249 Pearl St, Somerville
The Turkish word "sarma" has many meanings. It translates to: something wrapped, rolled, enveloped, a bite-sized morsel…you get the idea. Chef Cassie Piuma has modeled her dishes (many of which are, well, enveloped in flaky pastry or wrapped in grape leaves) on meyhane, the bar bites you would eat in a tavern if you were in Istanbul. Sarma’s parsnip fritters with crushed nuts are perfect—and even more perfect with a cold beer. The beef jerky in a sticky, syrupy date molasses pairs well with wine. And every bite of the mezze (Middle Eastern tapas) brings a different flavor and texture—some hot, some cold, some just wildly and excitingly foreign. Bright Turkish plates adorn the walls, while seats are upholstered in multihued traditional fabrics imbuing the space with a casual, celebratory atmosphere. Even the drinks—full of flavors like orange blossom, rose water, and oh so much mint—are a nod to the Arabian Peninsula.
21 Union Square, Somerville
There are a couple of ways to approach a meal at Juliet: You could make a reservation for the prix-fixe menu, or you could chance it, stroll in, and the à la carte menu is all yours. This level of what can only be described as pageantry is entirely worth it for the French-tinged food—runny omelettes flecked with breadcrumbs, or a Bostonian salade Niçoise (marinated mussels instead of tuna), which, when made with premium ingredients, is one of the most satisfyingly healthy meals to eat. For the planners who booked tables, the set menus change all the time and are based around regional cuisines—the Juliet interpretation of the dishes of the Basque coast, for example—keeping it fresh for the regulars.
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