By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
One night, seeking a light meal, I idled up to the bar and ordered a souvlaki sandwich. The restaurant's souvlaki is as good as any I've tasted in Athens, where street vendors sell the sandwiches on every corner. At Taverna Opa the grilled skewers of chicken or pork arrive on a bed of crisp, warm Greek flatbread dotted with fresh tomato chunks, shredded lettuce, and tzatziki -- the Greek sauce of yogurt, garlic and cucumber. Fragrant with plenty of oregano, the meat is lightly charred on the outside, plump and moist on the inside. It goes down perfectly with an ice-cold beer.
Taverna Opa's entrees are enticing though less reliable than the meze. According to the list of specials one night, a brochette of grilled seafood was supposed to include swordfish, shrimp, and scallops. The brochette arrived with two thick hunks of swordfish, an enormous shrimp, and blackened cubes of peppers and onions but no scallop. Still, the fish and shrimp were delicious and perfectly cooked, and the brochette was accompanied by spicy Greek rice with tomatoes and leeks. Another special, the roast leg of lamb, was a thick slab of fragrant, moist lamb, but it was lukewarm. Wonderfully seasoned roasted potato wedges accompanied the lamb.
Taverna Opa has a relatively large wine list for a casual Greek restaurant. Greek wine is fun, easy-drinking wine, and at the restaurant it's served in short cocktail tumblers for easier toasting. The restaurant has a selection of a dozen or so inexpensive Greek wines, mostly whites. I tried the Lac des Roches, a tart, crisp white wine, and the Roditas, an easy, fruity rose.
With so much great food, it's hard to make room for dessert, although it may be worth trying. Taverna Opa's baklava is crumbly but moist and absolutely addictive. Even better is the galaktoboureko, a thick custard pie with phyllo and honey.
Taverna Opa is a welcome excursion into authenticity for Hollywood Beach. After three months it is already drawing crowds that seem likely to forgive a missing scallop here and a lukewarm piece of meat there. Those little kinks are nothing a few shots of ouzo won't make you forget.
Taverna Opa. 410 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood, 954-929-4010. Open for dinner nightly from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Country lamb sausage
Souvlaki with pita
Roast leg of lamb