We looked for great Greek food in Naples. We didn’t find it here.
Stars and Stripes August 4, 2023
Gyros, moussaka and spanakopita are mainstays of Greek cuisine, so naturally they are served at Magn’ A Grecia, a restaurant in the popular Vomero neighborhood of Naples, Italy.
Unfortunately, the Hellenic hits mostly missed the mark on a recent visit. Friendly and efficient service didn’t make up for food that generally lacked the quintessential flavor punch that characterizes Greek cooking.
For example, the tzatziki served with many dishes was bereft of the requisite cucumber and garlic. That omission made the sauce a poor accompaniment for other dishes.
A companion and I chose our starters and main dishes from a menu offering a range of traditional Greek dishes but few surprises.
It included the usual gyros, souvlaki and fried potatoes with oregano. But other favorites, among them lemon soup, roasted lamb with orzo or potatoes and the pasta casserole with beef and Bechamel known as pastitsio, were missing.
The menu is replete with appetizers but offers few main courses for vegetarians. Vegans, too, will find little from which to choose.
We started our meal with a generous portion of grilled halloumi cheese that arrived warm and was accompanied by a salad and tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese on the side.
Unfortunately, the small pieces of bread served alongside were like focaccia. I would have preferred pita.
An appetizer featuring zucchini, eggplant and chickpea fritters was bland, relying on the disappointing tzatziki for flavor. It was a recurrent theme in our meal.
One addition to the fritter appetizer, a black-eyed pea salad with red and yellow peppers, was a pleasant surprise.
My first choice for an entree was the spanakopita, but I was informed the savory pastry with feta cheese, spinach, garlic, onion and dill was not offered that day.
So I opted for the only other vegetarian main dish on the menu, a blend of feta cheese and eggs wrapped in phyllo pastry called tiropita.
It was tasteless, although the phyllo was golden and crispy. I ate only half of one pastry.
My companion chose another appetizer, vegetables stuffed with rice, for her main dish, although she would have preferred a vegetarian moussaka.
The dish traditionally is made with eggplant, potatoes, a meaty tomato sauce and Bechamel, but some vegetarian versions are made with lentils or other ingredients.
The stuffed vegetables included two pieces of zucchini, a single mushroom cap and a large tomato, each filled with a mixture that seemed as if it had been made from instant rice and topped with cheese.
Again, the dish lacked gusto and the rice was underdone, but the vegetables were cooked nicely.
The restaurant offers wine by the glass or carafe and a small selection of beer. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, ask the waiter for the dessert of the day selection. We didn’t try dessert during our meal.
On a recent Sunday evening, customer turnover was brisk and it didn’t appear diners had to wait for a table. But reservations are recommended for Friday and Saturday evenings.
Magn’ A Grecia’s name translates to “Great Greece.” Although the restaurant may scratch the itch for this type of food for some, it’s far from great.
Magn’ A Grecia
Address: Via Raffaele Morghen 141 bis, Naples, Italy
Hours: 8 p.m.-midnight, Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday. Reservations strongly recommended on Fridays and Saturdays.
Prices: 5-8 euros for most sides and appetizers; 8-20 euros for plates; 7.50-10 euros for desserts; and 3.50-20 euros for beer and wine.
Information: +39 081 1875 4386 (after 5 p.m.)