Messina’s is a little hard to find. Head northeast along Highway 29 from the intersection of Beaver Ruin and Lawrenceville Highway. Go past the maroon sign of an Indian restaurant, pass the Hispanic place. And there it is, on the left, and hard to see. The building is much longer than it is wide, and doesn’t present a lot of face to the road. The sign is scarily short, in an age of oversized trucks and SUVs, and can’t be relied upon.

Though the AJC reviewed this restaurant in 2005 (and access Atlanta managed not to lose this review), I’m not sure it resembles the place Lori Johnston discussed after some five years. What I saw were  dark bare formica tables, showing clear signs of chipping and wear. Chairs were the inexpensive metal tube type you can pick up at Wall Mart or Target. The building seemed a little low roofed and a little small, a holdover from the days when the average home was perhaps 1,000 square feet in size. There are some nice features otherwise. The walls of the building are well maintained and the booths look nice, if a bit old. But this isn’t a place trying to win on looks.

It does seem to win the hearts of those in uniform. Two sheriffs were in the eatery when I arrived with my daughter. A gaggle of nurses soon followed.  The nurses must have ordered by phone, because soon after they sat their food arrived. Every plate I could see looked large, and the serving of fries was ample. That, at least, was an interesting sign. Otherwise, the clientèle were all over the board. Couples and singles, families, groups of men, groups of women, all combinations could be seen. Customers never filled the place, but they never stopped coming either.

I ended up ordering an Italian panini and my daughter got a gyro plate. She got fries, and I ended up with a side salad. There was very little to the side salad, just romaine lettuce and onions, and after the plain looks of the eatery and the rather plain salad, I was wondering if Messina’s was going to be a bust. Thankfully the sandwiches pushed aside that thought.

The panini I ordered was tasty, had a lot of flavor. My daughter’s gyro was huge. Half of it was about the size of my fist. She was very pleased with the taste and the sheer amount of food.

Service was decent. I can’t say it was much better than that. There were loud spills. People up front tended to be ignored at points. Staff could be slow seating people. The whole restaurant had the feeling of being a little understaffed on the day we arrived.

The cost of our meal was a nice surprise. Two of us were fed for about 14 dollars. None of what we had were the lunch specials, which were advertised at $5.25.

Verdict: Inexpensive food, with a lot of flavor. Recommended.

Messina’s Mediterranean Cuisine
4075 Lawrenceville Highway
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770) 935-9990

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