- The Place
Located in the clubhouse overlooking Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut, Grazie Wood Fired Grille may look like a swanky, exclusive restaurant with its marble countertops, beautiful window views, and sleek, bright red meat slicer.
Lucky for you, membership is not required.
The owners of Four Oaks opened Grazie in August, intending for it to be an affordable yet high-quality destination for anybody to visit -- from golfers just coming in from the 18th hole to families just looking for a nice bite on Tuesday night.
What's the point of having a cool open kitchen (featuring a massive wood-burning oven from Naples that cooks pizzas in 90 seconds) if everybody can't enjoy it?
- The People
Co-owner Tina Niarhos said her husband Peter (who makes his living as a dentist in Dracut) has been talking about opening an Italian restaurant for 34 years. Niarhos and her husband own the golf course with their partners Mike and Cindy Kuenzler.
"He's (Peter) the most brilliant person I know," said Niarhos. "He's had all these specific ideas about the restaurant that have really made it as great as it can be."
He insisted on getting an Argentinian wood-burning grill for the open kitchen, designed to give the meat a nice smoky flavor.
The Niarhoses also instituted a "five-foot rule" with their staff: anytime anyone is within five feet of a customer, the staff member has to acknowledge them and see if there's any way he or she can help.
Tina personally checks in on every table -- multiple times. And if she's not there to do it, one of her three kids (Alexandra, 24, Jacquelyn, 19, or Costas, 17) will.
- The Food
Executive chef Beni Kurti created a menu chock-full of dishes inspired from his native Italy, starting with the thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas like the popular Bella Napoli, which features Buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.
For pasta lovers, you can try a half-order (or, if you're up to it, a full one) of the house-made potato gnocchi, or even the pumpkin ravioli if you're lucky to find it on special.
Or you can just get a steak -- your choice: 8 or 10-oz. filet mignon, a boned-in ribeye, or a hanger steak served with hand-cut steak fries.
- The Cost
Half-dish pastas go for around just $10, while the full plates are about $16. Apps (like the two "dueling meatballs" -- one topped with ricotta, one with burrata) go from $8 to $12, and pizzas are about $14.
On Mondays, kids can eat free when their parents buy an adult meal, and Grazie is offering half-price apps from 3 to 6 p.m. throughout the winter. It may be too cold to golf, but it's never to cold to go to Grazie.
For information on Grazie, visit fouroakscountryclub.com/restaurant.
Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.