Thessaloniki: street art and crumpled napkins at a Neighborhood Pita Shop Vlasti
Βλάστη is small, almost the definition of a neighborhood-only spot for pita. Its bright red door and surrounding street art mark its corner, a loud welcome to a quiet interior. It’s not old — the shop opened in 1993 — but the lettering on the sign leads one to believe that this shop has been open longer than the neighborhood has surrounded it.
Inside, the same holds true. The silver pans in the case are blackened with use, and as we stood there looking, a new pan of was placed in, straight from the oven. The case has three shelves, but because we were there after noon, only two of them held pans, one with five trays and the other with one. All the trays were at least half empty: get there early on the weekends, before it’s all gone. Some patrons came in and walked out carrying what looked to be entire trays of pita, but because I was only with one other person, we opted for individual slices.
The teenage boy working the case spoke some English, which was helpful, but know that these pies need little explanation. We ordered three: the politika [with feta, kaseri, fresh tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes], the pastourma, and a traditional tiropita. All three were wrapped in aluminum foil to go, but we sat at a table outside to eat them, impatient, yes, but also ready to sit and enjoy spring sunshine with breakfast.
The politika tasted like pizza with its dusting of oregano across the top, but better, with layers of dough and the slight vinegar tang from the sun-dried tomatoes. The tiropita, with more filo than the politika, held pockets of cheese. It was not disappointing, as it gave the chance to enjoy the homemade filo dough, a slightly chewy texture in an obvious strata of layers throughout. And the pastourma was much the same as the politika, though in place of tomatoes were pieces of pastourma, a smoky contrast to the cheeses.
According to sources, the shop does offer sweet pies, though again, it is advised to arrive earlier to see a full array of options. We were not unsatisfied by our options; really, we were more than happy with our choices, but to end the meal on something sweet would not have been unwelcome.
All that was left at the end of our meal was crumpled, greasy napkins and balls of aluminum foil, bits of evidence that Βλάστη is worth searching out.