Review: Nikolini Cafe

If you really need to be fawned over while you dine, you’ll be happier getting your Greek fix elsewhere. But unconventionality is part of Nikolini’s charm.

It’s hard to keep up with Olina and Gino Nikolini. Originally, the clothiers/restaurateurs opened on Hall Street. Then, briefly, they operated at
Preston and Royal. Today, they’re back in Uptown, on McKinney Avenue, serving their organic Greek cuisine, under the same roof as their funky clothing boutique.
Sure, the whole scene is a little weird. Service, as always, is sporadic, because Gino’s alone in the kitchen, and we’ve spotted only one server besides Olina herself. But good food is hard to find. And by “good,” I mean good for you. (Several menu items are certified heart-healthy by Medical City Dallas, and many dishes are low-fat or nonfat.)

Recently I dined with a trio of friends, one of whom had a challenging list of restrictions: no sugar, no corn, no wheat. To which chef Gino replied, “No problem.” He warmed up some gluten-free pita so she could enjoy the hummus, and Olina suggested her vegetarian moussaka (no lamb with that eggplant), made without dairy. The moist moussaka, my friend declared, was better than any she’d had during her travels in Greece. And simple steamed sides of radikia, a bitter green dressed with olive oil and lemon, and organic beets dusted with Greek seasonings, were equally satisfying.

The rest of us feasted on tiny dolmas stuffed with organic brown rice; thick and creamy tzatziki made with homemade organic yogurt and spiked with lots of fresh dill; plump and juicy lamb souvlaki; and a slice of galactoboureko, layers of milky custard and phyllo, drizzled with honey. If you really need to be fawned over while you dine, you’ll be happier driving up to the back door and grabbing your Greek goods to go. But some could argue that the unconventionality is part of Nikolini’s charm.

Get contact information for Nikolini Cafe.

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