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Angelina's

Angelina’s Kitchen in Pittsboro offers a unique blend of Greek and New Mexican fare. The menu changes every day at the eatery, which takes part in the local farm-to-table movement by using fresh goods from various local farms.

photo: Christie Hadden

Pittsboro’s gathering place

Angelina’s Kitchen owners relish farm-to-table philosophy

by Christie Hadden

 

Angelina’s Kitchen in Pittsboro is a hub of activity. A meeting place of sorts, it easily could be considered a modern-day version of the ancient Greek agora, or traditional kafenion: a local village gathering place and refuge where everyone in the community is welcome.

 

At any given moment, a farmer from Sunny Slope Greenhouses in Bear Creek can be seen delivering his or her freshly picked tomatoes, or a local craftsman might bring her famous preserves to the restaurant. Members of the Pittsboro community come to Angelina’s Kitchen to get their daily fix of good food, conversation and selection of farm-fresh goods.

 

Growing up Greek

The farm-to-table concept is not a new one for owner Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste — it’s a way of life. Growing up, she spent almost every summer in Greece, where her five aunts taught her cooking techniques the Greek way: garden fresh and seasonal.

 

Those summers in Chania exposed Koulizakis-Battiste to simple Crete country cooking, with lots of olive oil, lemon and tomatoes. And her mother, a world-class cook from Ioannina, Greece, showed her how to use phyllo dough and vegetables, particularly leafy greens.

 

Koulizakis-Battiste, who’s originally from Virginia, moved to Albuquerque, N.M., where she met her husband, John. The couple lived there for 15 years but decided to head back to the East Coast as their parents grew older. Chatham County had the flavor and type of environment they were searching for, so they settled into Pittsboro as their new home.

 

A passion for good food

It didn’t take long for Koulizakis-Battiste to discover the local farmers market and fall in love with the people and produce. She became a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and enjoyed cooking and preparing everything she received in her weekly delivery.

 

Others in the CSA weren’t always sure how to prepare the ingredients that were provided, so Koulizakis-Battiste took great joy in showing them how to make use of them.

 

“There was one cool vegetable after another,” she recalls. “Turmeric, brown rice, chili peppers and beet greens are my favorite.”

 

After John discovered the bounty of local Anaheim peppers, the couple decided to join the microfarm movement by opening their own restaurant, one that served only locally sourced ingredients. Angelina’s Kitchen opened in March 2009.

 

Blending Koulizakis-Battiste’s Greek roots with New Mexican flare, the eatery showcases Chatham County’s local ingredients, from honey and citrus to mushrooms, peppers, and meats. What shines here are the ingredients, which are lovingly prepared and unmasked without the overuse of flour and butter.

 

The menu changes daily at Angelina’s Kitchen, since Koulizakis-Battiste never knows which ingredients will be delivered that day. There’s also a standard menu of savory pies, gyros and falafel that are served throughout the year, as well as seasonal favorites.

 

Angelina’s Kitchen is supported by Screech Owl Greenhouses and Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO), among others, which offer a steady supply of meat throughout the off-season. There’s always a $5 special to be tasted, and most meals cost less than $10.

 

“The food has hoity-toity flavors, but at non-hoity-toity prices,” Koulizakis-Battiste explains.

 

A healthy collaboration

The restaurant is a collection of passionate cooks and bakers. Abigail Wilson — also known as the Gluten-Free Fairy — has been baking since she was 10 years old. Last year, Wilson discovered her own gluten intolerance. Koulizakis-Battiste allows her to experiment and sell her traditional and gluten-free baked goods at the restaurant.

 

Another employee, Olivia Harris, is a chocolatier who makes unique flavors like sour cherry truffles, citrus ginger and chai. Harris’ own mother farms and provides the restaurant with edible flowers.

 

It’s apparent here that the restaurant-farm relationship is symbiotic. Before Angelina’s Kitchen opened, Screech Owl Greenhouses sold only lettuce. Two years later, it has expanded from one greenhouse into four that produce tomatoes, green chili and poblano peppers, parsley, cutting celery, and cucumber.

 

Koulizakis-Battiste knows each farmer personally and knows that each animal and vegetable is treated with respect. And it’s her mission to support small, sustainable farming by bringing it all together on patrons’ plates.

 

“What we have is very special. You can’t re-create the relationship we have with our farmers anywhere else,” she says.

 

“Each farm has its own cool story and its own cool people.” 

 

Christie Hadden is a world-traveling food fanatic and founder of My Restaurant Guru, a Triangle-based dining directory and review site that connects people with the area’s best eateries. To learn more, visit www.MyRestaurantGuru.com.


Naked Xortopita

Xorta is the Greek word for field greens, and the word pita is used to describe any pie made with phyllo dough. Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste, owner of Angelina’s Kitchen in Pittsboro, learned this version of Xortopita from her mother, Danae. Because no dough is used, the pie is considered “naked.” This dish works well hot, at room temperature or straight from the refrigerator.

 

3 pounds fresh leafy greens (spinach, mustard and beet greens are best)

2 bunches parsley

1 1/2 cups onions, leeks and spring onions (any or all will do)

Olive oil

3-4 fresh eggs

Cottage or ricotta cheese to taste

Feta or goat cheese to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Chop greens into 1/2-inch strips and gently steam until done. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, clean parsley off the stems, finely chop onions and sauté both in olive oil until almost brown on the edges. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, then place in a baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

 


If you go

Angelina’s Kitchen is located at 23 Rectory St. in Pittsboro. The Greek-themed restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. To learn more, visit (919) 545-5505 or visit www.angelinaskitchenonline.com.