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Pirosmani for Georgian?

  • t

Whoops, accidentally posted this on the Manhattan board. I'm wondering how Pirosmani waaaaay out on Avenue U is. I'd like to show some friends the wonders of Georgian food, but don't know quite where to find it. Coming from Brooklyn, this looks like a relatively manageable trek.
Gmadlobt,
The Wanderingju

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Pirosmani
2222 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

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  1. It's the best Georgian in NYC. That being said, it's pretty good, but not mind-blowingly great in the way that Georgian food can be. Good kinkhali, OK lobio, etc. Worth the schlep.

    24 Replies
    1. re: nikita

      Agreed. I'm still waiting for a place as good as the old CAfe Pearl for Georgian.

      Tblisi (811 Kings Highway (between 8&9) used to be pretty good, but it's been a while since I was there. Have you been there lately, Nikita?

      1. re: Jim Leff

        Haven't been there for a while, but from what I remember, it came across as Georgian food cooked by Russians. More heavy-handed, a little humorless. But again, it's been a while.

        1. re: Nikita

          Interesting comment, thanks. Is this a common thing? i.e., "ethnic food" cooked by/for russians (the way Pakistanis sometimes cook fake Afghan food)?

          What's clearly needed is some serious revisiting to the old places and hunting around for new ones. Great cuisine, it deserves to be better tracked.

          ciao

          1. re: Jim Leff

            I don't know, quite frankly--I haven't been to enough Georgian restaurants outside of Georgia to see if there's a parallel to the Pak/Afghan phenomenon. And the people in the kitchen at Tbilisi back then could very well have been Georgians on a bad night (though the front-end staff was speaking Russian).

            I have encountered Russians who insist that if you can make pelmeni, you can make varenyki (and Ukrainians that get into a tizzy when they hear this), and by extension khinkali. Georgians will probably argue that it takes a distinctly Caucasian soul to make proper Georgian food, regardless of your deft handling of fenugreek, marigold, etc.

            That being said, some of the best tkemali I ever had was made by Crimean Tatars!

            Definitely agree that the old places need to be revisited and new ones sought out...

            1. re: Nikita

              Give us the details on Crimena Tatar food. Please.

              1. re: Ivan Stoler

                Crimean Tatars serve a lot of dishes that are similar to Uzbek fare, like cheburek and plov. This is in part due to the fact that they had their origins in Central Asia, and more recently in part thanks to a Georgian, Iosef Djugashvili (Stalin), who deported in Crimean Tatars en masse in 1944.

                Along with the Central Asian dishes, there's some more Turkish-leaning things, like gubadia, a meat pie with currants, and a similar version with chicken. They embrace the full spectrum of manti, from Western/Turkish (small) to Eastern/Uzbek (big). And of course, shashlik. I heard that in theory, wine is verboten but vodka is OK (not sure of the reasoning behind this), but in practice it seemed either all or nothing.

                1. re: Nikita

                  As you move around that area of the world, my mental image of the food is that it's a smear of Turkish (most of all), Russian, Balkan, and Persian (and lots more), and that the cuisines are more alike than different (e.g. Georgian and Azerbeijan are really similar). Sort of like Central American and northern South American, where slightly different things have the same name and slightly differently named things taste the same. The diffs are mere dialect.

                  Your post seems to validate this, I think; and I'm glad because I've never been sure if my smear assessment is actually correct, or just a result of having tasted it all here a hemisphere away.

                  I'm also guessing that some of the diffs between Central Asian food and what we think of as Turkish food may actually be because the area retains older versions of Turkish food that are no longer considered Turkish (like the Penn. Dutch preserve German culture from centuries ago).

                  If you can tell me where to get Georgian (or, for that matter, Armenian) pomegranate wine, I'd be eternally grateful.

                  Moderators, we're still on the verge of talking about Brooklyn (it could reference specific places again as we move ahead), so I'm not yet suggesting a jump to General Topics.

                  ciao

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    In Rego Park try B+B Liquors @ 99-12 63 Rd, just off Queens Blvd West, before the LIE. I know they have Moldovian + Georgian Wines, but what you asked for, who knows?

