Please let me preface my review by mentioning that Sarma, pronounced by Armenians as Sar (roll the r)-mah was a dish my grandmother prepared that left you thirsty for three days! Green cabbage leaves were boiled until pliable and then wrapped around a mixture of meat and rice, heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and spices. May I also mention that my Kolligian family lived in Somerville soon after coming to the United States a century ago so it’s kind of ironic to me that now there is a restaurant named Sarma nearby, but I digress…
Located on Pearl Street in Somerville, Massachusetts, Sarma is a joint collaboration between Ana Sortun, famed owner of Oleana and Sofra Bakery, and Cassie Piuma who was her chef de cuisine at Oleana. Cassie taught one of the cooking demonstrations some friends and I have frequented at Sofra over the past few years and she is truly a culinary genius. Our little group of four heard about Sarma opening the last time we attended a class and got the first reservation we could.
Walking into Sarma, you immediately get the vibe you are going to have a good time and a great meal. Warm colors on the walls and soft lighting were inviting. Seating is varied – we were seated at a traditional table with comfortable chairs, but the rest of the restaurant was set up with banquettes which were covered in eclectic fabrics. There was a very large bar, perfect for eating alone or with a few friends. We were here on a Tuesday and it was a little post-Thanksgiving quiet. I would love to see it hopping on a weekend!
Our server was very attentive and started us with a cocktail. Two of us ordered wine and two of us ordered the Elettaria, a combination of Plantation Rum, Lime, Cardamom and Ginger. It was pretty fabulous. The menu is all “small plates” and our server suggested we order 3 per person to share. We decided to order 9, 3 short of his suggestion because Sarma also offers additional menu items “dim-sum” style. Servers walk around with plates of meze which are not on the menu and you can choose to add it to your order or decline the dish. Fun! We were very full by the time we left, but I am glad we went as a foursome so we could try out so many menu items.
Here is what we ordered and quite honestly, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch:
Lamb Kofte Sliders (tasted just like losh)
Seven Layer Hummus (a combination of hummus, tabouli, lentil salad, olives, avocado and 2 more layers I can remember!)
Bay Scallops – this might have been my favorite. Scallops mixed with basturma brown butter, cauliflower and currants
Fatoush – definitely order something acidic like a salad to counterbalance the strong flavors in most of the dishes
Brussels Sprouts Brava
Moroccan Fried Shrimp – these were insanely good and served with lettuce, vermicelli noodles and shaved kohlrabi for making wraps
Haloumi Cheese wrapped in grapeleaves and grilled
Braised Beef Crepe served over pistachio-creamed spinach with tomato jam
For our two “dim-sum” choices, we enjoyed the sesame chicken served with a tahini remoulade, and a whipped feta topped with greens. We declined deviled eggs.
For dessert at the time we visited, Sarma was only offering frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings including Aleppo spiced pineapple, granola and baklava. We chose salted caramel and it didn’t disappoint. Coffee and mint tea rounded out the meal.
We did ask how frequently the menu would change and the answer wasn’t completely clear. Sounded like the menu will stay in place for awhile and some of the dim sum options will rotate.
Parking is a little challenging so leave some time to find a space.
Big, bold flavors, inventive interpretations of traditional dishes and unique flavor combinations all characterize the food of Sarma. Amy, Laura, Sheila and I all gave it high marks and we can’t wait to go back. Please let me know if you go and what dishes you try! Attached are pictures of the Braised Beef Crepe and the Bay Scallops. Enjoy my friends.