The city of Alexandria in Egypt is a still prosperous place with a relationship to the sea that has defined and strengthened it over centuries. The symbol of its ruined lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the second tallest building in the world when constructed (after the pyramids) adorns both the flag of the city and its coat of arms. Traders coming by ship used its beacon to guide them in, bringing all sorts of goods and fresh fish.
The latter is the specialty here in Bay Ridge's newest Egyptian restaurant, a market as well as eatery. The modest place as a couple television sets showing news in Arabic, and many photos of its namesake city on the walls. Not everything is always available, but they will hand out a list of fish with pictures including branzino, red snapper, orata, mullet, red mullet, porgy, whiting, perch, tilapia, salmon, and striped bass. You will be offered different methods of cooking including open-faced grilled and baked.
When ordering a fish, you can select from their many side salads, some of which are shown below:
Egyptian style potato salad
Mint tea (it's Lipton)
While our fish selections were being prepared, we got an order of the grilled shrimp ($10.95, below), which was generously bumped up from eight to ten pieces as our party was five. The oil here goes well with the rice, but really nothing is needed but some clean hands for picking the shrimp out of their shells and eating.
It seemed natural to order both selections from the menu described as "Mediterranean fish," starting with the orata ($16.95, below), which we had baked as per the proprietor's suggestion.
On this night the owner was unsatisfied with the size of his white perch ($12.95, below two photos), but still wanted us to try them grilled so brought out two fish for us, for the price of one.
The other Mediterranean fish we went with was the open-faced grilled style branzino ($16.95, below), which comes topped with a delicious sauce that unfortunately covers most of the taste.
The orata gets picked apart
The warmth and hospitality of a Middle Eastern restaurant should never be surprising, but we left feeling well taken care of anyways. The owner is such a great man and was clearly after our stomachs, the money was simply an afterthought. This is a really special place.