Dig In to the (Vegetarian) Georgian Bread at We Are Georgians

Adjaruli at We Are Georgians | Tara Mahadevan
Adjaruli at We Are Georgians | Tara Mahadevan

Deep in south Brooklyn, you'll find We Are Georgians (230 Kings Highway, Brooklyn; 718-759-6250), a bare-bones Georgian restaurant that specializes in bread. One of only eleven Georgian restaurants in New York City, the restaurant's various Georgian loaves serve as unique centerpieces, and are sometimes stuffed with pinto beans, egg, cheese, or meat.

Owner Marina Maisuradze-Olivo opened her restaurant a year and a half ago, though she's been in America for eighteen years. Before she moved to New York from her hometown of Tbilisi — the capital of Georgia — she was a seismographer. When she moved to the U.S., she became a home health aide. She found the motivation to open her own restaurant because she was always cooking for parties and her friends, and wanted to cook for others as well.

"Everything I cook comes from my mother," she says. "She loved cooking; I love cooking." Maisuradze-Olivo's menu is filled with her mother's recipes.

Georgia comprises nine regions, and each one of them has a different cuisine — We Are Georgians' menu includes dishes from all the regions. One of the restaurant's most favored dishes is the adjaruli ($10.50), a thick, cheesy bread that's topped with an egg and butter. All the regions make their own version of adjaruli. The version we tried at Maisuradze-Olivo's restaurant is shaped like an eye, and the egg sits in the middle like an iris. A thick slice of butter sits to the side of the egg.

Maisuradze-Olivo showed me the proper way to eat adjaruli: You take your fork and break the egg, mixing it with the butter. This allows the egg and butter to soak into the bread, which is thick and soft on the inside with a flaky outer crust. The cheese — a blend of mozzarella and feta — is baked right into the bread, and it oozes out as you cut into the dish. The egg is cooked for three to four minutes before the bread is finished baking, and then continues to cook into the bread as you eat it.

Ukrainian borscht at We Are Goergians | Tara Mahadevan
Ukrainian borscht at We Are Goergians | Tara Mahadevan

Supplement your meal with Ukrainian borscht ($5 to $9), which includes more vegetables than the Russian and Ukrainian versions you're likely familiar with: It floats with potato, cabbage, tomato, and bell pepper. Of course, the base of the soup is beetroot, which gives the dish a general light sweetness. Maisuradze-Olivo adds another dimension to her borscht: cilantro, which gives the soup a tangy pungency. Borscht is traditionally eaten with sour cream, which gives it that milkiness.

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