Restaurant review: Koble's good and good-priced Greek dishes are the upside to newish Westerville eatery

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Ups and downs around scenic old Westerville can be confounding. The east-side suburb — a former stronghold of prohibition — is experiencing a keen uptick in pub service after its long crackdown on alcohol. And instead of featuring a downtown district, Westerville promotes an “Uptown.”

The heartbeat of Uptown is a charming stretch of State Street that offers endearing vintage buildings plus an ascendant and appealing restaurant scene. This is where you’ll find Koble Greek-Italian Grill, an eatery with some confounding ups and downs of its own.

Open since late February, the owners of Koble — Orion Trifoni and Ilias Strovolidis — wield very respectable restaurant bona fides. Combined, their resumes include prominent positions at Easy Street Cafe, Anna’s Greek Cuisine and two Greek Corners. That experience wasn’t for naught.

If hardly oozing unique personality, Koble’s sleek design scheme is immediately inviting. Brick, wood, earth tones and a large rectangular bar with sports-tuned TVs team up for an alluring and modern space that resembles a cushy condo.

And Koble’s food shoots out without a hitch, even though it employs a system — order-at-the-counter-wait-at-a-table — that elsewhere can be erratic in speed and accuracy.

On the downside, when confronted with questions like “What kind of cheese is this?” and “How is that cooked?” friendly but uninformed servers didn’t know and didn’t bother to find out. While good deals and strong dishes abound, quizzically priced items and disappointing meals likewise exist.

Begin with a refreshment from the modest wine list or six taps presenting options from Four String, Deschutes, Moretti and 21st Amendment (sweet-leaning cocktails are available, too). Now move onto the creamy and feeds-two-huge Avgolemono soup ($4) or the fine Octopus starter.

Octopus is often chewy as rubber, but Koble’s hunks were meaty and tender. Caramelized onions and peppers plus judiciously applied oil and acid ably assisted the winning and colorful dish. At $10, it’s a bargain.

Priced at $16, the Koble Combo is not. It stars two delicious, grilled sausages — a spicy Italian plus a lemony and herby Greek. But the platter’s supporting cast of garnishes, such as undistinguished semi-soft cheeses, sour cream-heavy tzatziki, a few olives and peppers and iceberg lettuce didn’t add much interest or value.

A far better deal is the Souvlaki Gyro ($6.50) — tender and juicy chunks of grilled pork dressed in creamy garlic sauce, feta cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions. The lusty mess comes wrapped in a warm, puffy pita and goes best with crispy, spice-dusted fries ($2).

If size matters, try the imposing Italian Meatball Pasta ($12). If mealtime balance is important, look elsewhere. The meatballs — which are large enough to be called meat-boulders — had a decent cheesy flavor, but were spongy-textured. They arrived on a gargantuan bed of linguine tossed in a tart and single-dimensional tomato sauce missing its advertised basil flavor.

From the “house specials” list, the pleasant Stuffed Peppers ($12) is an old homey favorite given Hellenic twists. Two blistered bell pepper halves arrive filled with a tomato-y ground beef and rice mixture enlivened by mint and feta. Completing the hearty and flavorful meal was an above-average Greek salad and a thick, lemony Greek potato — but, again, no detectable menu-promised basil.

Another house specialty, Grilled Lamb Chops ($20), was a Koble highlight. Five small but meaty and melt-in-your-mouth chops were fresh-tasting and delicious. The succulent quintet came with Koble’s reliable Greek salad and so-so rice — but was absent its promised “garlic lemonata sauce.”

On the restaurant’s website, “koble” is defined as a Greek adjective meaning “lacking nothing.” Clearly, Koble isn’t quite there yet. Here’s hoping this review will help a worthy eatery with many upsides address its pesky downsides.

Photos by Meghan Ralston

Koble Greek Italian Grill

7 N. State St., Westerville