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.
A complementary plate of Palestinian-style pickles and olives.
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.
A plate of kebabs, destined for another table.
Another plate of kebabs.