                    1. re: IVAN STOLER

                      Ivan, great store to know about (I had no idea), thanks, but this stuff won't be found in normal retail channels. It's one of the rarest and most difficult-to-make products imagineable. They've got to peel each pomegranate seed. It's a holy grail I've been searching for for years....

                      ciao

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        I've never seen the stuff in any Queens or Brighton liquor shop- it's as elusive as chacha! However, if you're willing to make a roadtrip to the Winston-Salem WholeFoods, you can find your Holy Grail there:

                        Link: http://www.journalnow.com/servlet/Sat...

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Went to B+B Liquors last night. It's about 3-4 blocks East of Queens Blvd. They have a big selection of Georgian Wines, but no P wine. Sorry Jim. They even had the brand of Georgian wines that are bottled in what looks like ceramic bottles w/the cool Georgian Script. I bought 1 Geogian wine, and 2 Moldavan wines. I've been jonesing for Moldavan wines for ages, due to my infactuation w/the stories of Isaac Babel. They also had a selction of Ukrainian wines, from the Crimea. It seems as if most of these wines (Ga, Moldova, Crimea) are sweet, not dry. Well, I'm gonna check em all out these weekend. Hope my pals are up being the guinea pigs.

                            1. re: Ivan Stoler

                              Ivan, sounds like great fun. PLEASE post tasting notes (on General Topics...and, if you have time, a "heads up" here pointing to that posting)

                              ciao

                    2. re: Jim Leff

                      You're pretty much spot-on with the smear (schmear?)idea, though I have to say that Georgian food stands out as remarkably unique. I never encounter grits and kachapuri outside of the region, for instance.

                      Tomorrow I head out to Central Asia, so I'll report back on your Penn. Dutch theory...

                2. re: Nikita

                  Nikita, again, interesting message. I'm not surprised that the waiters are Russian in a Georgian place...there aren't enough Georgians to fill out such jobs. In fact, in that part of Brooklyn, it's extremely common to find Ukranians waitering in Pakistani places, Chinese in Italian, etc. I've learned not to judge anything by the wait staff!

                  Great posting, I"m always glad to see someone with a real chowhoundish soul. Plesae keep posting (and on more than just Georgian).

              2. re: Nikita

                That is hilarious! Be careful with such comments, though. I've known some Georgians that would take mortal offense at being labelled russian in any way. I once made the mistake of simply thanking some Georgian hosts in russian, and it caused a very tense moment at the dinner table.

                Link: http://thebigmouth.blogspot.com

                1. re: a&w

                  Thread revival time! Some friends and I went to Pirosmani a few weeks ago. It was outstanding.

                  We ate:

                  Badrijani, eggplant filled with walnut paste, was a great first impression of Georgian cuisine. The paste was mixed with herbs as well as chunks of walnuts for a nice crunch, and the combination of nuts and eggplants complemented each other well.

                  Shortly thereafter, the "big" salata arrived (apparently salad is a word that crosses all types of linguistic boundaries). Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and a touch of dill. How can that be bad?

                  Shoti's puri, a long, thin bread that looks like it swallowed a football was awesome. Crusty and buttery, while taming the honey pepper vodka and sweet wine churning in my stomach.

                  Lobio nigzvet, beans with walnut sauce, provided a nice contrast to the other dishes, with the kidney beans tasting very fresh.

                  At first glance, tarragon soda looked like the classic Hi-C Ecto Cooler inspired by Ghostbusters, but even through my hazy childhood memories that drink tasted much better. You know how recipes recommend using tarragon in moderation? Well this drink craps on that advice. The black licorice aftertaste of the neon green soda was just too much for me.

                  Soon, the khatchapuris started to arrive, cheese and bread combinations that Georgians are known for. The Imeruli khatchapuri looked like a white pizza, but pick it up and you can see the massive amounts of butter buried underneath. Inside is suguni, a cow's milk cheese that tasted like a combination of a weak feta and ricotta. While good, it was hard to eat more than one buttery slice. My Georgian speaking friends were disappointed, telling us that they had eaten much better versions.

