NJ Dining: Al-Basha

Al-Basha Restaurant
1076 Main St, Paterson, NJ 07503

Web Site: http://www.albashanj.com/

The Main Street stretch of Clifton and South Paterson known as “Little Arabia” is an area that I always wanted to explore, but never really got to. Sure, growing up Jewish and having traveled to Israel when I was younger I know more than just a little bit about Middle Eastern cuisine, and I’ve eaten at a number of very good Lebanese (1) (2) and Turkish restaurants in Bergen and Hudson County and have prepared a number of authentic dishes at home. But South Paterson always seemed to escape me, I guess because I don’t speak Arabic and having such a huge choice of shops and restaurants to look at seemed overwhelming to me. I wouldn’t say that I am uncomfortable around Muslim and Arab people — I have a number of habibi of my own but the language barrier is definitely an obstacle for me.

Fortunately, I had my friend Ghassan Fawzi to bring me on this trip. Ghassan is a fellow Linux-head that lives in New York City and comes to Paterson during the weekends to shop for those special groceries he doesn’t easily have access to. He’s also an Israeli Palestinian (an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent) and we are both working on a computer project to help bring Israeli and Palestinian kids together. To reward me, he wanted to bring me to eat Palestinian food at his favorite place in Paterson. So Rachel and I joined Ghassan and his wife at Al-Basha restaurant, on Main Street, for a lunch of a couple of plates of mezze.

“Al-Basha” is named for Yaser Basha, a Ramallah-born Palestinian who came to the US in 1980, and went on to become an Italian chef. He started his own restaurant in 2002, which serves traditional Palestinian and other Middle Eastern foods.

Come inside Al-Basha and try some authentic Palestinian cuisine. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Al-Basha’s main dining room, which is lit by the glow of decorative lamps. It feels like a cafe in downtown Beirut or Jerusalem.

Wall decorations

A complementary plate of Palestinian-style pickles and olives.

Mint Tea.

Fatit Hummus. This differs greatly from typical Israeli or Lebanese preparations in that it uses whole chickpeas as well as some that are pureed which is floating in tahini and a pool of fruity olive oil. You could sort of say it is a “deconstructed” hummus. It was one of our favorite dishes at the table.

Fava Bean Dip.

Mehamarah, a tangy dip made of Red Pepper and Walnuts. I loved this one.

“Tomato Saute”. A highly concentrated tomato sauce similar to a confit with olive oil. This one was fought over at the table.

Tabbouleh, a blend of chopped parsley, lemon juice, bulghur wheat and chopped tomato with the juices. A refreshing fresh salad to accompany the richer dishes on the table.

Stuffed Felafels. These extra-large balls of fried chickpeas are stuffed with sauteed onions. Truly excellent.

Felafel closeup.

A plate of kebabs, destined for another table.

Another plate of kebabs.

20 Responses to NJ Dining: Al-Basha

  1. jewaira says:

    All the food looks quite delicious and the ambiance seems cozy. I would rather the tea not be served though with a tea-bag like that though.

  2. BPerlow says:

    Hey Jay, that looks pretty good for some Middle Eastern food. I look forward to going there next time I have some time in NY/NJ..

    You got to try Sham if you come to LA.. Its as good as the London places…

  3. Rosie says:

    Loved the pictures. Do they allow you to BYO?

  4. Pax says:

    Are these dishes allowed on your new food regime?

  5. Sure. Middle Eastern food is pretty healthy in general. As long as you center on the salads and mezze and leave a lot of the oil on the plate and don’t eat too much pita bread, its fine. Even the kebabs are reasonable if you avoid the rice.

  6. Pax says:

    FWIW, I would think that the rice and the pita would be much more healthful than the greasy meat and the fried felafel. But, if it works for you, G’zinter heit!

  7. Well, we didn’t have any kebabs, those were destined for another table. As to the felafels, one per person isn’t going to kill ya for an occasional treat.

