Greeneville’s Gondolier Restaurant is located just off the Andrew Johnson Highway (US 11-E). It is convenient to Greeneville, Tusculum College, Chuckey, Afton and points north. One of thirty five locations across Tennessee and Kentucky, the Gondolier chain has been in business since 1974. Owner Vasilios “Bill” Sioutis and his two sons have taken their time in growing their business, being very careful to make sure their professional and family-friendly business model extends to not only the look of the restaurant but to the conduct and knowledge of the staff as well.
Gondolier Restaurant & Pizza has one of the most extensive and diverse menus featuring Mediterranean cuisine. Yes, Italian dishes are there, but so are those from the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean as well.
The Carnivore and the Dieter have Greeneville’s Gondolier on their list of favorites, and recently invited my dining partner and myself along for 3enjoyment of an evening’s meal and each other’s company.
After seating us at a comfortable table in the back, our server Andrew got our drink orders filled, and I chose an order of their Fresh Baked Maryland Crab Dip ($8.95) for us to munch on while we decided on our entrees. Though it took about 10 minutes to arrive at table, the crab dip was most appreciated by the four of us. Using Gondolier’s Alfredo sauce as a base, the chef adds blue crab backfin and claw meat with a smidgen of garlic and spices under a blanket of melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and serves it with a basket of toasted Italian bread that is brushed with a garlic-infused olive oil. This is one of the best ways to serve blue crab and avoid getting pinched.
After sharing our appetizer of Maryland’s best around the table, we each gave Andrew our orders for supper. I chose an antipasto salad ($7.79), while my dining partner opined that the Baked Veal Roma ($12.99) was more her speed. The Carnivore’s choice, Da Vinci’s Delight ($15.95) got an approving nod from the Dieter, who promptly ordered a chicken entree for her Saturday supper, in this case Gondolier’s signature Baked Chicken Sorrentino ($12.99). Since Gondolier’s menu is made “to order,” the entrees began to show up after about 15 minutes, my antipasto salad being first. Though the dine-around bunch has a rule that orders served in sequence instead of together were to be eaten while hot, a cautionary look from my dining partner told me I should dawdle for a bit. My patience was rewarded as the other three entrees arrived together.
The greens in my antipasto salad appeared to be boarded over with slices of salami, ham, pepperoni and provolone cheese, but ripping up the false floor gave access to the crisp, cold lettuce, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled pepperoncini rings and Kalamata olives; just what I was looking for, and all of it well-complemented by Gondolier’s tangy house dressing.
My dining partner was fully involved in the consumption of her Roma-style baked veal, where a breaded veal cutlet is added to a combination of sliced eggplant and ricotta cheese, then covered with mozzarella cheese and baked until golden brown. Though my dining partner is more a fan of veal than of eggplant, after two enthusiastic bites it was good to see her eating her vegetables.
The Carnivore was enjoying his evening with Da Vinci. After a week’s intake of steaks, chops and burgers, my friend said he was giving his tummy and taste buds a break and a treat at the same time with a lighter fare of grilled shrimp and breast of chicken mixed with broccoli florets, cremini mushrooms and leaf spinach sautéed in olive oil, fresh garlic, red pepper and Italian spices served either over ziti pasta or, in my friend’s case, on the side. My friend finished by mopping up every bit of the sauté reduction with a scarpetta of Gondolier’s excellent Italian bread.
Winning honors as “Entree of the Night” was the Dieter’s Baked Chicken Sorrentino, where a chicken breast is layered with ham and eggplant, then topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and baked until bubbly. The side order of spaghetti served with the dish barely got a nod from the Dieter, who was too busy savoring every morsel to be concerned with a plate of tangled pasta and sauce.
Our discussion on the drive home involved the meal we’d just enjoyed and whether the Gondolier menu could be completely sampled in a year’s time? Given the variety of entrees and the different combinations that could be made from them and the associated side orders, the Carnivore postulated that the menu could be thoroughly sampled in less than six months, and the test subject would have to eat lunch and supper there every day that Gondolier Restaurant was open for business.
Gondolier Italian Restaurant & Pizza
3465 E. Andrew Johnson Highway
Sun – Thu 11 a.m. -10 p.m.
Fri – Sat 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Available on Facebook
Credit card accepted