And expectations were a bit high. Rozalia is listed by TripAdvisor as #45 out of 694 eateries in Athens, plus this was our first Greek meal in Greece!
We arrived a bit early (around 11:30-12NN) so there weren’t a lot of customers1. And seeing as the weather was cool and nice (which is a nice alternative to the Philippine climate), we chose to eat outside, which became the norm throughout the trip.
I had planned my meals that day so I refrained from ordering the souvlakis and gyros, which I would be having in other places. I ended up with the Grilled Veal Burger. I wasn’t really sure how much I could eat given that the plane had just landed a few hours ago and jet lag was still in effect. I chose something (relatively) not-so-expensive just in case I threw up or something. I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with this dish and let me tell you why.
First, I expected a burger plate — you know, the bun, a patty, veggies, some fries. Instead, I got a plate of 2 well-sized patties with a serving of fries and rice. RICE, which was actually the second surprise! Anytime you go to Western countries, you expect bread as the main source of carbs for about 2 weeks. As Asians, that’s really something we need to get used to. But lo and behold… RICE2! Third3, I love that they give us about half a lemon with the dish! It’s ample seasoning (unlike the 1/8th dry lemons in the Philippines) plus you don’t get it all over your hands4.
The veal burger itself was seasoned really well. And I don’t just mean that in the salt-and-pepper-seasoned-really-well kind, but the herbs that they mix with the meat really makes the dish.
Cousin Jeff ordered the Chicken Fillet with Orange Sauce from the Chef’s Recommendations portion in the menu. Dish was cooked well, but I’ll be a bit honest in saying I’m not a big fan of this dish. I’ll be the first to admit my bias in saying the breast is probably my least favorite part of the chicken. It has the least fat and the least flavor. Second, the orange sauce was sweet, as to be expected. I hate sweet, especially on entrees. But Jeff is a fan of fruit + protein dishes and he loved this. Better if you take his word on this.
We decided to have Moussaka as well for our first meal. It is the national dish of Greece, after all. Moussaka is made with eggplant, some minced meat, tomato and bechamel sauce, layered in Filo paper. The Greek moussaka is actually like lasagna.
I have to confess (again) I was a bit hesitant to eat this dish. It has eggplant in it! And if you look at our archives, veggies aren’t really the food of choice with Food Porn Junkies. The only other time I’ve willingly eaten eggplant was in Bobby Chinn’s place. I have to tell you, moussaka is fantastic! Even with eggplants! You can’t really taste the bitterness with the other flavors coming in. It was a bit cold, but it was still surprisingly enjoyable. I had moussaka a few more times during the trip and Rozalia’s was probably the best one I had during the entire trip.
The restaurant even gave us free dessert, the ever-present Semolina Halva. We thought it was so cool then when the free dessert arrived. Nothing is really free in European states (and Mediterranean ones at that). But this seems to be a standard practice over there. We’ve were served these halvas during a good number of meals.