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The Dish: Messina's Mediterranean Cuisine

Staff Photo: Deanna Allen. Popular menu selections at Messina's include the Greek salad, front, the Messina's Combo pizza made with feta cheese, ground gyro, sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and extra cheese, and the appetizer spanakopita, back left, phyllo pies stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. Messina's also offers more than 40 Greek and Mediterranean wines to complement its Mediterranean dishes.

Staff Photo: Deanna Allen. Popular menu selections at Messina's include the Greek salad, front, the Messina's Combo pizza made with feta cheese, ground gyro, sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and extra cheese, and the appetizer spanakopita, back left, phyllo pies stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. Messina's also offers more than 40 Greek and Mediterranean wines to complement its Mediterranean dishes.

4075 Lawrenceville Highway N.W., Lilburn 770-935-9990

• Open since: 1995 as Kalamata and since 2005 as Messina's Mediterranean Cuisine

• Pasta purse alfredo - Cheese-filled pasta purses in a creamy alfredo sauce with roasted red peppers, $7.95

• Veggie gyro - Black and green olives, grilled onions and mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and tzaziki sauce, $5.35

• Messina's hamburger - A half-pound of ground beef with grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard, $5.95

• Mixed grill - Lamb chops, grilled chicken and souvlaki served with Greek potatoes and a Greek salad, $18.95

• Location: Messina's is off the stretch of Lawrenceville Highway that runs between Beaver Ruin Road and Pleasant Hill Road.

• Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and open 30 minutes later, until 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

• Owners: Roozy Dehgahi, now 29, started working at the Greek restaurant Kalamata in Lilburn as a dish washer while attending Parkview High School. In 2005, he and his brother, Shah, now 24, took over the business and renamed it Messina's after the small Italian city. The duo expanded the menu to include Italian dishes as well as Persian-inspired daily specials and continue to oversee the daily operations.

• Atmosphere: Messina's is a small but bright place where the interior is divided into two dining areas. The one to the left upon entering the restaurant leads to the bar and offers regular table seating. On the right is the main dining area, where regular table and booth seating are provided. A large patio area outside offers an outdoor seating option.

• Menu: Messina's Mediterranean Cuisine serves up primarily Greek and Italian fare.

Greek dishes include the traditional dolmades — grape leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat topped with a lemon sauce — and the moussaka plate — baked eggplant, a meat sauce and potatoes topped with a béchamel sauce.

Italian selections range from spaghetti and fettuccine alfredo to lasagna and cheese ravioli.

Popular menu selections include the appetizer spanakopita — phyllo pies stuffed with spinach and feta cheese — the Greek salad made with fresh iceberg and romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onions, feta cheese, kalamata olives and Greek peppers, and the gyro souvlaki — gyro meat (lamb and beef) and souvlake (pork tenderloin) served with Greek potatoes, a Greek salad, pita bread and tzaziki sauce.

The Messina's Combo is the most popular pizza selection with feta cheese, ground gyro, sausage, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and extra cheese.

Messina's offers daily specials from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. including salads, wraps, pasta dishes, pizza and paninis.

For dessert, Messina's offers the traditional Greek treats of baklava and galaktoboureko, custard between layers of phyllo pastry. Final courses that are Italian-inspired include cannolis and tiramisu.

Shah Dehgahi has crafted a wine menu of more than 40 red and white Greek and Mediterranean wines to complement the Greek and Italian fare. Messina's also offers bottled and draft beers as well as sodas, tea and water.

• Things you might not know: Messina's hosts belly dancing the first Saturday of every month.