Hendersonville – A new Mediterranean restaurant near Downtown Hendersonville is impressing customers with food and service led by its bubbly co-owner.
”This is a dream come true for us [to operate a] Mediterranean pizza and pasta restaurant in Hendersonville,” West Henderson alumnus Effie Loumis said about her homecoming.
Marino and Effie Loumis own and operate Marino’s Pizza House, a new restaurant in what was Yogurt World. Next door is Hot Dog World. Thanasi Tsakalos now owns HDW on his own.
Marino’s opened on Nov. 15. That is a year after Dora Katsadouros’ Yogurt World closed. After nine years in business. Marino’s is at 228 Kanuga Road — a half-block west of Church Street. Washington Street dead-ends into Kanuga there.
Many patrons buy meals from both Marino’s and HDW. Marino’s has two carry-out parking spots nearest HDW.
“We love being beside my brother-in-law’s business,” said Effie. She is the youngest of two sisters of Thanasi’s wife Vickie. “Thanasi and my husband have talked about this for years. Then the space became available” after Yogurt World closed. She is undaunted by the pandemic. “The timing is perfect. I think God has his timing for us. We’re blessed to be here.”
The Loumises moved to the area after living in Charlotte since 1998. They operated a pizzeria in Salisbury after working in one in Greensboro. “Marino came to the U.S. to live the American dream,” Effie said. Marino worked in a family-run restaurant in Greece. It served pizza, subs and crepes.
Extroverted, enthusiastic Effie and Marino’s cooking are impressing customers. Strong online patron reviews include Jessica Jenkins raving about “delicious” food with “quality ingredients,” and “bubbly” customer service. Brittany Michelle Gordon called the ‘Greek God’ the “best sub I’ve ever had.”
Marino’s features pizza, stromboli, calzone, subs and salads with “fresh ingredients,” reflecting “the way we eat,” Greek-born Effie said.
“I absolutely love our pizza” — for its flavors, ingredients and “how thin the crust is. The dough is just perfect. Marino makes our dough from scratch.”
Pizza varieties (all with cheese) are the following: meat lovers (ham, beef, sausage, pepperoni, onions), “house special” (meat lovers’ meats split with mushrooms, green peppers), Greek (feta cheese, black olives, green peppers, onions, fresh tomatoes), margarita (fresh tomatoes, basil, herbs, mozzarella), Hawaiian (ham, pineapple), BBQ chicken, sausage and peppers, bacon and (caramelized) onion, mushroom and onion, or a cheese pizza. Pizza sizes are either 16 or 14 inches.
Pasta, Subs, Sauces
“Our pastas are amazing, too,” Effie said. “They go well with Greek salads.”
Stromboli has a pouch that folds over. The patron can customize it by ordering pizza ingredients inside. It comes with tomato-based pizza cheese. It is longer than a calzone.
A calzone is a half-moon in shape. It also contains pizza ingredients. Its distinction is an option of rich Ricotta cheese instead of pizza cheese.
Eight oven-baked submarine sandwich selections include the Greek God. It has steak or chicken and includes feta cheese.
Lunch specials include a pizza slice, sub and salad, and six chicken wings with fries.
Effie emphasized they use fresh ingredients with locally grown vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers.
Sauces are another priority. “Our sauces taste smooth — not too sweet, not too acidic,” Effie said. She said Marino adds Greek herbs to sauces, including in Marinara sauce for meatball subs. The Alfredo sauce is made daily — instead of being frozen — for chicken Alfredo.
All desserts are preservatives-free, from a Greek bakery in Atlanta, Effie noted. Pastries include Italian cannoli, Greek phyllo-layered baklava with chopped nuts, and a double-sized combo of baklava with a yummy cheesecake layer.
Honey is readily used instead of sugar in such desserts. Honey is a preservative. The cheesecake portion can last three days in a refrigerator, and the baklava portion lasts many days longer, Effie said. “Baklava is scorched in honey,” Effie said. “Honey is therapeutic. It provides natural energy. I put it in my tea.”
Imported Greek honey is an item Effie said quickly sells out. Each glass container sells for $10 in Marino’s. Effie noted “Marino’s family makes it in Porto Heli, Greece.” The “Greek Riviera” grew from a secluded fishing village to a port. It is on the eastern side of Greece’s main Peloponnese peninsula.
New Huge Kitchen
Marino rents space from Steve Katsadouros, who co-owned HDW for 35 years. The former retail shop was modernized into Yogurt World. Last year “Marino re-designed the kitchen with specific dimensions, to get a good flow” for workers, Effie said. The kitchen includes a large oven, grill, and dough-making machine.
Effie Loukas grew up in the small village of Angelokastro in western Greece until age nine, when in 1984 her family moved to Hendersonville. She was named after her grandmother as “Efthalia.” That means blooming and flourishing. “Marino” means a mariner.
Effie’s degree is in psychology from N.C. State, with a communications minor. She and Marino have no children.
Their niece Lina Tsakalos works for them. She is the elder of two daughters of Thanasi and Vickie Tsakalos. Her two older brothers work in HDW. She is an all-A West Henderson senior.
She prefers working up front with customers. Lina, 17, said “I’m a people person” — like her parents and her Aunt Effie. “It’s in our blood,” she said both of the family’s love of cooking, baking and socializing. Her principal, Luke Manuel, calls Lina a “great student,” outgoing with a “wonderful personality.”
Marino’s is hiring. “We’d love experienced people who know how to bake with dough,” Effie said. “That’d be amazing.”
How is it working with hard-working and chatty Greeks? Alexis Edenfield, an East Henderson senior, quipped “it’s too much fun” working at Marino’s and hearing the Loumises’ rapid-fire Greek to each other. Effie said Alexis learned “ella” — when beckoned to “come” here, to help with tasks.
Orders can be called in via 595-2545, or made in person. To see the menu, check marinospizzahouse.com/menu.