Whenever I go see my hairdresser, Tess, it’s a relaxing Saturday morning filled with hot coffee, family talk, trashy magazines (reading about the marital travails of Randy Jackson and the morning sickness of Kate Middleton somehow helps me shed the stress of the work week) and lots of gossip. And sometimes, given what I do for a living, restaurant recommendations.
The last time I was in, Tess raved about a new place in Westbrook, just over the line from Portland, in the spot formerly occupied by the popular breakfast/brunch spot Wake n’ Bakery. If you can’t trust your hairdresser, who can you trust? So I decided to check it out.
Kozeta’s calls itself a “Breakfast & Pizzeria,” and if that sounds all over the place, you’d be right. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in addition to a long list of specialty pizzas and pasta dishes, they serve hot and cold subs, wraps, salads, quesadillas and a few Greek specialties. Usually I’d be wary of a place that tries to be everything to everyone, but after visiting it a couple of times, Kozeta’s will be on my list of places for an inexpensive but well-made lunch or quick dinner.
Most recently, I ordered the chicken gyro ($7), along with one of the appetizers, a plate of spanakopita. The overstuffed gyro came wrapped like an ice cream cone in foil so all the ingredients would hold together, and I have to admit it was one of the better ones I’ve had in Portland. The pita bread was incredibly fresh, the chicken well-seasoned, and the lettuce, tomato and onions all tasted like they’d just been harvested. The tzatziki sauce (homemade, I found out later) was cool and mild, and whoever made the sandwich was very generous with it, which only enhanced the overall experience – there was plenty of sauce for every mouthful.
The spanakopita ($6.50) comes in five pieces. I expected them to be five little pieces, but each one was the size of a small turnover. An order of this would easily make a meal for someone (or you can do like I did and put the leftovers in the fridge for later). These triangle-shaped phyllo pastries were perfection. They contained just enough feta to hold the spinach together so that the flavors complemented each other instead of fighting each other. The spanakopita comes with a marinara sauce that I thought had too much oregano – but at least it appeared to be homemade as well.
I was also pleasantly surprised that my take-out spanakopita was still steaming hot by the time I got it home – still flaky and crispy on the outside, still moist and delicious inside.
At the restaurant, I happened to fall into a conversation with one of the owners, who told me that almost everything they serve is homemade, down to the pizza dough and sauce. She asked me if I had tried their pizza yet, which she said her husband tries to make “great” because there are so many other choices for pizza in town.
Why yes, indeed, on my first visit I ordered a Greek pizza, one of my favorites, to share with a friend. It’s made with a garlic sauce and the usual spinach, tomatoes, feta and Greek olive. It was very good, but I’m on the fence about where it falls in comparison to the Greek pizza at Stavros Pizzeria & Deli on Forest Avenue, which until now was my favorite. It’s a toss-up.
The restaurant’s specialty pizzas range from $7.50 to $9.95 for a 10-inch and $13 to $17.95 for a 16-inch pie. In addition to the more common combinations of toppings, Kozeta’s has a ranch pizza, a bleu cheese pizza (blue cheese sauce, cheese, spinach, onion and bacon) and a breakfast pizza.
Hot subs all cost in the $5.50 to $7 range. Pasta dishes include a homemade carbonara for $7.50 and spaghetti with meatballs for $7.
The restaurant is filled with booths, but both times I visited it was around 7 p.m. and most of them were empty. The couple who own the place, however, were furiously preparing takeout orders in the kitchen – many of them pizza. If you want takeout, better to call first because the wait can be a little long since everything is made on the premises.
WHERE: 597 Bridgton Road, Westbrook; (207) 797-7344; facebook.com/pages/Kozetas-Restaurant
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WAIT: 10-15 minutes
OUTDOOR SEATING: No.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE? Yes.