Jersey City, where I grew up, has become a dining destination. While I have fond memories of the Canton Garden, Greenspans, Miss America Diner (still open), downtown Jersey City, which we never ventured to in those days, now has many neighborhood gems. One we recently discovered is Dolma on Grand Street.
This is a very small, 22-seat BYO restaurant so be sure to make a reservation. The limited menu is interesting with Eastern Mediterranean dishes offered, such as baked eggplant and feta; grilled octopus; spinach and feta borek teamed mussels and cockles in a fennel and raki broth with spicy Turkish sausage; and grilled fenugreek rubbed lamb chops.
We started with a rich, red, cold beet soup with a dollop of crème fraiche topped with a sprig of dill. Cloves added another layer of taste and aroma to this generous portion which was split for us in the kitchen. The juicy lamb kibbeh (lamb and whole wheat bulgur meatballs) sat on a smear of spicy harissa and were topped with a refreshing yogurt-cucumber sauce.
Sardines, a favorite of Lowell’s, was a no brainer as this item is not often seen on menus. Three fish topped with a charred lemon were prepared wrapped with grape leaves and filled with a stuffing made with rice, pine nuts and black currents. Greens with fennel and pomegranate were a well matched companion; a perfectly prepared entrée.
Lamb mousakka was a much lighter version of this dish than we have had in Greek restaurants. A tomato lamb sauce was used between layers of grilled eggplant, potatoes and kashkaval and pecorino, both sheep’s milk cheeses. It was scrumptious. We were stuffed and bypassed the two desserts offered: baklava with crème fraiche, which is brought in, and crème brulee, which is made on the premises.
If you decide to dine at this hidden neighborhood restaurant look for a stand alone pink/coral building with a patio that is easy to miss unless someone told you about it. That someone is me. Enjoy!
270 Grand St
Stuffed sardines wrapped in grape leaves.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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