Crisp-skinned chicken tabaka that’s smashed flat and carpeted with garlic has long been a feature of Russian menus around town, as have the charcoal kebabs called mtsvadi or shaslik, and khinkali — bulging, purse-shaped dumplings teeming with lamb, pork, cheese, or potatoes. All three come from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, but it wasn’t until more recently that restaurants exclusively dedicated to Georgian food began to appear in New York, first in Brighton Beach, but later in Bensonhurst, Midwood. Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Murray Hill, and the Upper East Side.
These newer Georgian places, which burgeoned after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, introduced New Yorkers to a dozen more key dishes. But none could quite match our growing affection for khachapuri, a unique bread boat with handles, molten cheese, an egg yolk, and butter in its reservoir — all meant to be stirred before eating. And soon other dishes like walnut-sauced cold vegetables, kebabs cooked over charcoal, several sorts of beans, cornbread, and stews fragrant with fresh herbs become favorites, too.
Many of the early Brighton Beach pioneers like Kavkaz and Georgia 21 are long closed, but here are nearly a dozen great places to relish Georgian cuisine today.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.Read More