So many of the entrées at Montenegro Grille bear the descriptors francese, parmigiana and marsala, that it’s hard to tell whether it’s an Italian joint or one specializing in the cuisine of the Southeastern European nation bordered by Albania, Croatia and Serbia. Digging a little deeper reveals such Balkan favorites as cevapi and pljeskavica. I’m a big fan of those little skinless sausages as well as the ginormous lamb and beef patty known as the Bosna burger. But that’s not what brought me to Astoria. It was brains. Specifically veal brains. The last time I ate brains was at a taqueria and I was hung over. Actually, I didn’t even get to try them. Just as I was about to take a bite my friend started talking about Hannibal Lecter and I dropped the runny taco. So when I heard that Montenegro Grille had brains I jumped at the chance to earn another offal merit badge.
To steel myself for the task ahead I downed a glass of Lozova Rakija. Judging from the taste, I think that translates to “white lightning.” Actually it’s an immature grape brandy. Anyway, on to the brains.
At first glance it’s hard to tell whether the pohovan mozak, or sautéed veal brain in white wine sauce, is actually brains. When it comes to the table it looks and smells great, but that brown coating of batter flecked with herbs could contain fish as far as I’m concerned. The proof is in the creamy pudding like consistency of these lovely lobes. They have a very delicate flavor and, yes, I suppose you could compare them to scrambled eggs, but that would just be wrong-headed. Just to verify that the generous portion of floppy battered foodstuff was actually brains, I made sure to closely examine a cross section. Pink: Check. Wrinkly: Check. Delicious: Check and mate.
28-08 34th Street, Astoria NY 11103 (map) 347-527-1501
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