A Mediterranean Medley at Grillera in Madison

For lunch or dinner, this restaurant offers a range of distinguished dishes.

Mixed appetizer platter. Photo courtesy of Grillera

Just outside Madison’s downtown strip sits Grillera Mediterranean Cuisine, a sizeable restaurant serving kebabs, fresh pita and mezze, and other flavorful Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties. I’ve driven past it many times going to and from Madison, and last month decided to finally stop in for dinner.

My friend and I arrived on the early side on a weekday, and as such were one of a few people in the restaurant, which is decorated nicely and much larger inside than it appears from the parking lot.

We started with the small mixed appetizer platter ($20), featuring lebni, sautéed eggplant, baba ganoush, hummus, sautéed spinach, a zesty pepper dip, and a chilled kidney bean salad. A basket of fresh, warm pita bread was served alongside it, though we ran out of pita before we could finish everything on the tray. Of the seven options, our favorites included the creamy hummus and the silky and smoky baba ganoush, which we agreed we could eat with a spoon, no pita necessary.

Lamb shish. Photo courtesy of Grillera

For entrées, my companion decided on the lamb shish ($22), grilled tenderloin cubes of marinated lamb served with rice, a grilled tomato and a fresh red cabbage salad. I ordered a style of kebab dish I had never tried, lamb shish with yogurt ($25). The same cubes of marinated lamb were instead served over sautéed and buttered cubes of white bread that were topped with a tangy yogurt. Half a grilled tomato and a sliver of grilled green pepper were served on the side. We both found the lamb to be tender and juicy, though I think next time I’d prefer it to be served over rice instead of bread cubes, which were too filling and heavy.

On a return visit, I’d explore other parts of the menu. The pide, sort of like a Turkish pizza, looked interesting, and could be topped with three different types of cheese. The seafood section of the menu includes grilled shrimp, branzino, salmon and tilapia. We didn’t have any ourselves, but the baklava on a neighboring table appeared to be wonderfully sweet and flaky.

In addition to the Madison spot, Grillera has another location in West Orange. Both locations offer a set lunch special for $13.25. It’d be a wise time to dine.

Grillera Mediterranean Cuisine, 91 Park Avenue, Madison, 973-301-2080. BYO

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