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In Cherry Hill NJ, lies a very unassuming, little restaurant in a very unassuming, little plaza called Sawmill Village. Just the type of place you would find a phenomenal restaurant. Case in point, a fabulous place called Kuzina by Sofia- serving authentic “Traditional & Modern Greek Cuisine”.
Being new to the area approximately 10 months ago, I had a hankering for some good Greek food. So like anyone in this age of technology would do, I researched the internet and hoped for the best. Now four visits later, I’m posting this blog to share it with you.
Yes, I always get the same thing at Kuzina- maybe someday I’ll expand my horizons, but until that day arrives, I’m a creature of habit- what can I say? With that being said, to say that I was thrilled with the anticipation of what awaited me, would be a major understatement.
We arrived a little early for dinner, and were the only ones there. By the time we were finished with our meal, the place was packed.
Once seated, the server brings water- and a basket of fresh, hot grilled pita bread, cut into wedges. To accompany the bread, is a bowl of olive oil, with spices and sesame seeds. You can taste the quality of the olive oil in its flavor, and the combination of the warm, lightly char-flavored bread doused with it, is wondrous.
Next, the two appetizers (aka “The Usual”, for me)- Saghanaki, and Spanakopita.
First, the Saghanaki- a salty, white Greek cheese, flambéed to a bubbly crust. Kuzina’s menu states that theirs is flambéed with Ouzo. All I have to say to that is, “OPA!” The crispy outside and chewy inside, with all of its salty goodness is the very definition of a guilty pleasure.
Next, the staple and most people’s first taste of Greek food- Spanakopita, better known as Spinach Pie. Fresh spinach (not Byrd’s Eye frozen), and ample chunks of Feta (another salty) cheese are very visible, and marry together seamlessly. The filling of spinach and cheese is wrapped by multiple layers of Phyllo dough, which is paper-thin sheets of dough that is used widely in Mediterranean pastries. The Spanakopita is baked, and the dough turns airy-light and crispy, browned to perfection, also toasting the sesame seeds added on top. The fresh, spinach filling with the buttery, crispy crunch of the pastry is mind-blowing.
Being completely satisfied thus far, I still have to go for the slam-dunk: The Gyro. My favorite Greek food, and my main coarse every time. It is served either as a pita sandwich, or as a platter, which comes with the gyro meat (beef and lamb, traditional-style); a greek salad; pita wedges; and Tzatziki sauce- which is a Greek yogurt, usually made with cucumbers and dill, plus various spices and lemon juice.
I always go for the Gyro in sandwich form, which comes also with tomato and onions. Always despising tomatoes from birth, and getting too old to handle raw onion, I opt- out on the veggies and go strictly meat- with the Tzatziki on the side (I like to govern the amount put on).
My favorite part of the meal- the arrival of the sandwich, served with French Fries. I’m not a huge fries person, but Kuzina even does them right, always tasting fresh- crispy on the outside, and nice and “potatoey” inside.
But the culinary star today, as always, is the Gyro. Bundled up in, again- a perfectly soft, warm Pita bread, is the gyro meat- a combination of lamb and beef and many different spices, traditionally cooked on a vertical skewer, with radiated heat. This produces a meat that is perfectly juicy with a peppery outer-crust. The meat is sliced as it browns and served immediately. I could literally eat pounds of just the meat- it is seriously that good. Crispy and seasoned on the outside, but ever so tender to the bite- and Kuzinas does it flawlessly. Their Tzatziki is the freshest I ever tasted, and is the perfect companion to the not-overly spicy meat.
Having other dessert plans for the evening, it was skipped this time. However, on one of my previous visits I tried the Baklava- traditional Greek dessert made up of chopped nuts and a Greek honey-based syrup, filled inside Phyllo dough and baked to a crisp, then drizzled more with the honey-syrup on top. Served with some great coffee- the perfect end to a perfect meal.
The service is always great, and the Mediterranean music softly playing overhead only adds to the ambiance and overall wonderful experience. I also had the pleasure at a previous dining, of meeting the woman behind the greatness- Sofia is as gracious a hostess as she is a fabulous chef.
Check out Kuzina by Sofia first chance you get- you will be extremely ευτυχισμένος that you did!