Marani Review

by Frayda
cornish hen chicken salad with lettuce roasted vegetables, tomato dressing and pomegranate, stuffed eggplant side dish

Marani is a Georgian Kosher restaurant located in Queens. The Kosher Cactus visited Marani in November of 2021. This review was written in November of 2021.

Where  is Marani located?

Marani is located at 97-26 63rd St, in Rego Park, Queens. The restaurant is between 97th and 98th Streets, just off the 495 highway. 

There is street parking available outside Marani, and if you can’t see any open spaces, you can try the nearby residential streets. 

The E, M and R subway lines stop at 63rd street, if you’d rather take public transport. The station is about 5 minutes from the restaurant. 

You can also take the Q38 bus, which stops at 98th Street. 

What time is Marani open?

marani restaurant inside empty seats
Modern chic, but beautifully simple: Marani Restaurant

The restaurant is open from 5PM to 10:30PM, Monday through Thursday, and 1PM to 10PM on Sundays. They are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. 

What is the vibe at Marani?

Marani is warm and fun. The food is new and delicious, and the servers are helpful and friendly. The staff were so okay with us lingering over our food (and it was good food! We wanted to linger!).  The space has quiet lighting but loud patrons- there were four birthday parties, and the staff seemed to easily accommodate the large crowds.

Although the lighting is dim, and the overall feeling of the room is more upscale, there were so many whimsical touches to the space; rams horns anchored to one wall, chalk signs reminding people to be optimistic… There were black and white pictures on the wall, and a gorgeous washing station with pre-wrapped bread at the front.

Do I need to make a reservation?

Roasted eggplants and tomatoes with pomegranate and fresh herbs
Roasted eggplants are a staple of Georgian cooking… Ajapsandali at its best

Yes, you should certainly make a reservation. You can do so by calling the restaurant (anytime after 1PM), or google-searching for Marani. 

Do they deliver?

Yes, Marani delivers. You can order food via GrubHub or Seamless. The full menu is not available for delivery, but most items are. 

What kind of food do they serve at Marani?

pickles, pickled cabbage,  pickled tomatoes
Plate of Pickles

Marani serves incredible Georgian food.

Quick geography lesson: Georgia connects Central Europe with the Middle East.

Quick history lesson: Because it was on the silk road (trade routes that connected the Far East to Western Europe), Georgian cuisine has influence from everywhere! The country has developed its own insanely good dishes, and is now a destination for amazing food. 

All that to say- don’t be intimidated by any of the food at Marani! Even though the dishes may sound unfamiliar, they are a blend of recognizable flavours and exotic tastes. Georgian cuisine is heavy on nuts and spices and fresh herbs, and uses plenty of eggplants, tomatoes and love (yes, love). 

Caveat: the portions are huge. Please arrive hungry. Starving, even. We ordered 2 apps, a bowl of soup each (it’s getting so cold in New York), and 2 mains to share- and we took more than half of the food home. The portions are extremely generous.

What is on the menu at Marani?

beef dumplings with sauteed tomato and onion and tomato dipping sauce
Pelmini

Eggplant with Walnuts.

Exactly as it sounds, this delicious appetizer is strips of eggplant that are deep-fried, and then wrapped neatly around an incredible walnut and pomegranate paste.  I have seen versions of this dish featured in Bukharian and Middle Eastern cookbooks, but this was actually my first time tasting anything like it- and I loved it. The paste is very nutty, but blended to a creamy, smooth consistency. The dish has a spicy undertone, but overall is interesting and beautiful.

Adjaruli.

This is a bread twist, filled with incredible sauteed beef and mushrooms, flavored with tarragon, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg.  It feels a little like meat pizza, with incredibly soft meat on top, but with an extra little twist of bread on the ends. The egg on top was perfectly crisp, and the yolk burst open perfectly to add a creamy sauce-like touch to this mouthwatering dish.

Khinkali.

Little dumplings (like Xiao Long Bao Chinese dumplings). These are filled with beef and lamb, and covered with fresh herbs. To be honest, we did not taste them, but I saw them at the table nearest us, and the girls there seemed to enjoy them immensely. We debated ordering them for a minute or two, but when we saw how much food we had already ordered… next time though!

pot of harcho soup with tomato and fresh herbs on top
Harcho- the bst soup at Marani… and in NYC, probably

Pelmeni.

