Lincolnwood’s Greek restaurant reborn
Psistaria Greek Taverna in Lincolnwood is now owned by the Bournas family, Pete on the left and Tom on the right. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
4711 W. Touhy Ave., Lincolnwood
Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.
Updated: March 25, 2013 1:18AM
LINCOLNWOOD — Psistaria Greek Taverna has been Lincolnwood’s sole Greek restaurant since it opened in 1967, but over the decades had become run-down and tired, with aging décor and an unexciting menu.
But today Psistaria offers an entirely new Greek dining experience that has Lincolnwood talking, thanks to brothers George and Tom Bournas, who acquired ownership of the eatery nine months ago.
Along with George’s son Pete and wife Dina and Tom’s son Kosta, the Bournas family has turned Psistaria into an authentic family-style Greek dining experience that has already gained a large following of regulars, including Lincolnwood Mayor Jerry Turry, who can often be found having lunch at Psistaria.
George and Tom have been in the restaurant industry since the late 1970s, when both brothers came to the U.S. from Greece and began working together at a restaurant in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood.
The brothers worked together at the restaurant for more than 30 years before taking over ownership of Psistaria in April of last year.
“They came to the U.S. to follow the American dream, and they finally realized it by owning their own restaurant,” Pete Bournas said.
The Bournas family has assured that Psistaria is a truly family-run business. George is head chef, making each dish from scratch with authentic Greek ingredients. Dina makes delicious desserts like the Karidopita (a sweet walnut cake with cinnamon served with ice cream on the side) and appetizers like the Spanakopitakia (spinach and feta wrapped in filo dough) from her own family recipes.
Each family member is dedicated to making the restaurant a success. While George and Dina stay busy in the kitchen, Tom, Pete and Kosta run the dining room and bar areas.
Tom is known for his concerned nature. If someone doesn’t finish most of what’s on their plate, he usually will go by the table and make sure the food is okay, said Bruce Livingston, a Skokie resident who frequents Psistaria.
“Tom stays here around the clock and watches all the tables for the smallest details to make sure everyone is happy,” Livingston said. “On top of the service, the food is always perfect, and there’s a lot of variety and a big portion for a good price.”
From the décor to the menu, the many changes made at Psistaria have caught the eye of the public.
On any given weekend night and on some weekdays, there’s a line of cars waiting to turn into the tiny parking lot that sits just off the Edens Touhy exit.
Valet parking is always free, and once inside the cozy restaurant adorned with modern-day Greek decor, guests are greeted by Tom himself, who escorts each party to a white tablecloth-covered table where a truly authentic Greek experience awaits.
The aging blue and white walls and décor in the old Psistaria have been replaced with muted Greek-inspired colors, reupholstered booths and new flooring.
The Bournas Family also developed a new menu with more traditional Greek offerings and additional appetizers and specials. Everything is homemade on site, except for the bread.
A long list of specials that changes every day keeps the menu interesting. Some favorites include the Arni Fournou (oven-baked lamb with potatoes, olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano for $16.95), and the stingray (broiled with ladolemono and served with Skordalia and a side of rice, potatoes or vegetables for $15.95).
Authentic Greek soup specials also rotate daily, like the Avgolemono (egg-lemon soup with rice and chicken broth) or the Fasolada (navy bean soup).