By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you think of Greek food, many of us think of that beef and lamb mixture, rotating on a spit.

Americans have a clear idea as to what a Greek gyro is. So what if we’re wrong? A Minnesotan wants to change the way you think of the gyro.

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The way Angelo Giovanis tells it, the way we’re eating gyros in Minnesota and America is all wrong.

“My parents owned restaurants in greece so i grew up in the business,” he said. “Living here for 19 years, I have never eaten a real gyro. What I mean by that is the way we have grown up in Greece.”

That’s why after a successful corporate biomed career, he opened The Naughty Greek on Snelling in St. Paul. Asked why he called it that, he laughed that that’s all “in the past.”

The first spot was so successful, Giovanis just opened a second near the light rail in St. Paul.

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“I’ve never worked harder in my life,” he said.

Making a real gyro the “Naughty” way takes great local and regional chicken and pork, and a fair amount of time. Pork is sliced 5 centimeters thin — some belly, some shoulder. The chicken is an entire bird deboned and flattened. You get dark and white meat all season and caramelized on the spit.

The payoff is in the pita. Nutmeg and oregano notes in the pork, and curry and coriander in the chicken.

The authentic obsession extends to every corner of the menu, with feta and olive oil imported from Greece for the Greek salad, with great cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. The eggplant spread is roasted with red peppers.

But it all boils down to the gyro.

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“This is home,” Giovanis said. “You get the Greeks that live here, they come to me and are like, ‘Finally, we’re actually having a real gyro, and thank you for that.'”

Jason DeRusha