Kosta’s: Mediterranean cuisine at its best

The building is adorned with a wide green and white awning across the front. In case you miss that, bright red and green neon lights wrap around the roofline. But don’t miss it. Some friends and I dined there one recent Saturday night and were glad we did.

Kosta’s Mediterranean Cuisine has been operating in the same location since 1996, but the decor is fresh and contemporary. The modern palette of neutral colors and simple, stylized art leads to dining room lined with booths.

You can see through a bricked archway into the kitchen from almost every table. There is something reassuring about such an open view. You can watch Kosta, the chef and owner, working with a busy crew.

The restaurant filled up as we enjoyed our meal. Even with a couple of large groups, service stayed consistent. In fact, one of my friends remarked that the rhythm of our dinner service was really nice, “just the right amount of time between appetizer, salad and entre.”

Our quiet and friendly server checked back often and tended to all our requests.

The extensive menu is a combination of traditional Greek and Italian dishes, exactly what you would expect with Mediterranean cuisine. But, with sauces and even the pasta being made in-house, the dishes we tried were notches above the routine.

We started with an appetizer of spanakopita and tryopita ($10.95 for four pieces). Both were warm, with layers of flakey filo dough that crumbled when you bit into them. The spanakopita was filled with feta cheese and spinach, the tryopita, with cheese only. Heavenly.

We were lucky enough to be next to a table that ordered the saganaki appetizer. This pan-fried Greek cheese is flamed right at the table, creating a dramatic burst of fire.

One of my friends ordered the cannelloni ($14.95), two tubes of past filled with seasoned ground beef and covered with mozzarella and house-made meat sauce, then baked. She ate every bite.

A salad or soup is included with the baked options and for $2.50 extra you can order a Caesar or Greek salad. She chose the Greek salad, which was made with iceberg lettuce, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and a pepperoncini, and dressed with a homemade Greek dressing.

I sampled one of my husband’s dolmades ($16.95). This dish of Greek spiced meat rolled in grape leaves was lightly covered with tzatziki sauce. Four dolmades come with a choice of rice, potato or pasta. Tom chose pasta, and was served a garlic-flavored spaghetti with myzithra cheese. The tart tzatziki and the rich cheese worked well together.

His meal also came with soup, salad or Greek salad; he chose the house-made minestrone.

I enjoyed a traditional veal parmigiana ($16.95) meal. My perfect veal was served over spaghetti with a chunky marinara sauce. It was delicious and enough for a meal the next day.

We ordered some takeout for stay-at-home friends: Greek moussaka ($16.95), which is a dish of layered, sliced eggplant, potatoes and mildly spiced ground beef, all covered in a bechamel sauce and baked. Warm, creamy comfort food, Greek style.

We also ordered a traditional spaghetti ($14.95)with ricotta cheese and meatballs, which was just as comforting.

We share a dessert, tiramisu cake ($6.95.) A few bites of the creamy, sweet, coffee flavored cake hit the spot. By the end of the evening, we had enjoyed the flavors of both the Greek and Italian offerings and unanimously declared them all very good.

Not long after we were finished eating and the dinner rush slowed, Chef Kosta appeared in the dining room. He made his way to several tables, welcomed us and asked if we enjoyed our meals. It was a nice way to end an enjoyable experience.

Kostas Mediterranean Cuisine

8309 Mukilteo Speedway, Mukilteo; 425-355-2200; www.kostascuisine.com.

Specialty: Mediterranean.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Vegetarian options: Some.

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