My first bite of moussaka from Sparta Pizza was satisfying and rich. It's impossible to eat an entire slice by yourself, but you'll try anyway.
It starts with a layer of sauteed egg plant slices, followed by an inch of ground beef, more egg plant and then an inch of mashed potatoes. It's topped with a béchamel sauce, baked and served warm.
Decadent and over the top with a calorie count that's sure to keep me in the gym for the next month, moussaka ($13), is one of more than a dozen classic Greek dishes served at the Dimond pizza spot.
The decor inside is as rich as the dishes. Walls are bathed in deep hues of red and orange. Sunlight fills the front entrance where a handful of tables wait for diners.
I placed an order at the counter and chatted with owner Pete Foudeas. He also owns Milano's Pizza (1207 West 36th Ave.) and the menus from both restaurants are fairly similar. The difference is the addition of several traditional Greek dishes.
"I wanted to do more Greek dishes," said Foudeas. "If people like it we'll do more Greek dishes on a regular basis."
Currently the Greek offerings include spanakopita ($12), a mix of sauteed spinach, onions and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo pastry and baked in the oven. The entree is served with a Greek salad. Sparta also has gyros made with chicken, lamb, a combination of beef and lamb or Greek sausage (each $10). They come with onions and tomatoes wrapped up in pita with tsatsiki sauce. There's also a veggie option ($10) made with roasted eggplant, zucchini and peppers. All gyros also come with fries. I love the chicken gyro ($10). Mediterranean spices cover every inch of the thickly sliced chicken. It's slightly spicy but not overwhelming. Plump red tomatoes and purple onions add color and a crunch. The pita bread is toasted with a garlicky, buttery flavor. If it's a glimpse into what's to come if Sparta expands its menu, we're in for a treat.
The Spartan Plate ($17), is a combination of moussaka, gyro meat, and spanakopita with lemon roasted potatoes, rice and Greek salad on the side.
Sparta has six traditional pizza choices, plus three Greek offerings and the choice to create-your-own. The chef's mistake ($17 - $20) has pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives. The Greek spinach pizza (large only, $19) is made with garlic butter, fresh spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and feta cheese. The gyro pizza (large only, $20) has garlic butter, gyro meat, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, feta and mozzarella cheeses and cucumber sauce.
The menu also boasts pastas ($10 - $12), calzones ($12), salads ($4-11) as well as chicken wings and strips ($12 - $20) and a menu of Philly cheese steaks (all $10).
The chef grills and slices top sirloin and fresh veggies for the Phillys every morning. The result is creations like the Philly bomb, a combination of Swiss cheese, Geneva salami, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives. You can also make your own with toppings such as green peppers, pepperoni, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, jalapenos, pepperoncinis, tomatoes and black olives.
I'm a huge mushroom fan and can't resist the Philly mushroom cheesesteak. Swiss cheese, meat and mushrooms stuffed into a lightly toasted sub roll and served up so steaming hot it fogs up my car every time.
More Greek items on the menu would help set Sparta apart from other pizza spots in town, but its formula is already delicious.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Options: Dine-in, takeout and delivery.
Address: 1005 E. Dimond Blvd
By Rebecca Palsha
Daily News correspondent