It's a good bet that New Yorkers who've come to love Georgian dumplings, salads, and hot, cheesy breads first got to know the cuisine in Brooklyn. That's where they've had to go to enjoy it—often alongside Russian expats hungering for flavors from the former Soviet republics. Now they can score Georgian food in Manhattan at Oda House, which just opened in the East Village space previously occupied by Caffe Buon Gusto.
Executive Chef Maia Acquaviva—a native of Georgia and an alumna of Russian restaurant Mari Vanna in the Flatiron—makes a knockout adjaruli khachapuri (pictured), a boat-shaped loaf of soft, pizzalike yeast bread topped with feta, mozzarella, and an egg; it was "the standout dish of the night. Amazing," declares pravit, a Chowhound who checked out Oda House before its grand opening this past weekend. Also recommended are khinkali, a huskier cousin to Chinese soup dumplings with a brothy filling of beef, pork, and herbs, and a trio of pkhali (vegetable dishes)—spinach, leeks, and eggplant (reminiscent of baba ghanoush) with pomegranate seeds. Servers are friendly and helpful and the vibe is casual, says pravit, who likens it to the atmosphere at Kafana, the nearby Serbian grill.
The vibe seems somewhat tonier at Pepela, a Georgian place that opened quietly last year in a townhouse on East 30th Street. Originally a private venue—and still a meeting place for presidents—it now appears to welcome all comers and recently rolled out weekday lunch specials. No reports yet from the 'hounds.
Oda House [East Village]
76 Avenue B (at E. Fifth Street), Manhattan
Pepela [Midtown South]
104 E. 30th Street (between Park and Lexington avenues), Manhattan
Photo of Oda House's adjaruli khachapuri by Chowhound user pravit