Bloomfield’s Gone Greek (And It’s So Good)

BY  |  Thursday, Mar 13, 2008 12:50pm  |  COMMENTS (35)

This weekend, I fell in love in Bloomfield. No more road trips to Astoria (I was there just a month ago) to satisfy my cravings for authentic Greek food. The newly opened Stamna Greek Taverna is the real deal.

If you’re wondering what stamna means, this is it. You’ll see these vases at Stamna, which opened last week in Bloomfield, and operated like a well olive-oiled machine on our visit. The smoothness may have something to do with the staff and owners, Greeks with origins tracing back to Karpathos. The atmosphere inside Stamna is true Greek taverna — lots of white and blue, Grecian urns and artifacts — yet unique, as if the owners were displaying their own treasures from home. We especially got a kick out of the flat screen with live Greek TV feed (muted of course).


The island-proud staff at Stamna were as gracious as their food was delicious. When we asked about Karpathos, a guide book materialized at our table filled with gorgeous pictures of this skinny island in the Dodecanese chain. Like any good island taverna worth its feta, Stamna offers fish and plenty of it. A grilled platter of calamari, octopus and shrimp was devoured by our group, and exemplified the Greek tradition of fresh seafood, simply grilled, simply delicious. Our favorite Cyprian cheese, halloumi (pictured), is on the menu (the chef breaks from the Karpathos crew — he hails from Cyprus) along with all the traditional dips (taramasolata and skordalia, served with both rustic toasted bread and pita) and other faves like spanakopita and Greek meatballs.

octopusshrimpcalamari.jpg

The Karpathian influence was evident in some menu items including a Greek version of bruschetta using wheat rusks and the home-style Karpathian macaroni (an old fashioned wheat pasta topped with sauteed onions and traditonal cheese) that tasted like Greek comfort food. Besides the wealth of great fish options (including market price fish from the Mediterranean) carnivores should order sheftalia and loukaniko, along with souvlaki, lamb, steaks and chops.
Stamna is BYOB; and when the meal ends, order a Nescafe frappe and some loukoumades and linger as if you were in the Aegean. Just be prepared to adjust to the experience, much like a time zone change. The Greek food and ambiance is both real and transporting. After the waiter hands you a bill topped with ouzo candies and you step outside, you’ll have to accept that, yes, you are back in Bloomfield.

Stamna Greek Taverna, 1045 Broad Street, 973) 338-5151; open for lunch and dinner; closed Mondays.

stamnaview.jpg

35 Comments

  1. POSTED BY Tom Traubert  |  March 13, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

    We’ve been here a few times now; it’s exactly what the neighborhood needed. The fish is of excellent quality and prepared simply — we’ll be regulars.

  2. POSTED BY Gigi33  |  March 13, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

    I can’t wait! If it is as good as you describe, I’m excited to finally have good Greek food in baristaville.

  3. POSTED BY RaeVen  |  March 13, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

    Oh, is this where Tia Maria used to be? I’m going to have to check this place out!

  4. POSTED BY State Street Pete  |  March 13, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

    Greek food in Bloomfield! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to try this place!

  5. POSTED BY User Name  |  March 13, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

    Nice placement of the ad for Greek Delights, right next to the feature about Stamna!

  6. POSTED BY Euterpe  |  March 13, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

    Oreia! This brings me back to my one summer on Patmos and the other on Ios! I love the Dodecanese! and ouzo and kefthedes and buses packed with tourists, locals and the yia yias with their string bags emploring you to “eat, eat, you’re a tree” (sounds better in Greek)

  7. POSTED BY jwbivins  |  March 13, 2008 @ 9:06 pm

    Went there tonight based on reviews, and was not disappointed. Service is excellent, food was delicious. This is definitely a great newcomer.

  8. POSTED BY Buzz  |  March 14, 2008 @ 2:50 am

    Any clues on its prices and how they compare to other local Greek restaurants?

