Published on Washington Post on May 14th, 2020
Angela Pagonis says she misses offering, in person, the hospitality for which her family’s restaurant in Vienna is known. But recipients of takeout from Nostos still get a sweet taste of thoughtfulness when they open their bag and find a gratis dessert inside. “It’s part of the Greek way, to end the meal with a treat from the host,” says the general manager.
But first! Isn’t the fish roe, whipped to a saline pink cloud, wonderful? Thank goodness the dip comes with a bag of oregano-speckled pita bread, cut into triangles for easy (as in immediate) consumption. What’s described on the menu as “meatballs” more closely resemble bunless baby burgers shot through with dill, garlic and parsley. They come two per order, framed in roasted potatoes kissed with lemon and oregano. Faintly smoky skewered swordfish benefits from a winey marinade and a backdrop of sliced beets, sweet with honey but balanced with vinegar; glossy grape leaves stuffed with rice and pine nuts come with a summery dunk of tzatziki. Nostos offers about 80 percent of the menu it used to, says Pagonis. Because she thinks it suffers in transport, fried food is no longer available.
Citrus is a theme at Nostos. Lemon runs through pretty much everything, including the kitchen’s thick-with-chicken-and-rice soup, although orange lends sunshine to the wedge of white cake, swollen with housemade syrup, I discovered in my bag. (Your free finish might vary, depending on what Pagonis’s mother, co-owner Despina, is experimenting with in the kitchen.) A bottle of wine from Nostos’s collection underscores the restaurant’s generosity. Everything is half-price. 8100 Boone Blvd. Vienna. 703-760-0690.nostosrestaurant.com. Open 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free delivery within a five-mile radius. Dinner entrees $24 to $40.