Personally, I don’t know much about Mediterranean cuisine. I never really tried it and I hardly hear much about it. In fact, the term “Mediterranean” itself seems to conjure up so many images in my mind that sometimes it prevents me from actually pinpointing exact countries that contribute to its cuisine, other than Greece and Turkey. But whatever the case, Mediterra Neo was a pleasant surprise for me during one off trip I had with my parents for lunch.
Walking into the place, one can easily take in the pleasant, yet vibrant setting of the restaurant, with its slightly dimmed lighting, brightly colored wallpaper, and pastel schemed dishware. The place itself was of a decent size, being no larger than a modest café, which further added to the homely atmosphere that it projected.
Apparently, the basic tradition of lunch that is enjoyed in this setting was of a communal fashion, where everyone in the group would order several small dishes, which they would then proceed to share among each other. Personally, I found this to be very advantageous, given that this easily made room for variety and that the dishes themselves further accommodated that with extremely reasonable pricing.
Out the menu, we decided to indulge ourselves with some pan fried calf’s liver, stuffed mushrooms (Portobello mushrooms stuffed with cheese and herbs), Provencale style mussels (complete with fennel, shallots, and Provencale seasonings), and Andalusian meatballs, which were lamb meatballs drenched in tomato sauce.
Overall, the calf’s liver had strong sausage taste that left off with a smooth liver finish–perfect on its own or with pita bread, which the restaurant constantly supplied for free. However, it came off as a bit dry at times, which, although was a bit of a nuisance, wasn’t too much of a problem. The Provencale mussels came in abundant proportion, which was quite wonderful in light of its price of $5. The mussel’s themselves were nicely seasoned with a flavor being unique enough to be apparent, but modest enough not to be overwhelming.
The Andalusian meatballs, however, were the lowest part of the meal with its natural flavoring being so overpowered by its seasoning and sauce that I found myself literally tasting more sauce and herbs than actual meat. However, to offset this negativity, the stuffed Portobello mushroom managed to shine through and carry most of the meal on its shoulders with its exquisite flavors and perfect texture. I, for one, immensely enjoyed its wonderful complimenting of cheese and herbs, which acted to enhance the mushroom’s down to earth flavors rather than conceal it. This especially went well when combined with the starchiness of pita bread. However, the Portobello dish did have a slightly singed aftertaste that was a bit offsetting. But fortunately enough, this didn’t subtract heavily from the experience at all.
When the check was given, the total was added up and it came out to be around $23, with tip and tax, which was excellent considering that it easily fed a party three adults. So overall, here’s the concluding run down for Mediterra Neo:
– Offers a tasty meal with exotic flavors.
– Convenient provision of unlimited pita bread.
– Can have a wonderfully filling lunch for 3 for a little over $20, which is extremely reasonable for such a meal of good variety.
– The stuffed portabella mushroom.
– Some of the dishes may need an acquiring of taste. Others, such as the lamb meatballs, may not even appeal to many people.
– Based on the menu, dinner could be a bit pricier, though people could stick with the small dishes to keep their bill down.
So weighing in all these factors, the overall rating comes out to be solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. Leaving the restaurant, my parent’s said that they greatly enjoyed the meal and I, for one, definitely had to agree with them. Personally, I found myself already considering a second visit to Mediterra Neo simply for some extra helpings of the stuffed mushroom. Mediterra Neo is located on 23 North Broad Street at Ridgewood, NJ.