Finally! Healthy eating has arrived in Boca Raton. It’s “Orion Fresh Mediterranean, “ a tiny gem tucked away in the Fifth Avenue Shops Shopping Center.
This amazing restaurant jointly owned by two outstanding chefs — Vietnamese-American Anh Tuyet Cao and her husband, Georgios Tsinivits, born in northern Greece. The two have combined their talents to come up with a tempting, fresh, and healthy range of tastes that customers can combine into customized-bowls of lunch or dinner fare.
It’s a joy to eat one of these long with the exotic-flavored fruit tea concocted by the pair with names that reflect originality such Havana Mojito( mango green tea with lime & mint), Hibiscus & Mint, and my favorite, Hibiscus Watermelon Mint Margarita tea, — all in a virgin state. A tall, refreshing glass of any one of these provides the perfect complement to the menu — fresh vegetables, rice, greens — topped with mouth-watering meats — all put together to the patron’s wishes in a convenient “bowl.”
Yes, Orion is following the trend that Boca residents seem to want these days — a customized meal served the way Chipotle and Bento do — in a bowl. But unlike Chipotle, there are no hidden calories, just fresh, tasty ingredients. Plus, there are no distracting, loud crowds. The atmosphere is purposefully calm and peaceful — with sky blue Mediterranean walls, brick arches.
It almost has a European feeling, since customers are welcomed by a basin on the right when they walk in, where they can wash their hands in anticipation of delicious, healthy meals.
Ordering my first “bowl” at Orion, I watched the chef put together the exact ingredients I asked for: Romaine lettuce and spinach — from a unique refrigerated wall cabinet for “greens” behind the counter. Then he added the veggies I preferred like red pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini. Finally, he topped everything with braised lamb I couldn’t resist. The aroma had been calling to me ever since I walked up to the counter. Georgios told me the marinade was inspired by recipes from Georgios’s mother and grandmother — back in, Pelargos, the northern Greek village where he grew up. As I savored my dinner, the woodsy, tart flavor of the meat transported me to a time when I was eating outdoors at a restaurant in Tarabya, a neighborhood in Istanbul, located right on the Bosphorus. That refreshing combination of flavors, plus my “Margarita” drink proved to be a perfect way to start a Friday evening, without letting me overeat!
Georgios was happy to explain his culinary philosophy to me. It developed as he worked in several American Greek restaurants, where he felt the food was sub-par and not authentic. He knew, after marrying Anh, that he and she could do better. “Most Greek restaurants all serve the same kind of dishes like “Europita,” he says, speaking about gyro wrapped in a pita. “These dishes lack the flavor of true Greek cuisine.” Georgios’s youthful memories of authentic Greek flavors, plus creative teamwork with his wife Anh, are what have enabled the couple to dream up new marinades for their meats and lighthearted, fresh fruity flavors for their teas. That is how Orion became a true gift from a pair of talents, providing Boca Raton with fresh, tasty Mediterranean food with an Asian twist in an informal, peaceful atmosphere.
What made the combination of vegetables and greens so satisfying? Chef/owner Anh told me, “In the culinary world, you have to marry the ingredients, and that makes the food more delicious.”
April W. Klimley
Every writer has a number of favorite topics or subjects. For me, that original focus as a freelance writer has been on business and industry because these fields are linked to economic development. I embraced these subjects after living abroad because of my belief that economic development is the key to a more peaceful world.