booths with comfy seats high enough for a private meal, and a fully stocked bar that would not look out of place in a swanky nightclub. The atmosphere is fancy enough to impress, yet not enough to deter you for a casual lunch by yourself or with friends, so kudos to Zorba’s for making efforts to rebuild greatly.
Of course, the hallmark of any great Greek restaurant is it’s friendly service, and here Zorba’s does not disappoint. The owner, a Turk named Mehmet surprisingly, makes an effort to great to great every customer at the door, and on the way out, ask if everything was beyond their satisfaction. The waitress was very attentive and polite, and made some excellent recommendations for the order, always a plus, and made sure I had everything I needed. As a whole, from what I’ve noticed, the other servers are no exception, making the service here exceptionally good, greatly complementing the warm atmosphere.
I think I am most impressed with the food however, which should say a great deal given my love of a good gyro. While plenty of restaurants give bread prior to the meal, Zorba’s is one of the rare kinds that makes it fresh on site, and serves it straight from the oven, and is very tasty. The meal I ordered was a lamb gyro with pasta salad and moth were exceptional and generously portioned. The gyro was filled to the brim was well cooked lamb meat, crisp and fresh onion and tomato, and generous amounts of tzatziki sauce, and is easily the best gyro I’ve ever had, no small feat. The pasta salad was very good as well, with chucks of tuna thrown in, yet not to the point of overpowering the dish. My sole complaint is the price, which contrary to the rumors of the restaurant’s affordability, are quite steep. Still given they have a new restaurant to pay for, and the quality of the food, the prices are understandable, though I do hope they lower them at some point.
Overall, I know understand why Zorba’s has the reputation. The look and atmosphere of the place is classy enough to bring a date or go to on a night out, yet not enough to stop in for a lunch break. The service is very warm, friendly and very attentive, which is must for any good Greek or Italian restaurant, as is good food, and Zorba’s has some of the best I’ve had. While the prices will keep me from coming religiously, for now at least, I have little doubt that I will be back, and urge you to try this Richmond legend for yourself.