As delicious as Greek food sounds, I must admit that I've never been to a Greek place that truly blew me away and made me eager to come back. I was hoping that Hellenic newcomer Opa on Sansom Street would buck this trend. Despite everything being pretty decent, I'm afraid the food ended up not being anything worth smashing plates about.
The interior of the place, situated right off the now-bustling 13th Street corridor, is neat and contemporary: a blue-painted ceiling with exposed ductwork, one wall covered in a decorative metal structure in the shape of hundreds of circles, and a modern bar in the middle. From this bar came the Portokali, a cocktail of vodka, blood orange and ouzo. Though the anisey flavor of the ouzo came through, it didn't dominate, and the cocktail had a nice balance, even if it could have been served a bit more chilled.
The menu is broken down into mezedes (smaller plates) and entrees. We decided to make a meal out of four of the mezedes. First to arrive was the Horiatiki, basically a Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives and feta. The feta was the highlight – very creamy and not too crumbly or salty. The rest of the salad was fine, but a fairly deep puddle in the bottom of the dish told me it was way overdressed. Unfortunately much of the surplus dressing made it onto our plates, where it remained, since we didn't get our plates changed out following this drippy course (really the only misstep of the otherwise very nice service).
In contrast, the grilled octopus suffered from the opposite problem in my opinion: too dry. Though served with a "chickpea fondue" (really stewed chickpeas in tomato, studded with coriander seeds and other spices), the octopus itself just didn't have enough moisture to be truly enjoyable. The charred flavor was nice, but a drizzle of olive oil and/or a squeeze of lemon would have really made it more pleasurable to eat.
The "Spread Pikilia" was a trio of three dips: hummus, tzatziki, and tirokafteri, served with pita triangles, olives, and oddly enough, spears of raw zucchini for dipping. The very thick hummus was initially interesting thanks to the addition of some smoked paprika to the dip, but it quickly grew somewhat boring to eat. The tzatziki was fine, with a nice dill flavor, but I think the standout was the tirokafteri. Made with feta cheese, this thinner dip came on strong with a pronounced sharp, salty flavor, then revealed some red peppery sweetness and hot-pepper spiciness as it lingered in the mouth. I found this to be the most interesting thing we ate at Opa.
Lastly, three mini-gyros, presented wrapped in paper. The only thing to note about these is that the meat is grilled lamb and not the usual shaved-log-of-ground-meats.
We didn't have time for dessert, which is just as well because they were already out of baklava at around 7:15 on a Saturday night.
Though I'm not really eager to go back to Opa for dinner, it might be an interesting place to have a drink and a few bites. There were some other attractive cocktails on the menu, and their list of almost exclusively Greek wines, including the pine-scented Retsina, would make for unique drinking. Though it's not Greek, I'd have to say if you're looking for cuisine from that general part of the world, you'd be better off a few blocks southeast at Kanella, where a bit more passion comes through in the cooking.