Clay Oven specializes in meats and pizzas. “The meats are cooked through the night and are ready to serve the next day. The process is slow, but the results are amazing,” said Theresa Taoushiani, a native of Greece who owns the restaurant with her husband, Zack, who was born in Cyprus.
Meats such as lamb, pork, chicken, beef and spareribs are seasoned with a blend of special spices and fresh herbs and cooked to a delectable “fall-off-the-bone texture.” Oven-roasted Greek potatoes and another side — such as horta (a blend of black-eyed peas and collard greens with lemon and olive oil), fresh green beans with tomatoes and onions or a Greek salad served with Theresa’s homemade dressing — accompany the entree.
“These dishes in Greek are known as kleftiko, which means stolen,” Theresa said.
She explained that Clay Oven took its name from olden days when peasants stole lambs from farmers. They would build a clay oven in the ground to cook the meat overnight without being detected and collect their dinner the next day.
Theresa and Zack started the original Clay Oven Restaurant when they lived in South Africa, and ran it for more than 30 years. “It was a landmark, like you say the Big Chicken. Everyone knew where Clay Oven was. Now it has been brought to Marietta — the art of making everything fresh and baked in the clay oven,” Theresa said. (She and Zack formerly owned Bailey’s Diner in Powder Springs.)
“The oven is Zack’s passion and he is the master of meats cooked in the clay oven. A lot of the South Africans living here in Atlanta remember the Clay Oven back home and had their family functions there when growing up. We hope to achieve the same friendly restaurant here with great food, great atmosphere and friendly staff,” Theresa said.
In addition to its selection of traditional Greek and Mediterranean dishes such as spanakopita, hand rolled dolmathes and calamari (to name only a few), the restaurant serves pizza made by Dominic Neopolitano, who grew up in New York. A variety of Italian and Greek pastas, such as spaghetti, and dishes such as moussaka, are also on the menu.
“Our pizzas are a work of art. The dough is a family recipe of Dominic’s which has been used over the years. All the ingredients are fresh and the pizzas are made from scratch. Nothing is premade,” Theresa said.
“So here we are, come and visit. You won’t be sorry. As we say, ‘OPA!’ Come enjoy and have fun. Don’t be in a rush as everything is made fresh and to order. Everything is delicious,” Theresa said.
Clay Oven, at 1115 Powder Springs St. in Marietta (where Spikes Pizza was formerly located), is open Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit clayovensrestaurant.com or follow them on Facebook.