Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Casual Birthday Dinner…

It was my birthday and I must admit that I wasn’t too inspired… I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do or where I really wanted to go for my birthday dinner.  I thought about a movie but there wasn’t anything playing that really captured my interest. 

I finally decided that we’d take some back roads and work our way over US 321 east of Maryville toward the mountains.  I recalled that there were a couple of antique stores or malls in that direction that we hadn’t visited. 

The antique malls were a bit better than the “usual” but I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted.  I was looking for old postcards ca. 1910 or earlier with the stamp still on them and I’ve had my eye open for old airline, ship or train china, glasses or silverware.  Laurie managed to find a small table she was looking for and we did find a top notch store full of quality antiques instead of the usual ‘collectibles’. 

Despite my personal shopping failure, there was no complaining about the scenery in the foothills of the Smokys. 

For dinner, I opted to try Pero’s on the Hill in Knoxville Tennessee.  We’d been there before and had a decent pizza and I’d tried their spaghetti meat sauce which was very good indeed. 

Peroʼs on the Hill is a creation of 2 old college friends.  They met at Emory University in Atlanta and have been friends ever since.   After college, each of them chose careers in the restaurant and hospitality business.  In 2011 they opened Peroʼs on the Hill.  This popular local restaurant frequently features live music.  As a matter of fact, a musician was setting up for his performance as we finished our meal.

Pero’s is a big restaurant.  In addition to these 2 dining spaces, there is a large outdoor patio dining area.  The crowd grew steadily during our visit and it was close to capacity by the time we left at 7:30 PM on a Tuesday.

Let me start with a disclaimer… We lived in the Chicago area for many, many years.  We were definitely ‘spoiled’ when it comes to any ethnic cuisine.  Pero’s on the Hill is focused on Greek and Italian cuisine.  Both types of cooking are scarce and/or not generally terrific here in East Tennessee. 

It was my birthday and most of the appetizers were at half-price until 6:30 PM so we ordered 2 of them. (Happy Hour Specials are available Monday thru Thursday) This was the Tzatziki Dip with Pita wedges and vegetables. (normally $7.25) While it was OK, we’re used to Tzatziki Sauce with some emphasis on garlic and this was too bland for our taste.  
Like the half-price appetizers, happy hour adult beverage prices are a deal too!  Her first drink was a vodka tonic but the tonic had gone flat.  The waitress apologized and then Laurie replaced it with a glass of house Merlot. ($2.50!) I had a Miller Lite pint for only $2.00…

Our other half-price appetizer was the Triopita, baked parcels of filo pastry with a filling of feta and other cheeses. (Normally $7.20) The filo pastry was very nice and there was plenty of cheese in these ‘parcels’.  However, feta cheese is fairly distinctive and that’s why we like it.  The other cheeses used must have damped down the feta flavor and while this appetizer was OK, it was nothing to write home about. 

We also had side salads… ($2.45 each) Both salads were nice and I appreciated the fact that the waitress let me know that the Caesar Salad didn’t have anchovy in it.  Despite that fact, I still liked it…

  • The original Caesar Salad recipe did not include anchovy as an ingredient.  Finding a true Caesar Salad made ‘the old fashioned way’, with or without anchovy is a very difficult task indeed.  To learn about this classic salad, you can go to

For my entrée, I wanted to order something with that terrific meaty spaghetti sauce that I’d sampled the last time we visited Pero’s.  So I ordered the Chicken Parmesan…a hand breaded chicken breast topped with mozzarella cheese and that meat sauce.  It was accompanied with a side of spaghetti and more meat sauce. ($12.95)

It was a lot of food!  The chicken Parmesan was OK…but the Italian meat sauce was as I remembered it…one of my favorite restaurant meat sauces.  I skipped the rather unappetizing hunk of partially buttered bread.  

Laurie opted for a 10 inch Pizza with pepperoni and spicy house sausage. ($9.60) She said that it was a decent but not great pizza.  I took one bite to check out the house made sausage and I thought that it was very nice.  

The menu at Pero’s on the Hill includes a few Greek items scattered among the Italian and American standards.  These include: Gyro Wrap ($9.85); Greek Burger ($9.85); Pasticcio ($11.85), and; Souvlaki ($12.55).  By contrast, Shrimp and Grits ($12.55), a southern staple is also offered.  By far the most unusual offering is the Luther Burger. ($7.95) This celebrity burger, which was featured years back on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, consists of a bacon cheeseburger served on a grilled Krispy Kreme Donut!

After learning that it was my birthday, the waitress brought us a piece of Baklava with a candle in it along with a scoop of ice cream. (Normally $6.35) I enjoyed this bit of sweetness as a cap to dinner.  Laurie took a photo of me with the dessert but it was blurry so I inserted this photo of me tasting her glass of Merlot.
I always thought that Baklava had originated in Greece but after checking I discovered that its beginnings were in the Ottoman Empire. (Turkey) To learn more about this sweet treat, you can go to

I was stuffed beyond capacity but Laurie was more sensible and she brought home most of her pizza.  Pero’s is a fun place and it’s very popular.  The price is right and the food is plentiful.  Other than the spaghetti sauce, we thought that our variety of appetizers and entrees were a bit bland…nothing wrong with them but not to our taste.

Pero’s on the Hill is at 7706 South Northshore Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-694-6900.  The Website is at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. You're so right about food in the south. Not much ethnic food 'cause there aren't many ethnic folks here. Same for Italian and pizza. But there are an awfully lot of good reasons to retire in the South than the food, including getting away from the harsh NE winters. So cheers to you and happy birthday. You made an excellent choice on where to retire.

  2. You look great Dad! Miss you guys.

  3. I admire you for continuing to try, but I believe your search for really good ethnic food in our area is hopeless. Glad you had a nice BD.

  4. Dear Dave Wishing you a very Happy Birthday!!
    The hills of Tenn. look beautiful what nice scenery indeed.
    Blessings, Catherine