  9. POSTED BY Pitbull  |  March 14, 2008 @ 7:30 am

    We’ve been there twice and are heading there with friends tonight. The food is excellent and the prices are very reasonable.
    Please try the Macarournas (a whole wheat pasta with chopped carmalized onions on top with a light coating of good quality extra virgin olive oil)–my wife’s favorite. The owner sent it to our table as a comp and my wife’s been hooked from that moment on. The tszatiki (sp?) is probably the best I’ve ever had.
    Signed,
    Yum

  10. POSTED BY Anne Prince  |  March 14, 2008 @ 7:59 am

    My reviews that I posted on NJ.Com last week:
    A party of 5 of us went to the new Greek restuarant last night and had a terrific time! We all shared a variety of appetizers – had very good and generous portions of our main meal, shared 3 desserts and coffees and the bill per person with tax and tip was $27pp – extremely reasonable for the quality and amount of food. It is a BYOB – the desserts are all homemade. In taking to our server/host for the night it turns out that this place is run by the people who run the Nevada Diner but it is like night and day between the two! The place was hopping – a nice mixture of Greeks and “Gringo’s” all enjoying themselves. I saw some acquintances from both sides of town also enjoying themselves there as well.
    If you haven’t had a chance to go yet, please try it – I don’t think you will be disappointed.
    For appys we shared a hummus, greek salad, tizitki (the yougurt/cucumber/dill dip), a delicious plate of large lima beans (but white, almost more like fava beans) in a tomatoe sauce, they have wonderful lemony/garlicy olives for you to munch on. And we also had grilled eggplant with a garlic/potatoe puree. For entrees, people had lamb chops, my friend and I shared a grilled meat platter for $18 that was loaded – 2 boneless chicken breasts, a ton of gyro, a grilled lamb patty, grilled sausage – it was all very good – came with a side of potatoe wedges in oil/lemon and sauted greens (not sure what kind). Others had spinich/feta cheese pies (spanikopita). We shared a baklava, a greek yougurt drizzled with honey and crushed walnuts (my fave!) and an really good custard square which was also very good – all homeade. They also have a large variety of fresh fish (whole) that they will grill and bone tableside – they looked really good – but I was in the mood for meat. It does get crowded (but hey, that’s a good thing right?). BYOB as well.

  11. POSTED BY pjt  |  March 16, 2008 @ 6:32 am

    greek salad was terrific, very fresh and perfectly dressed. This place is very cute and way bigger than it looks on the outside, they have more seats in the back. Can’t wait to try more than the little take out that i had. All the best of luck, its so nice to have something of this quality in the brookdale section… go check them out.

  12. POSTED BY ricochan  |  March 16, 2008 @ 11:28 am

    My husband and I along with our baby son had lunch there yesterday. We were married in Santorini, Greece, and we loved food in Greek islands. We tried fish that we could not pronouce and some sausages – boy, we were full! My hubby loved the flappe, which was exactly the same as what he had in Athens. We must go back to try out more dishes – too many that sound great. Greek does Bloomfield wonders – I noticed the customers were nice also. My son was happy the whole time, and some probably did not even notice that there was a baby. There is something about Greek that does everyone good 🙂

  13. POSTED BY magoo  |  March 19, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

    is there a menu online that i can look at. we plan to go there friday night for dinner.

  14. POSTED BY magoo  |  March 21, 2008 @ 7:48 am

    me and my husband were there last night for dinner – 1st time. we had a wonderful time. we ordered the macarounes and cod fish. also tried their greek salad it is very tasty. we had the galaktabourika which is home made by the owner Angela. She also sent our table a complimentary plate of greek cookies, they are so delicious. Our waiter Harry was funny and very nice. We will surely come back. Prices are sooo reasonable.
    Thank you for a good night’s dinner. Maria

  15. POSTED BY LyraC  |  March 23, 2008 @ 12:26 am

    Greek meatballs were very tasty – enjoyed the baklava not too sweet. cute little place

  16. POSTED BY umtc  |  March 29, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

    I ate hear with a bunch of people last week and was pleasantly surprised. The people running the restaurant are friendly and really try to make everyone happy. The good was really good. We started with 3 -4 appetizers and really liked them all – especially the gigantes and mixed dip platter. Everyone at our table ordered a different fish and we were all really happy with what we ordered. The place was super busy so they kind of rushed us out at the end – but that just gave us an excuse to continue our evening over some ice cream at Holstens. Greek Delights better watch out – this place is a keeper!

