One-stop shopping at Rehoboth’s Corner Grille
Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. For instance, who knows what you might discover behind the façade of an innocent sandwich shop? Well, one of the best-kept secrets in downtown Rehoboth Beach is the tasty Greek specialties at the Corner Grille. There’s definitely a lot more than burgers and cheesesteaks goin’ on in there.
I’m still trying to figure out how this little spot at First and Wilmington escaped my notice. (Aren’t I supposed to know these things?) On the other hand, I’ve never met a baklava or souvlaki I didn’t like, so when my friend and renowned grocery maven Mike Moshos dropped by to tout George Vrentzos’ made-from-scratch goodies, I was there in two shakes of a lamb shish kebab.
George is no stranger to the kitchen. He began his cooking career literally under fire in the Greek military (I suspect the only actual fire he saw was the burners on his range). He came to the United States in the late ‘70s, landing a job as head chef at the hoity-toity Diplomat Restaurant in Bethesda, Md. Upscale ethnic cuisine was his specialty, and he was soon running the kitchen at the Serbian Crown restaurant in Washington, D.C., since relocated to Great Falls, Va.
After brief stints at Bethesda’s erstwhile Café Cordell (Moshos was the manager there), and at his own George’s Pizza delivery in Oxford, Pa. - there’s money in them there dorms! - George and his wife Soula welcomed their daughter Irene into the world.
And yes, I am referring to the very same Soula who smiles from behind the counter at Rehoboth Mall’s Alterations by Soula.
The woman works wonders with a needle and thread. If I had a nickel for every pair of pants that she good-naturedly let out for this foodie…well, I’d probably just buy a pizza.
George and Soula opened the Athenian Café in Waldorf, Md. (complete with Zahra, the belly dancer), and young Irene spent the first 14 years of her life growing up in the busy restaurant. When the family moved to the Rehoboth area, she enrolled at Delaware Technical & Community College, earning her degree in early childhood education.
George knew that the restaurant business was habit forming, and he patiently waited for Irene’s independent nature to tire of the bureaucracy of the education industry. Daddy knows best, and in 2009 he and his daughter opened the Corner Grille. Soula made it abundantly clear that she was not budging from behind her sewing machine at Rehoboth Mall, except maybe for the occasional weekend shift.
“I love to cook,” George tells me, and it’s obvious from the menu that the little joint isn’t just about Greek food. Breakfast goodies include French toast, pancakes, waffles, eggs, and of course the obligatory Greek omelet. Sandwiches, subs and burgers populate the lunch menu. On sunny summer afternoons, a nonstop parade of sandy toes snatches up subs, burgers, wraps and cheesesteaks that pad out the door and back to the beach.
Next time you visit Corner Grille, get adventurous! The homemade hummus (chick pea, garlic and tahini puree) and tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, and garlic) are the stuff of legend. Though my friends here at the Cape Gazette remind me to curb my inclination to be a food critic - me? Opinionated? - I have to tell you that the rice pudding at Corner Grille is the best I’ve ever had.
And right there is the reason I like to think of the Vrentzos family as one-stop shopping. I can feast on George and Irene’s marinated gyros, creamy spanakopita and lemony dolmades (with a jaunty dollop of rice pudding on the side), then Soula can once again perform her stitching magic to enlarge my cargo pants.
It gives a whole new meaning to watching your waistline.