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The Quest for Albanian Food: Ask the Cleaning Lady

John-Paul Pagano | Apr 30, 2002 01:08 PM


I've read the scattered posts about NYC Albanian food. It seems like it's tough-going; either you run into the widespread phenomenon of Albanians masquerading as Italians, (e.g. Nino's, 1354 1st Avenue, Manhattan -- a great, campy experience: pricy but good food, excellent service, and always actual mafiosi at the bar), or you come up against the "members only" practice.

The last posts about this latter exclusivity were from nearly a year ago, so I was hoping that the people here could update me on the current situation with Albanian restaurants in NYC. Are the ones serving actual Albanian food still nearly all members-only? Has anything new opened up?

I was speaking with one of a few Albanian cleaning ladies in my office in mid-town, and she told me that Lydig Avenue in the Bronx is the center of a traditional Albanian neighborhood. I'm not sure what particular leg of Lydig she meant, as the language barrier was formidable. But I imagine one could travel there and look around, but only if the oft-mentioned New York Albanian xenophobia has waned...

A tip: I've noticed in the different offices I've inhabited in New York that a large part of the after-hours cleaning staff tends to be Albanian. I've struck up some friendships in the past before becoming intrigued by the cuisine, so I imagine any interested office-dwellers could carefully and respectfully approach their floor maintenance people. Possibly, you might get tips on how to penetrate the dismissive door guy at Gurra?

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