  17. POSTED BY Conan  |  April 07, 2008 @ 10:27 am

    Yipe! This place is wonderful. Conan, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and our dear friend Pete — the Mayor of Everywhere — figured that a Sunday night might be a quiet time to try Stamna. It was mobbed! We were told that there was a big parade in New York, and I guess Greek folks from Baristaville who went to the parade were extending their celebration to Stamna for dinner.
    The owner made us feel like we were family immediately. After only a short wait, they created a three-top out of a deuce, right under the stamna shelves with a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. The kitchen was chaotic, but they never missed a beat — very impressive. Our waiter, Ric, was not hassled, not harried, and delivered everything on time and hot. We had some excellent hummus to start, along with an order of the meatballs — superb. SWMBO opted for a pork shish kabob dish (although they are not called that on the menu); Pete had the Moussaka, and Yr. Obdt. Svt. opted for a lamb dish ? slow braised shoulder (I forget the Greek name) that was delicious.
    The food was excellent: tasty, beautifully presented, and of substantial quantity. Pete, who grew up Down Neck, has never left a morsel on a plate; he came close last night. There was one scary moment when SWMBO, who is from the Southern school of cuisine (all dishes must have mayonnaise and/or Tabasco), asked for some hot sauce and Ric told her ?no.? He explained that Greeks do not use hot spices in their cuisine, and since we were at a real Greek restaurant, she should have authentic Greek food. I checked my flak jacket to make sure it was tight and awaited the explosion: it never came. She agreed, and only cajoled a small plate of pepperoncini (which they were serving as condiments) on the side.
    The place was boisterous, noisy, teetering on bedlam, and there wasn?t a scowl in the joint.
    We were too stuffed for dessert, but SWMBO said that we would back again soon (and we will) to try the desserts. Two minutes later, the owner was back with a comped plate of honey-dripped sweet buns, which were similar to sopapillas and/or beignets. Had to have at least two.
    The bill was very modest. We are constantly amazed at how inexpensive our favorite BYO?s in Bloomfield can be: Brookside Thai, Pandam, Ahi ? and now ? Stamna. It took some getting used to, being the die-hard New York wine snob I am, but I find that bringing two bottles of wine to a BYO restaurant is still cheaper than ordering one bottle ? or even a few glasses ? at a restaurant with a license. And, uh, ahem, Montclair: parking is plentiful and free at night in Bloomfield.
    Too make a long story short (too late!), Stamna is terrific. We will go back, and go back regularly. I am looking forward to eating my way through their menu. I also urge anyone who enjoys good food prepared and presented by people who celebrate same to get themselves there forthwith!
    Filakia!

  18. POSTED BY Conan  |  April 07, 2008 @ 10:38 am

    Please forgive the typos — I did this in Word and cut and pasted it to Baristanet.

  19. POSTED BY Liz  |  April 07, 2008 @ 11:29 am

    Conan — glad you liked Stamna! The treats she brought you at the end are loukoumades — a.k.a. Greek zeppoles.

  20. POSTED BY Conan  |  April 07, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

    Thanks, Liz. She also offered us a flan-like desert, but we really were stuffed. Next time. What’s nice, is that they are open for lunch, too. Both of us work from home a couple of days a week, and what a treat it will be to go down there for a nice lunch. Bloody civilized, for Essex County… 🙂

  21. POSTED BY Gigi33  |  April 07, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

    Does anyone now if Stamna will have a menu for Greek Easter? I need to find a nearby place to bring my Greek fatehr and that is child-friendly (I have a 4 year old and a 9 month old).

  22. POSTED BY appletony  |  April 11, 2008 @ 8:16 am

    Applefamily enjoyed Stamna, one and all. We started with assorted cold appetizers and saganaki — perfect. The seafood dishes are great and so large that I’m concerned that they are underpriced — seriously, consider sharing these dishes or be prepared for a second Greek meal at home the next day (not a bad thing, that)! Finishing with a frappe Nes and loukoumades really brought home that there’s a dinner-quality Greek taverna in the area.

  23. POSTED BY thebump  |  May 05, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

    ate here on saturday night. the place was crowded but we took a table near the door that a few other couples passed on. service was a bit hectic but very friendly and helpful. the spicy feta cheese dip for an appetizer was incredible. very spicy but also nice saltiness from the feta. portions were huge but the quality was good. definetly will return. maybe on a weeknight.

