Sofra Opens, and We Are Hooked

1219247352Two good reasons why you should be glad to be living in Boston this week (aside from the fact that it’s been, what, five days since the last thunderstorm?):

1) Yesterday marked the opening of Ana Sortun and Maureen Kilpatrick’s long-awaited bakery/cafe Sofra (the name in both Turkish and Arabic, signifies a picnic or a sort of communal table) on the Cambridge/Belmont/Watertown line.

The concept had us from the start: The same Greek/Turkish/Lebanese flavors of Sortun’s award-winning Oleana (where Kilpatrick—also a repeat winner—is pastry chef), only with a more casual spin. And maybe less trouble nabbing a table?

Fat chance.

Even on opening day, the crowds were impressive (damnit), but who can blame them? The menu reads like something out of One Thousand and One Nights: warm pistachio katmer (Turkish pastry) with cream; orange-chocolate croissants; flatbreads stuffed with sesame, walnut, and zucchini; chicken shawarma with garlic sauce; Syrian-style hummus; chocolate-hazelnut baklava; Egyptial bread-and-butter pudding.

There’s a meze/hummus bar, a refrigerator case with fresh produce from Siena Farms (run by Ana’s husband Chris), a wall of kilim-strewn benches for noshing in-house, and a full cafe lineup, from coffee drinks (the beans are from Rao’s) to appropriately exotic teas and juices.

2) Another long-awaited starter: The rebirth of historic Restaurant Marliave, which first opened at 10 Bostworth street in 1885. The place was shuttered in 2006 for non-payment of taxes, but Scott Herritt of Beacon Hill’s Grotto stepped in and has painstakingly brought the space back to its original glory.

The downstairs bar opened last week. The upstairs restaurant will roll out this weekend, featuring its signature view and a menu of Continental classics (butter-poached lobster, beef Wellington). We’ll bring you an inside view next week.