PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If you’re walking on Southeast Belmont Street in Portland, you might smell fresh pita bread being made at a new restaurant in town.

Bluto’s, owned by the same creators of Grassa and Lardo, is a Greek inspired restaurant offering an assortment of food, such as seasonal salads, hummus and soft serve yogurt. The restaurant also has a wood fired kitchen for fans of fresh bread.

Rick Gencarelli, a co-owner of Bluto’s, said it’s a new concept compared to his other ventures – a sandwich shop and pasta restaurant.

“The things that excite me about this food is that it’s all the things I want to eat,” said Gencarelli. “And hopefully there’s people out there that want to try.”

Why Greek inspired food?

Gencarelli said his business partner married a woman from Greece and added that she still has family that lives in the country.

He recalled joking with his business partner about opening a Greek restaurant but that soon turned into reality after the pair found a space on Southeast Belmont for Bluto’s to call home.

“This space presented itself, and it was instantly just sort of spoke to us. It seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Gencarelli, who noted its well-known sandwich shop — Lardo — first opened as a food cart in the same neighborhood.

Despite the new concept, Gencarelli said his team decided to stick with the counter service model offered at their other restaurants in the area.

“Anytime there’s a counter, I think that immediately the bar is set a little low because there just seems to be a sort of pre-determined idea that the food is going to be quick, and it’s not going to be great. But I think that’s what makes Bluto’s so special is that we’re going to over deliver,” he explained.

Opening a restaurant can be tough in general but especially during a pandemic.

Gencarelli remembers experiencing labor shortages with his other restaurants and but “didn’t mind the extra time to open” when supply chain issues were a problem.

He hopes Oregon dropping its indoor mask requirement by March 31 will also drive some more dine-in customers.

“We’re also doing a lot of takeout for a brand-new restaurant is difficult because we’re still trying to figure out how everything works on plates,” said Gencarelli.

Whether it be takeout or dine-in, Gencarelli hopes fans of Grassa and Lardo will give Bluto’s a chance to forge its own path in the community.

“The amount of time that Lardo and Grassa have been part of the food scene here – I think that will definitely help give us a little credibility. … (They) already have a little bit of trust built into the other concepts that we do,” he said.

Bluto’s is located at 2838 S.E. Belmont St., in Portland.