  24. POSTED BY ricochan  |  June 27, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    My hubby, our baby boy and I have been there twice. Our waiter remembered us in details (we were married in Santorini)! We took his suggestions in which dish to order on both occasions, and we were not disappointed! I ordered grilled octopus this time, which was tender and yummy. We will be back.

  25. POSTED BY Kaglan  |  August 03, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

    I live not far away, and have been once. It is indeed pretty good, though I discovered I do not like mint, which is more than a small liability in greek dining. 🙂
    The place is always packed with long lines waiting outside — something I never see this stretch of broad street. It is nothing short of amazing — new restaurants aren’t supposed to be that successful. Good for them and I wish them continued success.

  26. POSTED BY mets2008  |  August 04, 2008 @ 10:52 am

    Kaglan – Both my wife and I have a complete revulsion at mint in our food. When it started showing up in every other dish about 5 years ago, I was aghast. Thought it would be a passing phase but unfortunately not the case. I have walked out if restaurants where there is mint in every other dish. I hope some local restaurant owners take not. Please, no mint or at least ease way up. Many of us HATE mint. Maybe ok for chewing gum and tooth paste but not my main course.

  27. POSTED BY Spot The Looney  |  August 22, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

    Are they still open? No answer at the telephone number.

  28. POSTED BY thebump  |  August 22, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    went the other night and they are on vacation this week. bummer.

  29. POSTED BY scruffycat  |  November 30, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

    Went this evening and was very, very impressed. Excellent food and the service went above and beyond. Will go again the next time I get to go out on a date with my wife, if money still exists then.

  30. POSTED BY Tom Traubert  |  February 01, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

    A very nice write-up of Stamna is in this weekend’s NYT Jersey section. Rated “good,” but reads more like a “very good.”

  31. POSTED BY RaeVen  |  February 02, 2009 @ 9:32 am

    I still love this place, but has anyone else noticed it’s not quite as good as it was a few months ago? The portions have shrunk and the olive oil and feta aren’t the same quality.

  32. POSTED BY Pork Roll  |  February 23, 2009 @ 12:21 am

    Was there last night with the extended family (7 of us), most of whom had dined here with me on separate occasions late last year, and to hear everyone talk (and eat!) it was as good as ever. Portion sizes seemed quite generous for the most part, especially the mixed grill for you Atkins devotees.

  33. POSTED BY melv666  |  April 04, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

    NO MORE STAMNA for me. My family has been enjoying Stamna almost twice a month since it opened it’s doors. There is one particular dish we always order, but the price has gone so high and the service so low….no more stamna for us. What was once $13. is now $25. and no “pita” is ever included in a take out order and the side of tzatziki is so small, it feeds only one person if you’re lucky, therefore you must pay for pita and tzatziki where every other greek establishment would have included it in the price of a take out order. Did I mention how nasty and unfriendly the woman is that usually takes your money ? Did I ever hear a thank you??? No……STAMNA IS DEAD TO ME. Soooo many other great greek tavernas around town that don’t nickel and dime a loyal customer. melv666

  34. POSTED BY mscudiery  |  June 30, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

    While food is not bad, service and attitude are terrible. Had a reservation for 8 people last night at 7:30. We ware told it would be little while. When I probed the host it turned out it was going to be 30 minutes at least, most likely more. He reasoned that he was only there once a week so he could do nothing. Owner, I was told was not in the house. I was then told that a party of 10 had a reservation also at 7:30 and their table was waiting for them and if they did not come in 10 minutes, we would be given the table. Amazing. I told the young imbecile that we had a 7:30 reservation, we were there and should be given the table. He said he was doing the best he could, but could not give us the table. I told him to forget it and that we would never be back. With their attitude, I’m sure it did not matter to them.

    We went to a new place in Montclair, Albert’s Soul Food on Church St. and it was great. The former owner/chef of Yves in Montclair years ago is the chef. Check it out.

  35. POSTED BY kbanda  |  June 30, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    I don’t like Stamna on weekend nights as much as I do on weeknights. No reservations are needed, staff is friendly and helpful and add to the party atmosphere. That said, I haven’t been able to get there in a while. When I do go back I’ll make sure it’s not on a weekend night.

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