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Pastitsio offers traditional Greek food with fresh, local ingredients

Pastitsio is a new Greek deli in Lawrenceville, specializing in dishes any Greek grandma would recognize -- but preparing them with a nod to the current culinary mania for fresh, local ingredients.

"I went to culinary school when I got out of high school," says chef/owner Stamatis Bournias, 30. "Ever since I got out, I wanted to open my own place. Mediterranean and Greek has always been the cuisine I've been comfortable eating and preparing. When I was in school, I was doing a lot of fresh salads and fresh ingredients, grown locally and raised locally, so (combining them) that's what I wanted to do."

The gyro, of course, is as much a part of Pittsburgh's indigenous cuisine as the pierogie, or arm's-length fish sandwich.

"The Gyro ($6.99) is probably the biggest seller, because more people are familiar with it," Bournias says. "The gyro meat, actually, I make fresh."

"I get a lot of my Greek stuff, my olive oil and olives down at Salonika, a Greek distributor down the street," he says. "I get my lamb from Jamison Farms down in Latrobe. I'm trying to deal with local butchers, like Anderson Distribution down in the Strip District. I get soda from Natrona Bottling Company."

The space itself is bright, clean and minimally decorated, with an exposed brick wall and tin ceiling. Bournias is a one-man band at the moment, so if he's not at the counter, he's probably in the back making Souzoukakia ($8.99) -- seasoned lamb and beef meatballs in a thick tomato and wine sauce over rice -- or experimenting with new dishes. The menu changes constantly, though a few favorites always are available.

Pastitsio's namesake ($8.99) is one of Bournias' favorite dishes, a hearty Greek take on lasagna.

"It's a Greek casserole -- the definition would be 'all together,' " he says. "So, there's a lot of stuff inside. There's pasta on the bottom, then a layer of ground beef seasoned with a little bit of cinnamon, and tomato sauce. On the top is a white bechamel sauce. It's always been my favorite. I've got a couple of nieces who are almost 1 and 3, and they love it."

Takeout is Pastitsio's bread-and-butter, though Bournias says he's working on expanding delivery and catering. Dining in also is an option, though there are only three tables at the moment. Food is served with a minimum of fuss, on paper plates, though that might change.

"A lot of the entrees take a lot of time to make, but not a lot of time to come in and buy," Bournias says. "And (takeout) doesn't make a mess at your house. You can eat the good stuff without the hassle."

Additional Information:

Pastitsio

Location: 3716 Butler St., Lawrenceville

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays

Details: : 412-586-7656 or website

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