Z: Women wear long dresses or long skirts, long sleeves, and head scarves, while the men and young boys cover their heads with yarmulkes and display the tassels of their tallit around their hips. This is the realm of the orthodox Jews gathering with friends and family to end the Sabbath and enjoy an evening of festivities centered around food.
R: Simplicity reigns here. You won't find elegant furnishings, flowers, or even linens gracing the tables. Brami's is an unadorned comfort zone for families with young children who can climb, roll, and jump in the dedicated play area in one corner of the spacious restaurant while moms and dads enjoy a Falafel in a Pita. The little ones also make the entire restaurant a play-zone where they run, jump, sing, and dance around the room that seats about 50 people.
Z: The menu includes a wide selection of strictly kosher foods with choices that range from pizza and calzones to hot entrees, sandwiches, and soups offering an array of familiar Mexican, Italian, and Israeli dishes. Opposite the entrance is the counter where we placed our order for Lentil Soup, Soymeat with Grilled Veggie Calzone, and the Falafel Plate. Our friend, Paul, ordered an individual10-inch Mushroom Pizza.
R: We chose a table near the window while waiting for our food. The room is brightly lit, the walls a light straw hue above the wainscot with bright orange below that directs the eye downward to the beige ceramic tile flooring. Deep brown tables and chairs dominate the room. The walls are stark with the exception of a few skillfully painted watercolors of Israeli scenes. One on the wall directly across from me depicted Jewish orthodox men praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. These artworks are placed high on the walls away from the children's busy little hands and fingers.
Z: The generous portion of Lentil Soup arrived plain as the walls, sans even a pinch of parsley. But our first sip convinced us the cook is an accomplished soup maker. Steaming hot, thick, full-bodied, and savory rich with flavor, the soup sported a deep hunter green tone and offered a pleasant hint of spice. We shared the bowl as our starter and found it fully satisfying. The other soup choices included Vegetable, Minestrone, and Mushroom Barley.
R: Paul's Mushroom Pizza was large for an individual size--more than one person could handle, but since it had vegetarian, not vegan, cheese, we were not about to offer our help. He did manage to demolish half of it and enjoyed the thick crust and the tasty mushrooms.
Z: Since we rarely encounter a calzone with soymeat on restaurant menus, we were unprepared for the colossal size of the Soymeat and Grilled Veggie Calzone that sat before us. The king-size, oblong and voluptuous mound of dough looked like a fully packed steamship filling the large oval platter.
R: Zel recovered from her shock and cut it in half for us to share. The dough was as voluptuous as it looked and the generous portion of soymeat filling was soft and tasty. The few grilled veggies inside included green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms, leaving us with lots of dough and soymeat. We would have preferred less soymeat and more veggies. Zel doused her calzone with a few sprinkles of hot sauce among the condiments on the table.
Z: Our third dish, the Falafel Plate, never came until Reuben gave Nick, the counter assistant, a reminder. After a patient wait, Nick delivered a Falafel in a Pita--not what we had ordered. When our order finally came, we learned they were out of hummus--surprising for an Israeli restaurant.
R: The falafel balls were an attractive deep brown, crisp, and tasty, especially when dipped into the small bowl of thick, creamy tahini sauce. Accompaniments included a mound of diced tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced pickles, and several green olives.
Z: Two refrigerated cases held a variety of Snapple, juice drinks, and sodas, but our preference is water, Mother Nature's recommended thirst quencher. Among the Hot Entrees on the menu were Italian dishes like Angel Hair Pasta, Manicotti, Lasagna, Eggplant Parmigiana, and an Israeli egg dish called Shakshuka. Mexican specialties ranged from Nachos and Burritos to Quesadillas and Enchiladas and even included Tortilla Pizzas. The menu has a definitive vegetarian focus with many dishes centered on cheese, but vegans could find more than enough to enjoy.
R: Because the restaurant opens at 10:00 o'clock in the morning, it features a variety of omelettes, salads, and sandwiches. Their French fries have gained an exceptional reputation and include a variety of toppings like cheese, barbecue, and a spicy sauce. There were a few menu items that seemed out of place, but there they were--Fish Burger in Bun, Tuna in a Pita, and Tuna Melt--they're real fish, yet the restaurant describes itself as vegetarian!
Z: While the foods don't deliver pizazz or nuance, they are wholesome, familiar family favorites. We didn't see any whole-grain pizzas or calzones coming out of the kitchen, nor did we see any bean dishes, but vegans could have a hearty meal from the many selections at very reasonable prices.
Brami's Kosher Pizza
Reviewed June 2007