817 West Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Nova Grill is the Chipotle of Mediterranean food. Which I think is something that would be a welcome addition to the current landscape of walk-up counter service for fresh, reasonably priced meals.
The setup is basically the same, pick a salad, sandwich, or platter and customize it however you like.
They offer gyro meat from the spit (shawarma) as well as skewered and grilled chicken, though I couldn’t shake the feeling that the they were lying when they told me that the chicken they were tonging out of a chafing tray was actually from the rotating spit in the background. Something about not seeing them actually do it is questionable.
The five free toppings stack up quickly, but there is a pretty decent variety of fresh ingredients and colorful salads/reslishes from which to choose.
I tried the chicken sandwich first. The meat was well seasoned, and placed on top of the ingredients, a departure from the standard meat-on-the-bottom.
I went for the cabbage slaw, seasoned feta, kalamata olives, pickled onions, and harissa. It was a solid sandwich, and definitely one I would likely eat on the regular if I were to find myself in or around Villanova for an extended period of time. The pita is served warm, and wrapped up right, tucking in all of the generous components.
As you can see, there was quite a bit going on with this sandwich, and it was more like eating a big Mediteranean-style salad with chicken than a standard chicken gyro, which I was okay with.
The vegetarian platter came with an abundance of sides, including chickpea salad, baba ghanoush, hummus, cucumber salad, rice, and cylindrical, torpedo-like falafel. Everything was pretty tasty, with nothing being mind-blowing, but a solid rendition of a veggie platter.
The falafel was also good, though not as crispy and hot as I would have wished, but not too bad either.
There was a healthy smattering of parsley in there to keep the flavor fresh.
The spreads and the salads were all about par for the course - hummus on the left and baba on the right. Even with all of the combined ingredients, there wasn't any bold stand-out flavor in any of the components, they all sort of ran together. Save for the hot sauces on the side (see below).
Speaking of hot sauce, their green harissa was insanely hot. I couldn’t get enough.
They also offer a bowl version of most items on the menu, which I (well, someone in the group) also ordered. Alas, as anticipated, I was not thrilled. It was all of the same ingredients, in a lackluster bowl format. You know what it was missing? Pita. I guess if you're still on Atkins, then this is the choice for you. Definitely not for me.
Props for doing their part in considering the environment.
The NOVA Grill is a pretty good place to great a healthy(ish) quick meal for a reasonable price. The variety of options they offer are greatly appreciated and I feel it is a quality meal for what it is. It was basically exactly what I was expecting, and there is comfort to be had in that.