A friend told me about this place that opened up in a former pizza shop. She heard about it from a friends of hers who is Moroccan, and who said that the food was very good. I know very little about Moroccan food myself, but I went there this evening and our dinner was delicious. We also got takeout from them a few weeks ago; more about that later.
The restaurant is located on a busy street corner. There's a Haitian grocery on the same block, and some of the on-street parking is restricted until 7pm, so finding a spot can be tricky by Malden standards (but nothing like Cambridge, Boston, Somverville). The interior layout still looks like a pizza shop, but a comfy one. They have 5-6 tables with dark vinyl (leatherette? naugahyde?) tablecloths and chairs, no booths. You sit a bit above street level and the room is lined with big windows so it was a good spot for peoplewatching. Oh, and I'd say it's within walking distance from the Malden Center T station, but a longish walk - 15 minutes from the station, or 20 if you stroll.
My friend had mentioned that they didn't have everything listed on the menu, so when we went in I asked what was available tonight. Sadly, theyno longer serve couscous every day - I guess it wasn't selling - they only offer it on Fridays. So, my DC and I chose a bastilla with chicken and a lamb dish that the owner described as lamb with prunes, a little sweet with savory. Oh, and mint tea.
We sat down and she first brought us a baket with four huge wedges of homemade wheat bread, a spongy, flat loaf. the bread was served with three small dishes of relishes: roasted eggplant, roated red and green peppers, and homemade hot sauce. All were delicious. Our tea arrived in a small metal teapot with two glasses; we were instructed to let it steep for a few minutes. The tea was sweet and minty. I peeked inside the teapot and saw a bright green spring of mint curled up on top of loose tea leaves. I was pretty happy already with just the tea, bread, and relishes.
We didn't have to wait very long for our food to arrive, though my friend said she had a ~30 minute wait for her couscous. The chicken bastilla was a mixture of shredded chicken, almonds and (I think) walnuts, with some sweetish spices (cinnamon?) and a bit of something actually sweet, maybe honey. It was wrapped in a few layers of crispy phyllo dough. The taste made me think of a chicken bacalva, which is better than it sounds...The bastilla itself was big- a large disc maybe 7" across and 1-2" high? My DC and I each ate just a quarter and she took the rest home for tomorrow' dinner. The filling was warm but not hot (the phyllo crust was completely cooked, though, so I don't *think* it was underdone). We both enjoyed it.
The lamb dish was a shank, set in a plate of yummy sauce (saffron and I'm guessing black pepper, cardamom?) with whole stewed prunes, and sprinkled with small roasted whole almonds and sesame seeds. The sauce was on the salty side for my taste but I don't think it was oversalted. The lamb was verrrry tender. It was an intensely flavored and delicious dish.
We didn't have room for dessert, which was too bad because I'd heard that their pastries were very good. Total bill, including tax, for two entrees, a small pot (2 glasses) of mint tea (I guess the relishes and bread came with the entrees), was $21.50. We were the only ones there for most of the 1-1/2 hours that we sat chatting and eating, which is too bad; I really hope this place makes it. The owners were very personable and warm, and the space is oddly cozy for an old pizza shop.
Re: our takeout experience, I sent my hubby over there a few weeks ago to pick up some takeout couscous. Long story short, at noon on a Saturday they had very little of the menu available and he waited almost an hour for them to make some falafel and brochettes (they brought out some sort of sweet pastry, as an apology, for him and the boys while he waited). Then an even longer story short, said takeout traveled to from Malden out to Wellesley and then on to Reading, when we finally got to eat our lunch...even after that long trip, I thought it was pretty darned good falafel. Again, I'm no expert but the falafel was light and fresh-tasting,and not fried within an inch of its life so that all you taste is crunchy: that falafel had flavor. The pita was soft and fresh, too. I will eat it again.
So to sum up: really tasty food at a great price, comfy space, spotty availability of menu items with the potential for a long wait. If you're in a hurry and have your heart set on a particular item, this might not be the place for you.(Who knows; if you call ahead, they just might make it for you). But overall I really like it and will go again soon.
Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem Street, Malden MA
Their takeout manu lists breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I think the sign on the door say they open at 9:30 am.
Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148
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