A Mixed Bag of Grilled Meats at Kullah Restaurant, Fordham-Belmont
The Bronx is home to the country's largest Albanian population, with the largest enclaves in Morris Park, Arthur Avenue, and Pelham Parkway, and any number of burektorjas have sprouted up. But restaurants have not stuck; the last proper sit down spot serving Albanian food, Qebaptore Kalaja, opened and closed in 2011.
That is, until Belmont's Kullah Restaurant, first spotted by Dave Cook, opened up. The menu is full of stews, salads, and sweets as well what may be the city's only pie topped with suxhux, a type of Albanian beef sausage. But the focus at Kullah is rather squarely trained on the grill.
The most interesting of these grilled items is without a doubt the Hurmaxhik ($11), a beef patty stuffed with kaymak (thick dairy like clotted cream, but tangier) blended with mozzarella and ajvar, a marginally piquant roasted pepper spread. Dave points in this direction, and you would be well advised to follow his lead. Everything else on the menu that we have thus far sampled is far more straightforward; though that it is not to say we did not enjoy some of the simpler grilled meats.
You can get the Mixed Grill Kullah ($11), a platter that includes all of their grilled meats save the hurmaxhik, but you're better off opting for larger portions of the two better options (all $9).
Skip the rubbery and flavorless mish pule, which realizes our worst fears about chicken breast, as well the unfortunately under seasoned, all-beef qebapa, which lacks the depth of flavor we've learned to love in the mixed-meat variations offered at Muncan and Lydig Avenue's European Markets. Opt, instead, for the Gofte andSuxhuk. The suxhuk is perhaps a little salty—if only some of that salt could rub off on the qebapa—and a tad greasy, but the sweetness and warmth of the spices compensate. Just don't eat too much, too fast. The qofte, an oblong patty related to the kofte kebab, is meatier and more balanced in its flavor; its simplicity makes it a good companion for the cheesy hurmaxhik.
With your meats comes a loaf of warm somuna (pictured above) which, though somewhat doughy, is still a welcome foil for the meat. Skip the complimentary salad, the only virtue of which is its peppery strips of cabbage.
With temperatures once again dropping, the Pasul ($9), a stew of beans and smoked meat, will come in handy for locals looking for something to warm them up. The meat is tender and fatty but exhibits little indications of smoke. Just a touch sweet, fibrous, and warming, the beans are the real star of the show.
Desserts, unless you can get a plate of those donut-like krofne Dave writes of, are passable. But you're well advised to order a glass of Ayran ($1.50), a thin, salty yogurt drink that can be found in its factory form in many a Middle Eastern deli's glass case. Here it is made in-house. The difference is substantial, and the drink's refreshing, bright flavor will reinvigorate you in the event of a meat coma.