A review of Aria, the new Greek restaurant in Swarthmore

I had a chance to visit Aria, the new Greek restaurant that’s opened

up in town. You would think that a college town would have a few

quaint places to eat, but for the most part it really hasn’t. This

surprising lack made it feel good to find a place I can walk to and


I arrived with my brother and one of my sisters. We walked there easily. To me, it felt novel and nice to just walk into a building and sit down and eat. We got seated quickly, and waited for menus. In the background, a CD played of presumably Greek music. I don’t speak the language, so I don’t know. Suddenly, we noticed that the CD had started skipping badly. The skipping interspersed with the rapid tempo of the music made it sound like some new weird form of Greko-industrial. They must have noticed, because when I got back from going to the bathroom it had stopped.

The restaurant just started last week, so we had to excuse some things. They did not have menus, but would get them shortly. It didn’t matter, because the affable owner explained everything to us. I told him I eat a vegetarian diet, and he enthusiastically suggested his falafel. “I make a very good falafel sandwich.” “Sold.” “You want lettuce, tomatoes, onions, everything?” “Yes, load it up!” “Very good.” We all found the owner a joy to deal with, and it made the initial hick-ups that undoubtedly go with opening a place like this bearable. Give him a few weeks.

While waiting for our food, we discussed the place. My sister said it looked like a plain room, with nothing particularly Mediterranean about it. Businesses haven’t done well here, especially restaurants and bakeries. The place started getting more crowded as the evening progressed, and we felt glad about that. They brought out some excellent pita bread and some mild but still good hummus. We enjoyed that and continued chatting.

We got our food in a reasonable enough time, and we all considered it very good. My falafel had all the toppings as promised. My order came with two halves, each individually wrapped in paper. I ate both. The order also came with some interesting flower-shaped corn chips. The rest of my family ordered giros, and enjoyed them equally. We had to go, but I did get some baklava to go, and that tasted wonderful as well. All and all, my order came to a little over six dollars – not expensive at all, another welcome change.

I give Aria four out of five stars. We had to wait a little at the end to get our bill, the service needs some improving, but it certainly will improve as the restaurant matures. I wish it well, and give it my blessing. They have a full restaurant, and do take-out as well, so if you live in the area give it a try. I may even join you.

Walking home in a surprisingly mild November rain, it felt good to have this new restaurant in town. We will have one or two other new ones opening which I will also review. I’ve had a few reoccurring dreams where I’ve found myself eating at a restaurant here in town, something that up to now most of us locals haven’t done, at least none of the ones I know. Dreams come true.

Update – 2010May31

I have heard that they have not improved their service, and others have had some less than spectacular experiences. They’d better pull it together. I hope they do.