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Posted: July 1, 2009 12:16 p.m.

Buy local...Mama Maria's Italian Grill

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Costa Charitos warmly greets a couple entering the door; his enthusiasm infusing the restaurant he owns and operates. Charitos moves from table to table visiting with customers, asking about the food, about the service and about life.

Charitos personality meshes with Covington, a city he came to because of its kind, helpful people. Charitos opened Mama Maria's Italina Grill in January, but already he's gained a cadre of loyal customers.

"We've come here once a week every week since it's opened. Every dish we've tried we like," customer Jeri Cleveland said, her husband Gaylord agreeing with her.
"I can sum it up in three phrases," Gaylord added, "good food, good service and good prices."

Mama Maria's serves American, Greek and Italian cuisine, a unique mix that offers something for the whole family. When asked to pick out his specialties, Charitos had trouble choosing just a few and ended up listing most of the menu; his customers have a similar problem when asked to pick their favorite meal.

"It's all been good," frequent customer Angie Day said. "I'm trying to work my way through the menu. I've been telling everybody I know about it."

The large menu contains appetizers, salads, burgers, calzones, strombolis, pastas, chicken, veal, gyros, souvlaki, steaks, seafood, subs, pitas, desert and a children's menu. The price ranges from $7 to $13 for the majority of meals.

Mama Maria's has a 65-seat banquet area, which can be rented out for special events. In addition, the restaurant has patio seating, several flat-screen TVs and a full bar, which offers a wide variety of mixed drinks, wine and beer. On Thursdays local artist Thomas Tillman plays his guitar outside on the patio providing free, family-friendly live entertainment.

The Charitos family has been in the restaurant business for nearly 50 years and owns a handful of different restaurants in the Atlanta area. Costa, who works with co-owners Ike Georgi and Theo Lombro, said Mama Maria's is a unique addition to the Covington and Atlanta communities.

"We have good food and good service," Costa said. "I try to make sure everybody leaves happy every time."


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