There is nothing more pleasant on a crisp autumn day than taking a little drive to a small town you've never visited. We took a short daytrip west of Macon to the hamlet of Thomaston recently and enjoyed watching all the cows and horses go by. This Georgia Main Street City has twice been chosen one of America's Best Small Towns. This jewel of a town square had a barbecue cook-off when we visited, but we opted to try out Aviano's, a family restaurant specializing in Italian and Greek food.
We were seated at one of the many banquettes along the far wall and given our menus. Even though Mediterranean foods are its specialty, Aviano's also has staples such as hot wings with bleu cheese dressing and artichoke dip. We ordered some wings and enjoyed their crispy, ungreasy texture and mild spicy heat.
Our helpful server recommended the small Greek chicken salad, which was plenty to vanquish a normal appetite. The Greek olives (which, the restaurant forewarns, have pits), feta cheese, red cabbage and pepperoncini make this an enjoyable, authentic meal. Our other Greek dish, the gyro, came with a beef/lamb mixed meat, pita bread and fries, all for $5.95 at lunchtime. A larger version can be ordered at dinner as a platter for $10.25.
Other Saturday lunch specials include a grilled chicken sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich or a grilled tenderloin, each with fries for $5.95. Weekday daily specials include cannelloni, an Italian steak sandwich, a souvlaki wrap or homemade lasagna, each for either $5.95 or $6.95.
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Dinner options not available at lunchtime are manicotti and chicken Parmesan. For $10.25, you get manicotti noodles stuffed with ricotta and other cheeses, baked in a homemade meat sauce. For $11.95, the handmade chicken Parmesan is a breaded chicken filet topped with mozzarella cheese baked in the meat sauce and served over spaghetti.
Children eat for less than $5, with the exception of that homemade lasagna. They may choose chicken strips, spaghetti with meat sauce (though the chef was kind enough to make a butter and cheese sauce for our finicky eater), cheeseburger or a pita cheese pizza. The price includes the drink, too, so you're getting a good deal.
Though the desserts are not homemade, the baklava and tiramisu were quite good. Prices range from $1.75 to $3.25, with cherry topped cheese cake as another option. After dessert, our server gave us the rest of our large lunches, and we waved goodbye.
As we drove out of Thomaston on that sunny, chilly day, we circled the town square not once, but twice. We watched the slower pace of the cook-off, the contestants laughing and trash-talking each other. Then we took one last breath of country air, and drove back to the city.
1021 U.S. 19 N.
Suite 1, Thomaston
Two and a half stars
Phone: (706) 646-3939
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon- 9 p.m. Saturday
Price range: $4-16
Payment: cash, credit card
Children's menu: yes
Vegetarian selections: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Noise level: low
Health Rating: 97