First Look: The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros opens Dec. 1 in Brookhaven

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros will offer food such as Vegan Pizza (upper left), Gyro Platter (lower left), Supreme Vegetarian Specialty Pie (lower center), Meat Lovers Specialty Pie (right), Sampler Platter (upper right), and sides of pita (lower right) and a Greek salad (upper center). (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros will offer food such as Vegan Pizza (upper left), Gyro Platter (lower left), Supreme Vegetarian Specialty Pie (lower center), Meat Lovers Specialty Pie (right), Sampler Platter (upper right), and sides of pita (lower right) and a Greek salad (upper center). (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros is set to open on Dec. 1 at the Skyland Shopping Center on Clairmont Road in Brookhaven. It’s the newest concept from longtime Atlanta restaurateur Johnny Gianoulidis, who also owns Park Grounds, a coffee shop in Reynoldstown, and Kafenio, a Greek diner in Avondale Estates.

In many ways, The Greek Pizzeria is a tribute to the Gianoulidis family roots, and the immigrant experience, which took his parents from Athens to New England, and later Atlanta.

“My mother and father were refugees,” Gianoulidis said one afternoon, sitting at a table at The Greek. “They settled in Massachusetts, worked and saved up their money, and found a small town in Connecticut to open a pizza place. It was called Johnny’s Pizza, and it opened in 1971.

“So I was 6 years old when it opened, and I literally grew up in the pizza place. That was the thing with Greeks in New England. They either opened up a diner or a pizza joint. But then they moved down here, because my aunt and uncle had Athens Pizza. My family opened a place called Christos Pizza in east Cobb. And my brother still has Kouzina Christos on Johnson Ferry.”

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Paul Masci (left) and Johnny Gianoulidis (right) are owners of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Paul Masci (left) and Johnny Gianoulidis (right) are owners of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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Paul Masci (left) and Johnny Gianoulidis (right) are owners of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Gianoulidis calls The Greek a pizza joint. The look is rather retro modern, with cushy-cozy orange booths a la Howard Johnson’s, and a graffiti-cool mural that depicts Greek mythology with renderings of Zeus and Pegasus and Athena and her owl.

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The interior of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros in Brookhaven has a retro modern look. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The interior of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros in Brookhaven has a retro modern look. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The interior of The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros in Brookhaven has a retro modern look. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“The pizza joint was what I was informed by,” he said. “I wanted something vibrant, and fun, but not artificial. Too many times now, I see restaurants nowadays doing vibrant but they turn it into a Chuck E. Cheese. We use the owl as a symbol of wisdom and guidance. It’s one of the symbols of Athens. For me, Pegasus means freedom and movement.”

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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Supreme Vegetarian Specialty Pie with spinach, mushroom, red onion, bell pepper, black olives, fresh tomato. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Supreme Vegetarian Specialty Pie with spinach, mushroom, red onion, bell pepper, black olives, fresh tomato. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Supreme Vegetarian Specialty Pie with spinach, mushroom, red onion, bell pepper, black olives, fresh tomato. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

While Gianoulidis originally wanted to offer what he calls “pizza joint table service,” the current shortage of service workers pushed him to open with modified counter service and food runners. “It is what it is and I’m going to play the ball where it lays,” he said.

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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros lives up to the other part of its name with dishes such as the Classic Gyro Platter with sliced meat, tzatziki, feta spread, and pita. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros lives up to the other part of its name with dishes such as the Classic Gyro Platter with sliced meat, tzatziki, feta spread, and pita. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros lives up to the other part of its name with dishes such as the Classic Gyro Platter with sliced meat, tzatziki, feta spread, and pita. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

Still, the two-sided menu is fairly extensive, with a half-dozen starters, several salads, gyro wraps and platters, sides and sweets. Pizza and calzones can be made with a huge choice of build your own toppings, and there are 10 different specialty pies. There also are vegan and gluten-free options.

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At The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros, the Meat Lovers Specialty Pie comes with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, hamburger, and extra cheese. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

At The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros, the Meat Lovers Specialty Pie comes with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, hamburger, and extra cheese. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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At The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros, the Meat Lovers Specialty Pie comes with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, hamburger, and extra cheese. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

To the question of what makes Greek pizza Greek pizza, Gianoulidis paused and thought for a moment.

“It’s made in a classic pizza pan with a lip, and you form a crust in the oiled pan, which makes it crisper, and a little breadier,” he said. “And I think the consistency over time is better. I don’t like the kind of pizza that if you don’t eat it in 30 seconds, it’s just not that good.

“Typically, our sauce is spiced a bit more, and historically we just used white cheddar. When white cheddar melts, it puts off butter fat rather than oil. Mozzarella is very oily and it doesn’t have much taste. The white cheddar has a bite to it. So I’m mixing mozzarella and white cheddar to get a bit of the best of both worlds.”

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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Greek Salad with added falafel. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Greek Salad with added falafel. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Greek Salad with added falafel. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

The beverage program will feature classic and craft beers, including the likes of Guinness and Mythos, as well as Georgia favorites such as Creature Comforts Tropicalia and SweetWater 420. There will be three wines on draft, with a red, a white and a sparking.

In addition, there’s espresso service with Jittery Joe’s coffee, along with pastries. And on the horizon, Gianoulidis will be creating some seasonal dessert pizzas.

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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Spanakopita with spinach, feta, phyllo pies, and side of tzatziki. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Spanakopita with spinach, feta, phyllo pies, and side of tzatziki. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Spanakopita with spinach, feta, phyllo pies, and side of tzatziki. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

“I’m here every day. I eat here. So I’m going to source food items that are clean, and that are good,” Gianoulidis said. “It’s not gourmet, but it’s going to be something that I’m happy to sit down and eat. If I’m not, I’m certainly not going to serve it.

“I’m not doing this because, oh, my God, I need the money. I’m doing this because I enjoy this business. I love this business.”

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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Sampler Platter with dolmades, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, tzatziki, hummus, and pita wedges. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Sampler Platter with dolmades, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, tzatziki, hummus, and pita wedges. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The Greek Pizzeria and Gyros Sampler Platter with dolmades, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, tzatziki, hummus, and pita wedges. (Mia Yakel for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Mia Yakel

Credit: Mia Yakel

DINING OUT

11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

3400 Clairmont Road, Suite A, Brookhaven. 404-996-6037, thegreekpizzeria.com.

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