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Genuine gyros: Berryville's Knossos expands to Winchester

Knossos Restaurant
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Naeem and Kamal Khan stand with Woldorf in front of the counter at Knossos.

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Greek food
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An array of Greek food is on display.

Laura Woldorf slices Gyro meat
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Laura Woldorf slices gyro meat off the spit at the new Knossos Restaurant in Winchester.

Gyro platter
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A Greek gyro, featuring lamb and beef gyro meat, tomatoes, onion and tzatziki sauce, with fried zucchini and fries is served up at Knossos restaurant on North Loudoun Street. Dennis Grundman/Daily

By Jessica Wiant -- jwiant@nvdaily.com
WINCHESTER -- Whether pronounced "hero," "jyroh" or "yee-roh," a traditional Greek gyro is without a doubt the iconic menu item for the new Knossos restaurant at 688 N. Loudoun St. in Winchester.

"Of course the most popular entree we have is the Greek gyro," says the new restaurant's general manager, Laura Woldorf. "The pronunciation is debatable."

The gyro with fries and a drink is on long-term special for $6.50, she says.

The restaurant, familiar to those who frequent its sister Knossos Cafe in Berryville, offers a whole host of foods that might be brand new to anyone who has never visited a Greek eatery.

So don't let the names intimidate. A gyro is simply a "delicious combination" of beef and lamb, served in warm pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce, according to the menu.

And tzatziki sauce? "That's the famous cucumber sauce that everybody always asks for extra," Woldorf says.

It's important to note that at Knossos, the meat is actually cooked on a spit in traditional Greek fashion, shaved off and grilled before it makes it to the plate, she says.

"The meat is the real thing," she says.

Spanakopita might sound intimidating, but it's merely a blend of spinach, feta cheese and herbs wrapped in buttered filo dough and baked -- spinach pie, you could call it.

Vegetarians love falafel, fried patties made from chickpeas, Woldorf says.

And fried zucchini, that's just what it sounds like, but don't underestimate it, says Woldorf.

"People die for our fried zucchini," she says.

Other popular menu items are the Chicken Souvlaki Platter and Zorba's Salad, according to Woldorf.

The new Knossos location opened only about a month ago, though some people might even remember Knossos from a decade or more ago when it had locations in Vienna, Leesburg. Manassas and Springfield.

Of course, the restaurant serves as an easy crash course to introduce newbies to Greek food -- "I can literally make their mouth water," Woldorf says of explaining the menu to newcomers -- but it's also got something for the seasoned consumer.

Woldorf, who worked as a cook at the Berryville location before becoming general manager in Winchester, says a woman who'd been "all over Greece" recently went gaga for Woldorf's own secret hummus recipe.

Frequent guests of the Berryville location were always asking the owners to bring Knossos to Winchester, according to Khan. The location they found on North Loudoun Street was affordable and well-suited for what they wanted, he and Woldorf say.

Earlier this week Barbara Smith, of Winchester, stopped by the new location after having already been to the Berryville restaurant. She ordered a custom burger with feta on pita bread -- which the staff happily obliged.

"It was very, very good," Smith said.

Woldorf says she stands behind the food because it's so good, but also wants to stress the family atmosphere of the restaurant -- on both sides of the counter. Her daughter Taelor, 16, is working at Knossos as a waitress.

"The food speaks for itself," she says.

The hope is that, compared to the still-going-strong Berryville location, in the bigger Winchester location, there will be more room for offering that family-friendly atmosphere, full service and even a bit of entertainment, according to Woldorf. Soon, the restaurant plans to start hosting karaoke on Saturday nights.

There's also a little more room on the menu for more extensive Greek as well as American fare, says owner Kamal Khan.

Weekly American specials will run in the $5 range, Woldorf says.

The regular Knossos menu features Greek appetizers, platters and even desserts -- the baklava, like the spanakopita, is cooked by the true Greek member of the staff.

But items like hamburgers, club sandwiches and a full breakfast menu also are available all day.

hours & info
• Knossos is at 688 N. Loudoun St., Winchester and is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. They offer free local delivery and can be reached at 665-5155.

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