1086 River Road, Edgewater NJ 07020
Web Site: http://www.theshahrzad.com
As I mentioned a few months ago in my post about Honey Mediterranean Gourmet in Teaneck, Persian cuisine is few and far between in these parts of New Jersey — it’s something of an endangered species, actually.
So I was very surprised when I drove down River Road in Edgewater quite recently and found that an elegant new Persian restaurant, Shahrzad had just opened up in the former space of Shiraz, another fine Persian restaurant which had served the community for 15 years until it closed in 2008.
Or maybe was this just my stomach jonesing for a Kebob after watching too much History Channel. Either way, I was going to find out.
The elegant Shahrzad storefront on River Road in Edgewater, NJ.
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Shahrzad is so new, the owners haven’t had a chance to put up much of their artwork yet. But they’ve gotten very busy in the kitchen.
This warm dip/mezze is a Mirzaghasemi, a puree of smoky roasted eggplant, diced tomatoes, scrambled egg pieces, tomato and a HUGE amount of garlic. Fantastic, and especially useful for scaring away vampires.
The garlicky spread went extremely well with this toasty Persian flatbread.
This is another compelling appetizer made with eggplant, Kashkeh Bademjoon, a sauteed mixture of eggplant and yogurt, with caramelized onions and garlic, with sauteed dried mint. Killer.
Doogh, a slightly salty and minty and a bit sour yogurt drink. Excellent for settling your stomach and full of healthy lactobacillus cultures.
Salad Olovieh is a chicken and potato salad that sounds rather pedestrian but tastes really good. It’s actually Russian in origin, not Iranian.
Sabzi Khordan is an Iranian-style crudite of Feta Cheese, basil, mint, parsley and scallion, and goes great with the meal.
Fasenjoon Chelow, a Persian chicken stew made with walnuts and pomegranate. Extremely exotic, simultaneously savory, sweet and sour, served with Persian basmati saffron rice pilaf.
I opted for the classic Kebob Koobideh, arguably what many have called the national dish of Iran. This is made from a spiced mixture of grilled ground halal beef and lamb.
While not “on the menu” per se, I asked the owner if he had any Tadikh, the crusty layer that forms at the bottom of the rice pot. He was happy to oblige, and offered to top it with Ghormeh Sabzi, a sauteed mix of dill, parsley, cilantro, leek and scallion, cooked with kidney beans, whole dried lemon and lamb that has been simmered for many hours. This is clearly a homestyle dish, but I’d grant it fit for the Shah of Iran.
On a second visit, we got more Tadikh, this time with some Chelow Gheimeh on top, a lamb stew in tomato sauce with split peas and and lemon. What can I say, I’m a Tadikh-a-holic.
The saffron flavor of the rice is amazingly powerful and the restaurant uses an obscene amount of the expensive spice.
Here’s a full dinner order of the Ghormeh Sabzi. Fantastic stuff.
Here’s one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, aptly named “Chicken Chop” with no Farsi name. These are entire chicken legs that have peen peeled off the bone to resemble lamb chops and have been marinated in a crazy-good seasoning blend and then charcoal broiled. This one is a must-order. Beware of the big roasted Serrano pepper, it will blow your head off if you bite into it. The only cure for it is Doogh.
I didn’t get a chance to photograph the very nice Persian tea service we had at the end, which came in a pretty white teapot and was brewed very strong, just the way Iranians like it.
Shahrzad is a new restaurant which is still getting the kinks out on service and finalizing its menu items, but I encourage you to stop by, especially if you’re looking for something really different.