As documented in Food Adventures, I enjoy checking out foods originating from different countries. Some favorites over the years include Georgian, Slovakian and Jamaican. When a friend of central European descent inquired about Bosnian/Serbian food I jumped at the chance.
The majority in New York City are in Queens, specifically Astoria and Long Island City. Based on the descriptions on Yelp, we chose Cevabzinica Sarajevo. Located just off Northern Boulevard, we somehow did manage to get a little lost, though I suspect we’re not the first people to do so given the crazy streets in this borough.
The restaurant was located right on the corner. It’s setup as sit down fast food, that is to say, you order at the counter and they bring out the food to you. It’s a modest size establishment. Aside from a small group of gruff looking men, we were the only customers at the time. Despite comments about Serbian places in general being unfriendly, we found the server to be warm and very helpful in answering questions.
Per my friend Peter’s suggestion, we tried the signature food of Serbia, cevapi, a type of grilled sausage made of beef. The accompanying sauce was called ajyar (pronounced ayyar) a creamy, smoky relish made with grilled eggplant and sweet red peppers. The consistency is like a thinner babaganoush but with a lovely orange/reddish color. Also provided were onions and a fluffy bread called lepinja, not unlike naan. Everything tasted incredibly fresh. In an odd coincidence, there was just an ajvar recipe posted to Serious Eats (recipe is gluten free/vegan).
We also tried the excellent stuffed cabbage which was served in a very thin tomato and chicken based broth. The meat inside had a nice bit of heat to it. Lastly, we checked out a meat and a spinach bureks. Unlike the bureks I’d tried in the past, these were moist but kept the integrity of the filo dough though I wouldn’t have minded some ketchup and sriracha for dipping at the time.
This was an excellent experience. It’s not friendly to vegetarians at all but if you’re non-vegetarian and looking for hearty fare, this is a great, great option.