Bread & Butter is just the beginning

This deli has it all, from Greek and Italian dishes to American favorites.

Marcia Biggs, Tampa Tribune, Friday Extra, Tampa, Florida; November 28, 1997

TAMPA -- Where once the standard deli reigned supreme for downtown lunch crowds, things are definitely changing. There are now bagel and sub shops, chicken joints, Italian and Spanish and Mexican eateries.

The newest entry, although claiming to be a deli, is in reality much more. Bread & Butter Deli on Franklin Street offers a hefty menu of Greek food and pastries, along with Italian, Mediterranean and American deli favorites.

Open only three weeks, Bread & Butter is already enjoying enormous success. Lines form to place a food order or pay your tab, but owner Theo Abbas says he's working on ironing out the kinks. With one Bread & Butter Deli already operating in Tarpon Springs, the strength of this new enterprise is its authentic homemade Greek specialties. One taste and you will understand the reason for the lines.

Hot dishes include spanakopita (spinach pie, $3.25), pastitsio (macaroni casserole, $3.99), stu! ffed peppers with seasoned ground beef and rice ($3.99), and stuffed grape leaves (six for $3.99). Chicken Florentine (breasts stuffed with spinach and feta cheese) and stuffed shells (both $3.99) make it even harder to choose.

We flipped after tasting the spanakopita; it was perhaps the best we've ever had. Ditto for the baklava, a nut and phyllo pastry dripping in honey.

Three or four hearty soups are made from scratch daily ($1.75 cup/$2.75 bowl). House specials are the Tomato Bisque and Chicken Lemon Soup.

The array of salads and sandwiches is enough to make your head spin. Hot sandwiches (around $4) include meat loaf, meatballs, grilled marinated chicken and chicken Parmesan. We loved the chicken Parmesan sandwich, a tender breast filet as big as your face covered in mozzarella and jammed into a fresh hoagie roll with marinara sauce.

Salad choices include chicken, tuna, shrimp and crab, Greek, pasta, potato and tomato. For a real tre! at, order the Mediterranean Platter ($4.99), which includes falafel, h ummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh and cucumber salads, grape leaves and pita bread.

The deli sandwiches are enormous. Boar's Head brand meat sandwiches (around $4) include hot or cold roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, turkey, baked ham, salami and Cubans. Before you leave the deli, head over to the adjacent pastry and coffee bar room. Here you can choose from a vast array of Greek cookies and pastries, pick up a loaf of fresh bread or purchase a bag of Greek sesame candies for your office party.

Copyright 1997 The Tribune Co. Record Number: 076