Mediterranean restaurants in general are generally well represented in the Bay Area and of course there are lots of Italian restaurants but one cuisine that is under-represented, at least in the East Bay, is Greek food.
Opa! apparently intends to change all this. Initially established in Willow Glen, and with locations in Los Gatos and Los Altos, Opa now has a fourth restaurant in Walnut Creek located in the old Café Delle Stelle premises, right next door to Prima Trattoria. This is effectively a brand new restaurant. It was taken right back to the studs and is now one of the most attractive eating places in the area. Stone walls inside and out, a central bar, attractive wood floors, floor to ceiling windows that open to the outside and more. It seems that no expense had been spared to make the place as appealing as possible.
Sylvia and I had been watching this transformation take place over many weeks , so we were looking forward to checking it out and we visited just a few days after the opening, when our first impression was how very popular it was already. It was virtually full at only 6.45pm on a Tuesday evening and people were soon waiting for tables.
We were quickly seated and perused the menus while sipping on the chardonnay we brought with us (I had no idea how good the wine-list was likely to be and I really do not like Greek wine!).
The menu is extensive. Every well-known Greek dish appears to be there plus some not so well-known ones. There is also a wide range of appetizers and salads, Pita sandwiches, Pita pizzas and burgers. Prices compare very favorably with other restaurants in the area.
Sylvia and I were eager to see how authentic the main dishes were. Sylvia’s choice was the Fiery Feta Flank Steak, a grilled flat-iron steak served on a hot sizzling cast-iron skillet with feta cheese crumbled on top. This came with a side of Opa! signature fries although orzo or horta are alternative sides.
I had the Beef Souvlaki, two skewers of chunks of filet mignon, peppers, onions and zucchini that had been grilled to perfection and I also chose the Opa! Fries.
Sylvia’s steak and my souvlaki were delicious and portion sizes were extremely generous, so much so that neither of us could face a dessert. A pity really, as the dessert menu looks interesting and authentic with choices including baklava, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts and bougatsa, which is a combination of sauteed apples with ricotta and cream cheese, seasoned with cinnamon and baked in a phyllo crust. Maybe next time.
The one criticism we had was that the noise level was somewhat excessive. I don’t mean from our fellow diners – we both like to eat in lively restaurants where people are obviously having a good time. No, this was down to the background music, which was definitely NOT in the background. It was literally impossible to have a conversation without shouting and we were not the only ones there who found it a problem. Still, maybe they will get that sorted out. As I said, it had only been open a few days at the time of our visit.
Other than that, we were very favorably impressed. The food was tasty, the service was first-class and the décor is terrific! And they don’t even charge corkage if you want to take a bottle of your own wine. How many restaurants have that attitude?
Note that they don’t take reservations as such, although you can phone up to an hour ahead and they will put you on the wait-list. This is what we did and I strongly recommend it. This is a popular restaurant!
Check out their menus and read much more about Opa! on their website at www.opawilllowglen.com.