The term Anatolia refers to the region in the Mediterranean that forms the greater part of Turkey. Burcu Mukus, a native of Turkey, and her husband, Sevan Yesilcimen, who is Armenian, thought it would be the perfect name for their new restaurant in New Town.
The pair opened Anatolia Bar & Grill on Center Street in July 2018. Previously, Mukus owned and operated the Turkish restaurant Istanbul on Jamestown Road with her father. When that restaurant’s lease ended, Mukus and Yesilcimen relocated to New Town, renaming the restaurant and expanding the menu to include Greek, Armenian, and Kurd dishes in addition to Turkish cuisine.
“We just felt that the name Anatolia represents us and our family and heritage in a better way,” said Mukus. “We love it here in New Town. We love our neighbors. Moving here has been such a blessing.”
Anatolia’s menu includes a variety of Mediterranean appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The restaurant’s signature dish is the stuffed eggplant.
“It’s been my favorite dish since I was a little girl,” said Mukus. “It’s my mother’s recipe.”
In addition, Anatolia serves stuffed peppers, stuffed onions, and manti, which are beef dumplings served with a garlic yogurt sauce, sizzling butter, mint and crushed pepper. Lamb shanks, lamb chops, and lamb shawarma are also top sellers as well as the beef and chicken kebabs.
“And our baklava is one of the best in Williamsburg,” said Mukus.
Patrons interested in an adult beverage to go with their meal, can also choose from a selection of Turkish, Armenian, Greek, Italian and French wines as well as wines from California and various beers from the U.S. and the Mediterranean. There is also a specialty cocktail called the “pomosa.”
“One day, I had two ladies who came in and asked for mimosas, but I didn’t have any orange juice, so I used champagne and pomegranate juice,” said Mukus. “You can use it with any kind of champagne. It’s a really delicious drink.”
Mukus and Yesilcimen start each day at the restaurant at 6 a.m., prepping their menu from scratch.
“We serve our food fresh daily here because we love to have our own food served fresh,” said Mukus. “It’s hard work, but we love it. We want to treat each customer the way we want to be treated.”
The customers are what Mukus enjoys most about the business.
“I love socializing with people,” she said. “It is the best thing. I get to meet so many different people with so many different personalities.”
Eventually, Mukus would like to add live entertainment on Fridays at the restaurant as well as expand the patio so that more people can enjoy Anatolia Bar & Grill.
“We would love for everyone to come out and spend time together with us,” she said.
Want to go?
Anatolia Bar & Grill
5203 Center St. in New Town
Hours: Mondays, noon-8 p.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m; closed Sundays. Reservations are recommended, call 220-3840.
Stuffed Eggplant, Courtesy of Burcu Mukus
4 baby Italian eggplants
½ lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dry mint
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped walnut (optional)
Puncture holes in the eggplant and deep fry for 10-15 minutes. Cut eggplant down the middle, and smush insides with a fork to make a paste. Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, and mint. Add ground beef and cook through. Stuff eggplant with the ground beef mixture and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Top with walnuts and add tomatoes and green peppers if desired. Serve eggplant with a rice or salad.