I LOVE Greek food. I’m not referring to the diner-variety gyro (pronounced “year-o”, with a roll of the “r”, NOT Gi-ro!!) I am referring to traditional Greek dishes served taverna style, with lots of fresh fish and seafood, olive oil, lemon and herbs. Around these parts, this type of cuisine is nearly non-existent. STAMNA, however, which is half of an hour from my house but worth the trip, is a cozy, well-priced, humble storefront spot in a rather sparse stretch of Bloomfield.
The décor, ambiance, menu and staff transported me back to sunny Greece. The only thing missing was Greek wine – like a chalky retsina – which was completely my fault – and the azure Mediterranean waters. But, we sat outside (where it was much less hectic) and barely even noticed the cars going up and down Broad Street. While waiting for our friends, our server brought marinated Greek olives and toasted bread basted in olive oil and herbs, and we salivated over the extensive menu. Our friends came, we salivated some more, asked lots of questions, and finally, we ordered. Believe, me, it wasn’t easy, but our server was very patient and helpful.
Our appetizer of mixed traditional dips and pita was definitely enough for 4. The tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber garlic and onion) dip was creamy and tangy, the taramosalata (caviar dip) was salty and lemony, and the melitzanosalata (eggplant dip, akin to baba ghanoush), was, well, perfect if you like eggplant!! The other two, skordalia (potato and garlic) and fava, a split pea dip, were not my favorites, but when mixed with any of the other three gave a nice consistency that enabled me to skip the pita bread altogether (trying to cut carbs you know, or at least absorb them via the wine.)
We also had a plate of 4 (or was it 5?) fresh grilled whole sardines, which looked fantastic, lightly seasoned and perfectly cooked. I could not get a picture of these, because they were scarfed up practically before the plate hit the table.
For entrees, I ordered the feta and pepper stuffed calamari – fresh feta that was deliciously creamy and dappled with crispy green pepper came pouring out of a whole fresh grilled squid; the others had lamb chops, grilled red snapper, and a vegetarian eggplant dish. As for dessert, well it is a rarity for me but I cannot ever resist homemade Greek Baklava – that light as air yet dense, sweet and sticky dessert that always leaves me wanting more. We shared this (pity!) and the Galactoboureko, a custard-based dessert that is not too sweet and rather light and refreshing.
Now, if only we had some ouzo…
1045 North Broad Street
Bloomfield, NJ 07003-2845
Tracy Goldenberg began her career in writing/marketing in the financial services industry. She has since explored different alternatives for her many talents, and is currently latching on to the green-living machine. Undergoing an extreme mid-life career crisis, she figures food and wine (and of course exercise) will carry her through. She has always lived by the motto “work hard play hard”.