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Jun 28, 2011 06:48 PM

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant in Malden

A friend told me about this place that opened up in a former pizza shop. She heard about it from a friends of hers who is Moroccan, and who said that the food was very good. I know very little about Moroccan food myself, but I went there this evening and our dinner was delicious. We also got takeout from them a few weeks ago; more about that later.

The restaurant is located on a busy street corner. There's a Haitian grocery on the same block, and some of the on-street parking is restricted until 7pm, so finding a spot can be tricky by Malden standards (but nothing like Cambridge, Boston, Somverville). The interior layout still looks like a pizza shop, but a comfy one. They have 5-6 tables with dark vinyl (leatherette? naugahyde?) tablecloths and chairs, no booths. You sit a bit above street level and the room is lined with big windows so it was a good spot for peoplewatching. Oh, and I'd say it's within walking distance from the Malden Center T station, but a longish walk - 15 minutes from the station, or 20 if you stroll.

My friend had mentioned that they didn't have everything listed on the menu, so when we went in I asked what was available tonight. Sadly, theyno longer serve couscous every day - I guess it wasn't selling - they only offer it on Fridays. So, my DC and I chose a bastilla with chicken and a lamb dish that the owner described as lamb with prunes, a little sweet with savory. Oh, and mint tea.

We sat down and she first brought us a baket with four huge wedges of homemade wheat bread, a spongy, flat loaf. the bread was served with three small dishes of relishes: roasted eggplant, roated red and green peppers, and homemade hot sauce. All were delicious. Our tea arrived in a small metal teapot with two glasses; we were instructed to let it steep for a few minutes. The tea was sweet and minty. I peeked inside the teapot and saw a bright green spring of mint curled up on top of loose tea leaves. I was pretty happy already with just the tea, bread, and relishes.

We didn't have to wait very long for our food to arrive, though my friend said she had a ~30 minute wait for her couscous. The chicken bastilla was a mixture of shredded chicken, almonds and (I think) walnuts, with some sweetish spices (cinnamon?) and a bit of something actually sweet, maybe honey. It was wrapped in a few layers of crispy phyllo dough. The taste made me think of a chicken bacalva, which is better than it sounds...The bastilla itself was big- a large disc maybe 7" across and 1-2" high? My DC and I each ate just a quarter and she took the rest home for tomorrow' dinner. The filling was warm but not hot (the phyllo crust was completely cooked, though, so I don't *think* it was underdone). We both enjoyed it.

The lamb dish was a shank, set in a plate of yummy sauce (saffron and I'm guessing black pepper, cardamom?) with whole stewed prunes, and sprinkled with small roasted whole almonds and sesame seeds. The sauce was on the salty side for my taste but I don't think it was oversalted. The lamb was verrrry tender. It was an intensely flavored and delicious dish.

We didn't have room for dessert, which was too bad because I'd heard that their pastries were very good. Total bill, including tax, for two entrees, a small pot (2 glasses) of mint tea (I guess the relishes and bread came with the entrees), was $21.50. We were the only ones there for most of the 1-1/2 hours that we sat chatting and eating, which is too bad; I really hope this place makes it. The owners were very personable and warm, and the space is oddly cozy for an old pizza shop.

Re: our takeout experience, I sent my hubby over there a few weeks ago to pick up some takeout couscous. Long story short, at noon on a Saturday they had very little of the menu available and he waited almost an hour for them to make some falafel and brochettes (they brought out some sort of sweet pastry, as an apology, for him and the boys while he waited). Then an even longer story short, said takeout traveled to from Malden out to Wellesley and then on to Reading, when we finally got to eat our lunch...even after that long trip, I thought it was pretty darned good falafel. Again, I'm no expert but the falafel was light and fresh-tasting,and not fried within an inch of its life so that all you taste is crunchy: that falafel had flavor. The pita was soft and fresh, too. I will eat it again.

So to sum up: really tasty food at a great price, comfy space, spotty availability of menu items with the potential for a long wait. If you're in a hurry and have your heart set on a particular item, this might not be the place for you.(Who knows; if you call ahead, they just might make it for you). But overall I really like it and will go again soon.

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem Street, Malden MA

Their takeout manu lists breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I think the sign on the door say they open at 9:30 am.

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

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  1. Thanks for this! Looking forward to checking it out!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      I will have to try this place, too. Nice to have an inexpensive tasty place nearby. BTW- I think I saw you last night speaking at the School Committe Meeting- Nice job!

      1. re: macca

        Eeek! Thanks, I guess! To keep it about food, has anyone been to the Brazilian grocery on Wyoming in Melrose yet? I want to support them but am not sure what should go in my Brazilian shopping basket and with the kids out of school, can't really make a leisurely stroll through.

        1. re: Chris VR

          I've been into the Brazillian market. I got some pretty good hot sauce that I like, but I have to say it seems like a pretty odd shop for melrose. The owner was very nice. A woman was in buying some jewelry and it sounded like it wasn't the first time. Maybe they have an online presence but if they are relying on walk ins I would think they would have a tough go of it.
          I wonder if this place and the new coffee tea and me are connected in any way?

      1. Thanks g1m. I was just pining for a good B'Stilla. Do you know if they also do pigeon as well as chicken? With this place, habesha and fuloon, Malden is beginning to challenge for top ethnic chow zone.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gourmaniac

          No pigeon on the menu, just the chicken bastilla and a seafood one too. They also had chicken with preserved lemon, and lahrira (soup with lentils and chickpeas) last night but there were only 2 of us, so we couldn't try everything we wanted to :-)

          I am actually surprised that Malden has so few ethnic chow choices, given our demographics (lots of first-generation immigrants). There was a nice little Moroccan market on Pleasant Street that also served wraps etc. for lunch, but they only lasted a year. There's another Moroccan market called Market Dunya that seems to be doing better - they're in the Maplewood section of town, on Lebanon Street.

          1. re: gourmaniac

            ...then again, hubby went to pick-up our sushi order from All Seaons Table tonight, and returned home with a new menu. Ethiopian food with some shawarma, shish kabob, and falafel thrown in? It's called Abiata and it must be in the space that was vacated by Olive Market (I can't think of another open space on that block). We'll have to check it out.

          2. I wonder if this is the Reef Cafe folks finally relocated? If so, the food is great!

            2 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              Reef Cafe folks switched to making Moroccan food?

              1. re: Luther

                Whoops, you're right, they are Lebanese.

            2. Interesting that they offer the same "hospitality" as at Baraka (i.e. food takes forever, have to call ahead for some things). Authentic I guess?

              Baraka Cafe
              80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139