Hundreds of times over the past 12 years, all of us have passed the restaurant with the yellow awning at the corner of Willis Avenue and the LIE. But only those of us who have stopped know that Ravagh Persian Grill is far more exotic and inviting than its setting.
Step inside, and you are suddenly wrapped in the aroma of rice, stews and grilling meat, amid an open and airy dining room with large skylights and tables set with crisp white tablecloths. The tapestries on the walls, as well as pictures of Persepolis and the bridges of Isfahan, signal that this will be very much an Iranian experience.
At Ravagh, which means “heaven” in Persian, the meal starts with a basket of hot bread, accompanied by butter, yogurt sauce and a spicy cilantro spread. On the cold, rainy day I visited, I replaced appetizers with a cup of Persian noodle soup, ashe reshte, which is made of finely chopped herbs, beans, flat noodles and a spoonful of yogurt.
For the main course, I had lamb shank, which was cooked in a red sauce, and came with a green rice (the rice is not actually green, dill and lima beans give it that hue). My friend ordered the grilled Cornish hen, which is cut into small pieces grilled and basted with saffron, lemon and butter, and served over rice. The traditional kebab dishes come with white rice, but in keeping with today’s dietary trends, the rice can be substituted with grilled vegetables or a salad.
Restaurant manager Brian Kuli recommended the special of the day, a lamb filet and ground lamb kebob. It sounded so good that I took it home for dinner. The lamb filets were wonderfully juicy and tender, and the ground lamb (marinated in onions, salt and pepper and grilled over charcoal) was, well, heavenly.
Kuli said that Ravagh never uses frozen meat or fillers. It is a mandate of the owners, the Tehrani family.
“All of their meats, poultry and seafood are bought every day from a wholesaler and prepared in their warehouse and distributed to their five restaurants,” said Kuli.
Yes, there are four other Ravaghs—two in Manhattan, one in Edgewater, N.J., and the most recent addition on Route 25A in Huntington.
Ravagh Persian Grill is at 210 Mineola Ave. in Roslyn Heights. The phone number is 516-484-7100.