  8. Rachel Perlow says:

    Refer back to the post I wrote about our lifestyle changes, especially #10:

    Part of what has kept us sane and allowed us to continue with our “new food regime” is keeping it real. You are going to occasionally eat out. And, while much of the food we ate at Al Basha was quite healthful, it was also higher in fat than we usually consume. But, we had a healthy breakfast that day, and I think homemade soup and salad for dinner, if I recall correctly. Some people talk about making up for the occasional splurge by being more restrictive prior to expected excess or in the days afterwards. But that doesn’t work for us either. If we skip breakfast, we’ll be ravenous at lunchtime and overeat. I find it is much easier to just accept the splurge and continue on with our not so new healthier eating habits.

  9. Rebecca263 says:

    Hey! This post if a fun one! We keep trying different Middle Eastern places, but nothing ever matches the home cooking. You know that you are welcome with us for Syrian food, anytime… not withstanding the restrictions during Passover- ’cause Kiddle is one half not Sephardic, so we are as limited as those Ashkenazi rules can be! Speaking of which, Kiddle is heading to Israel as a volunteer for a year, we are so excited!

  10. Victor Sasson says:

    Jason: Thnaks for the heads up on Al-Basha, which has a nicer interior than most South Paterson restaurants. I’ve been looking for a good place since Vine Valley Lebanese restaurant closed months and months ago. Did you stop at Fattal’s for pita, canned goods such as imported hummus (add oil, garlic and lemon), olives, cheese, Morrocan sardines and deep-green extra-virgin oilive oil? It has its own parking lot, too, in the 900 block of Main Street. All the best.

  11. Jasmine says:

    Hello ,
    I just want to comment on the Restaurant and the name, Al -Basha is a well know Lebanese Restaurant in Lebanon , London and the Middle East Area. since many many years .
    Mr. Basha used the name to build a reputation in USA.

  12. Ike says:

    I just discovered this post. Nice photos! I’ll have to try this place. I wonder how the food compares against Kamil’s in Clifton, which I discovered recently. Their food is outstanding — it blew me away. Al-Basha’s decor looks really nice, much nicer than Kamil’s, but if the food isn’t as good as Kamil’s then that won’t matter much to me.

    I was talking to another diner at Kamil’s who mentioned that he also really likes Mazaj in Paterson. Anybody been?

    • khalid abu assi says:

      ohhh A great place to pick up Middle Eastern sandwiches (hummus, baba ghannoush, shawarma) or to sit and enjoy a more substantial plate with shawarma or kebab and Middle Eastern salad and other side dishes. Good value for your money; but, minimalist cafe style seating area.A must visit if you are in Paterson for Kebabs. They serve Halal buffet durin’ lunch. They seafood rice dish is excellent. The resturant is modest and the service is excellent. Definitely a good place to eat Halal food. thak God we have restaurant like Albasha to go there and eat frish and %100 halal lets go albasha

    • J says:

      Mazaj is great and this is coming from a Syrian who knows her food. My entire family are big time cooks so try Mazaj you won’t regret it.

    • Ike says:

      Now that I’ve been to Mazaj, I have to agree with those who say it’s really really good. The kibbeh was a bit dry but everything else was outstanding and a great value. The decor is a bit nicer than at some other nearby places like Kamil’s.

  13. mohammad alfarra says:

    I travel all the way from Albany,NY with my wife every other weekend just to have real good Middle Eastern food. The employees are nice and the setting reminds me of back home overseas.I highly recommend it for your family. the best food at albasha

  14. […] a previous post about the very excellent Al Basha Palestinian restaurant, I spoke a bit about the Middle-Eastern community on Main Street in South Paterson, which my friend […]

  15. […] I mentioned in my posts about Al-Basha and Al-Safa, the strip of Main Street in South Paterson known as “Little Arabia” or […]

  16. […] Off the Broiler Share and Enjoy: […]

  17. ellen resnick says:

    I loved this review I actually crossed the GW Bridge and went there. It was interesting and the hummus was outstanding.. DO you ever come into NYC? I go out to eat about 6 nights a week… I would love to speak to you…

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