                  All disappointment evaporated when the Atcharuli khatchapuri was placed before us. A hollowed out buttery, crusty loaf, filled with cheese and topped with a raw egg and more butter. I don't think you can make something more perfectly decadent than this khatchapuri. What more could you possibly want? What more could you possibly need?

                  It left me speechless. Best dish of the night. Over two weeks later, I am still dreaming about it.

                  It was after the khachapuri when the alcohol started to get to me. Khinkali, filled with beef, pork and broth were like Georgian soup dumplings. The goal is apparently to not lose any of the broth. I failed miserably by sending an explosion of it over my plate (blame the vodka).

                  Things were getting hazy by the time the Mtsvadi, or lamb and pork skewers, arrived. The kebabs had an excellent char and was complemented the sourness of the sweet plum sauce. The sauce also helped the fries, which were a little weak and undersalted on their own.

                  Full post is at: www.lawandfood.blogspot.com

                  I would go back for the atcharuli khachapouri alone. Fantastic. Take a look at the picture attached, but there's more on the full post.

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                  Pirosmani
                  2222 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

                   
                  1. re: ChiefHDB

                    Hi, all. Thanks for all these suggestions; it totally helped inform the work I did for CHOW when researching a piece on khachapuri. Check it out if you're curious: http://www.chow.com/digest/72306/gooe...

                    Best,
                    Alex Van Buren
                    Contributing Editor, New York

                      1. re: ChiefHDB

                        Thanks, Chief! I specifically sought out Pirosmani to try the Atcharuli Khachapuri. You were right: Such an excellent dough and cheese. But the egg was totally raw and didn't cook on top of the bread-- wasn't hot enough-- so I left there feeling a bit oogy. I'm a wuss, I know.

                        Let me know what you think if you check out Georgian Bread. ..

                        avb

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                        Pirosmani
                        2222 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

                        Georgian Bread
                        265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                        1. re: alexvb

                          Oooh that's too bad. Did you break it up and mix it in with the cheese? That definitely helps. I had it at Tbilisi too-- also a very good version, but I think I liked Pirosmani's better (however, most everything else at Tbilisi except for the breads was superior).

                          Georgian Bread has been on my list for so long that I really don't have an excuse to not go ASAP.

                          Great video btw.

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                          Pirosmani
                          2222 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

                          Georgian Bread
                          265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                          1. re: ChiefHDB

                            Yep, I ate at Tbilisi, too, and they microwaved the bread the first time. The second time it was good, but I felt that I was missing out on the Platonic Ideal of Khachapuri, if that makes sense. Pirosmani's was closer... but it was odd: In your pic the whites look cooked, the yolk runny. That would have been awesome. But on mine the whites were clear-- and they didn't cook when they were mixed with the cheese, which maybe wasn't hot enough. So I got that really bizarre uncooked egg-white sensation, and not in an awesome creamy carbonara way, but in a blargh way.

                            And hey, thanks. It's thanks to threads like these that I am able to do them, so you can take some credit for this one!

                            Cheers,
                            Alex

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                            Pirosmani
                            2222 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11229

                            1. re: alexvb

                              Damn. Microwaved? That's unfortunate.

                              I've waited too long. I think I need to go to Georgian Bread tomorrow afternoon.

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                              Georgian Bread
                              265 Neptune Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

                    1. re: ChiefHDB

                      I was intrigued by the NYMag review of Mtskheta Cafe a couple months ago, and wanted to make a family trek out for wintery night Georgian feasting. Someone on another thread said it wasn't so great, and the review was way overblown. I was looking into Pirosmani as an alternative, but some reviews on Yelp said something about a $35 per person minimum, and having to pay for music (even if you don't request anything?), and major delays in service. Does that match up to your experience? The food sounds great, but cohorts can be picky about service...

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                      Mtskheta Cafe
                      2568 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11214