Souvlaki Wars: Part 2 - Towne Restaurant
blog by BuffaloDotCom • February 16, 2011 @ 4:25pm
The war wages on—the Souvlaki War, that is. Ben T. and I ventured to Allentown where we decided to dine at Towne Restaurant at the corner of Elmwood and Allen. What began as another notch on our souvlaki-stuffed beltline ended in quite the Greek eats history lesson.
After chowing down on souvlaki (beef for Ben, chicken for me), we chatted with Dino Scouras, owner of the restaurant. Dino’s family has owned Towne for three generations now. The place opened as a hotdog hut / American diner back in 1972. His Greek ancestors decided to introduce Greek items in the years following, adding souvlaki to the menu in 1976. Dino credits his family with introducing the souvlaki salad to Buffalo, even going so far as to say they invented the open-face version of the dish after one frustrated customer failed to cleanly eat the salad in sandwich form.
Towne patrons were eating chicken souvlaki salads as we know them “at least five years before anyone else caught on,” Dino explained proudly. And if you don’t buy this claim, take into consideration for a moment that many—if not most—of Western New York’s Greek restaurant owners once worked at Towne (including Pano of Pano’s, and Al and Milton of Alton’s, among others) before opening their own establishments.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, on to describing the dish in question. Towne’s souvlaki is remarkably similar to souvlaki offered at our first souvlaki stop, Acropolis. Both had marinated meats (chicken and beef respectively) topping salads that included mixes of lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, a few olives and a single peperoncini with pita on the side. The meat at Towne featured a mild marinade, and the chicken was particularly juicy. The pita was served in larger half-circles more conducive to stuffing than smaller strips or chips. The salad was missing two components that I’ve grown to love – tzatziki sauce and cucumber. Both give the otherwise savory dish a cool and refreshing side.
Although Towne didn’t boast the extras you might find at some other Greek eatery in the area, it gets a load of bonus points for its rich souvlaki history here in Western New York.