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.
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.