Gyro Sliders at Byzantio: A Greek-Italian-American Hybrid

The gyro sliders at Byzantio came highly recommended by two different waitresses. And although I admit that I've grown weary of the creeping slider-fication of various foods over the years (Any sandwich or burger in miniature is a slider now! Deal with it, America!!), I was also intrigued. I envisioned tiny strips of gyro meat between tiny puffs of pita, tzatiki sandwiching it all together with a few crisp strips of white onion and tomato.

What I actually received at Byzantio -- which is the subject of this week's cafe review -- was something entirely different. But not bad.

The tiny strips of gyro meat were there, shaved fine and thin. They'd been grilled before being laid across the slider, the meat nicely crisped at the edges. The tomato was there, too. But that's where the similarities between the slider in my head and the slider in front of me ended.

No pita bread; large coins of French bread sandwiched the slider together. No tzatiki sauce here, just mayo. And instead of white onions, each slider was topped with a boisterously large leaf of basil and a thick rectangle of salty feta, a few red onions peeking out from underneath. A ramekin of balsamic dressing sat in the middle of the slider trio, acting as a dip for the tough bread.

I was apprehensive of these confused-looking sliders, to be sure.

But then I tasted my first bite. It was as if someone had combined a caprese salad with a gyro, bright basil and balsamic vinegar playing against the salty feta and savory meat. The French bread was a letdown, but at least it softened well in the dressing. I ended up removing it altogether, though, for a basil wrap -- think lettuce wrap, but smaller and far more flavorful -- that held the meat, tomato, cheese and onions together brilliantly.

I was shocked at how much I liked this little Frankenstein's monster of a slider. But then again, I'm also shocked at how good the rest of the Greek food is at what is essentially a bar first and foremost, so at least my shock is consistent.

And that's the thing with Byzantio -- it really is a bar more than a restaurant, so expectations of service should be lowered accordingly. But if you're in the mood to tuck into a cozy neighborhood pub for a lazy evening and be feted with far better bar food than should be expected, Byzantio will pleasantly surprise you too.

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