Main Street in South Paterson, New Jersey is so full of Turkish restaurants and bakeries that I had no idea where to start, but had my eye on this corner from a previous visit when it was fully packed and obviously popular.
The interior is tranquil, with a large mural of beautiful Turkish sites adorning an entire wall and families with well-behaved kids at most tables. One slightly stressed out woman was running the entire front, but she could not have been any more friendly to everyone coming and going.
Unfortunately pretty full from a Peruvian lunch downtown, we ordered a couple small dishes and started with dessert in the form of sütlaç ($3, below), a typical rice pudding that gets a strong A+ from me. The bowl is taken straight from the fridge and served cold, tempering the richness and sweetness.
Çorba is just the Turkish word for soup, so be more specific and ask what the soup of the day is before ordering. On this Saturday, yellow lentil was on offer for $3, and comes with a nice basket of fresh Turkish bread. Before I realized this bread was something special, I asked for a pita and probably offended the nice lady who told me I should like the bread she gave me (she was right).
The broth of the yellow lentil soup was thin and somehow grainy, although not in any negative way. It was cold outside and this went a long way in warming us up.
There was slightly less garlic than usual in their rendition of cacik ($4.75, below), although it was still with me many hours later like usual. This yogurt dish made with olive oil, cucumbers, dill, and mint, amongst other ingredients, is served cold and good for scooping up with the bread. I usually end up ordering it when out for Turkish, and the dish is worth getting here as your appetizer.
This stretch of Main Street has many Middle Eastern places, including the wonderful Luna Bakery for Syrian pastries, and so far has been overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly. I hope to be back often to check out some of the other places that also look enticing.