Growing up in an Italian family in New York, my diet has always been heavily influenced by the Mediterranean flavors that defined my favorite childhood meals.

But it wasn’t until I visited Greece that my palette expanded past the Adriatic Coast. I became so smitten with the vibrant flavors of Greek food that I begged, pleaded and ultimately paid a street vendor in Athens to teach me how to make authentic chicken souvlaki.

I am thankful I did because most of the Greek restaurants I tried when I returned to the United States lacked that culinary combustion of flavors that I fell in love with in Greece.

Then I visited KOVO Modern Mediterranean and it was like falling in love all over again.

It’s easy to see why KOVO, which showcases the traditional cuisines of Greece and the Mediterranean region, stands out. The restaurant is the brainchild of longtime restaurateur, Yianni Ioannou, whose roots in the industry and in the Mediterranean run deep. He grew up working in his family’s restaurant on the island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea before moving to the United States and operating Greek restaurant chains in multiple states. The menu at KOVO has been shaped by Ioannou’s time in Greek restaurants, his travels throughout the Mediterranean, as well as his Cyprian roots.

“We are excited to bring to the Valley the simple, delicious flavors and bright spices of the Mediterranean,” Ioannou says. “This area of the globe is a melting pot of cultures and culinary influences. This diversity of cuisine will be showcased at KOVO in a modern, approachable way.”

The Greek word, KOVO, means “to carve,” so it’s no wonder rotisserie meats are the star of KOVO’s deliciousness show. Selections such as lamb, beef and organic chicken are cooked vertically on the rotisserie and are carved to order. A wood-fired oven also produced crispy pizzas, such as the Napoletana, Blanca, and Della Carne, as well as other wood-fired specialties.

One of the things that made eating in Greece so special was every meal had the festive feel of Sunday dinner at my Italian grandmother’s house. And KOVO creates that same welcoming environment. For guests wishing to savor a sampling of Mediterranean cuisine, there are a wide variety of shared plates, such as house-made hummus and tzatziki, grilled eggplant and Halloumi, sheftalia (homemade Greek sausage), or grilled octopus.

One can’t miss shared selection is the Mezze Signature Carved Meat Platter, which features lamb and beef gyro, organic chicken gyro, homemade Greek sausages, and is served with tzatziki, fries, Greek salad and warm pita bread. This is as authentic a Greek experience as you will find in Phoenix. The best thing: It’s enough to feed a family after appetizers.

In addition to signature cocktails and local craft beer, KOVO also has an amazing wine menu and an assortment of homemade sweet and savory pastries, including spanakopita, baklava and bougatsa. KOVO also just launched a cannot-miss weekend brunch.

There’s only one thing left to say: “Opa!”