Vlora on Boylston has been open for several months, and I have been 3 times now, as I live and work in the Back Bay. All 3 times were for lunch. I think their dinner menu is over-priced, but they have some tasty and amazingly cheap options for lunch.
I've enjoyed the grilled veg. wrap, the watermelon w/ feta tidbit ($5.95!), the sauteed zucchini w/ garlic yogurt (also $5.95!), and the greek salad. They also have cheap home-made pasta options... but I've been trying to be 'good' lately.
So, I love it as a lunch spot (and it's awesome to have an option other than the Globe for a sit-down, inexpensive lunch on that stretch of Boylston St.), but I'm not sure of what to make of it in general.
It's huge, and very sleekly decorated, but it's always empty, and I'm not sure why-- considering the great prices!? The last time I was there, there was more wait-staff then there were customers... they were just walking around re-shining silverware and glasses at these huge tables that never seem to be filled.
I think it has a lot to do with it's below street-level location, and the sign!! I have HATED the sign ever since they opened. They are aiming for elegant, but have this awful blue and orange sign that reminds me a tanning salon every time see it. Any designers out there interested in helping them design a better one?
So- have you been to Vlora? What do you think?
By all means, try Vlora at lunch.
We, (SO and 10 yr. old) stumbled upon it back in April, while we were walking around Back Bay. The previous poster who said that their sign looks like a tanning salon is correct. We never would have discovered it had we not been walking and seen the posted menu.
The watermelon/feta appetizer is delicious, but you shouldn't leave without trying the fork-tender octopus. This is hands-down the most delicious octopus I have ever tasted -- sweet, clean, the slightest char on the outside, and fork-tender as advertised. The first time I ordered it, my 10 yr. old daughter exclaimed "yuck! Octopus?" but deigned to taste a bite, and then proceeded to eat 2/3 of my appetizer. Alas, it is only one tentacle. I only wish they served it in an entree portion.
She still talks about her chicken served on a "cloud of mashed potatoes", my salmon was delicious (if a bit of a letdown after the sublimeness of the octopus), and my husband got a sandwich which doesn't appear on the regular menu (it included imported mortadella), and the fries which came with it were also terrific.
I have no idea what the nighttime crowd is like (I have heard the stories from last New Year's) but this discovery was a real treat for lunch.
I hadn't been to Vlora until yesterday. I recently started working in the Hancock Tower (used to work in the financial district). The area around the Hancock Tower is really lacking in quick takeout lunch spots in my opinion. I popped into Vlora yesterday at lunchtime and ordered their Greek Peasant salad. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it was. My salad was ready to go within minutes of my paying (I was going to run an errand and come back after to pick up). The salad was really good and fresh. It was much like the Greek salads I had when in Greece with lots of fresh vegetables, a nice non-crumbled hunk of feta and good olive oil and lemon (it had dill instead of oregano and a bit of romaine). I really enjoyed it and will certainly pop over there to grab lunch again soon.
I've had a few enjoyable dinners there, despite the notoriety of that one incident, which I suspect duly chastened the owners. It threatened their beer/wine license, without which any Back Bay restaurant is effectively sunk.
Very good Albanian and Greek dishes, less interesting Italian ones, excellent side dishes. Unusual and kinda cool atmosphere, heightened by crowds of young, dressed-to-impress Albanian-Americans on weekend nights. Much more interesting and a better value than many places in the neighborhood. I've been meaning to revisit.