Fried beef dumplings, with an incredible onion and tomato stir-fry on top. This comes with a side of spicy tomato dipping sauce. The meat inside these is so flavorful! These were amazing, and very filling for a starter- the little ceramic pot they arrive in had about 20 mini dumplings, which was far more than we could finish. The dipping sauce was like a thin tomato marinara (but house-made), and went perfectly with the dumplings.

Chanahi.

In case you were wondering, this is pronounced Cha- (like China) -Na- Chi (like challah). This dish is slow-cooked eggplant, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes, with beef and onions, topped with fresh herbs. It is served on an enormous plate, and between us, we could not finish even half of it (granted, this was after apps and soup, but it was still huge).

This stew is a masterpiece. It has a subtle taste of spices and chili, but without major heat. All of the vegetables are braised in the stew just long enough to retain their natural texture and flavor, but adding to the depth and wholesomeness of the overall dish. This was an absolute winner.

Pickled Plate.

Featuring cucumbers, cabbage and green tomatoes. All pickled to perfection- crunchy and delicious. This plate was a surprisingly refreshing addition to our meal- various fresh vegetables that added a raw, crunchy consistency to the majority-cooked food.

What else is on the menu?

adjaruli bread with beef and herbs baked inside, fried egg ontop
Adjaruli, baked to order, plus a fried egg. Heaven.
  • Starters
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Hot Appetizers
  • Georgian Breads 
  • Entrees
  • Grill
  • Sides
  • Drinks

What is the best dish at Marani?

Harcho! I am biased, because I have memories of this incredible soup from my childhood. Marani’s version of this soup is a feast for the palate. It is made with a tomato base, and spiced with pepper and chili.

The soup is extremely hearty, with portions of both rice and lamb in the bowl. On the menu, the restaurant writes that this soup is made with ‘love’ as one of the ingredients- and you can taste it! 

What is the service like?

dumplings with beef and pepper
Classic dumplings, a.k.a Khinkali

Marani has really great service. The restaurant has come to be known as the spot in New York City to get mouthwatering Georgian food, and have kept up this reputation for many years. The service matches the food: the staff were knowledgeable about the menu, made appropriate suggestions, and brought out the food fairly quickly. They were also careful to stagger our dishes (and they even asked us before if we wanted everything together, or staggered!)

The apps came out and almost immediately after they were cleared the soup came out, and right after we were done… Well, you get the idea. The restaurant was pretty full when we visited, and to my amazement, the service was still very, very good. 

What Hashgacha are they under?

Marani is under the Kosher supervision of the Vaad HaRabbanim of Queens. 

Does Marani serve drinks?

Did you know that Marani means wine-cellar in Georgian? Well, now you do! Living up to their name, the restaurant offers a wide selection of premium wines, plus house-cocktails, beers and hard liquor. 

I would 10/10 recommend the Georgian soda (non-alcoholic). We ordered a bottle to share, and it is sweet, fizzy and delicious. When we visited, we opted not to drink alcohol, but it was a hard decision. The tables all around us kept getting orders from the bar- house creations and standard cocktails- that looked amazing.

Are there vegan/ vegetarian options on the menu?

Some of the incredible dishes available at Marani

Lobio, kidney-bean stew, is a main dish on the menu that is vegetarian. It comes with Modji, Georgian cornbread, and features aromatic and flavorful spices. That being said, there are plenty of non-main options (starters, hot appetizers and even soup) that are all vegetarian and even vegan. If you choose to eat at Marani, there will be something for everyone. 

Is Marani kid-friendly?

Although the restaurant is not specifically designed for children, there are a few high chairs available at Marani. They also have a few menu items for picky eaters- anything off the grill, like Chicken Skewers, plus a side of French Fries or Sweet Potato Fries. 

Is Marani wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the restaurant is wheelchair accessible, and there are also accessible restrooms. 

Does Marani serve desserts?

Yes, Marani serves desserts. On the advice of our waiter, we ordered a dish of Cigars for dessert- and we did not regret it!

Cigars are little wrapped pastries (in cigar shape, obviously), with a gentle walnut cream filling inside. They are served fresh from the oven, and lightly dusted with confectioners sugar. It was a perfect suggestion- the waiter could see that we were full, but still wanted something sweet. Cigars, plus a pot of mint tea. (Yes, a pot. With fresh mint leaves on the side. So classy.)

Also on the dessert menu is a Napoleon Cake. It is made a little differently than the standard bakery cake- Marani’s version is extremely flakey, with a sticky cream filling between the sheets of pastry. Instead of the traditional chocolate ganache on top, this Napoleon is dusted with simple refined sugar. It really encompasses Marani’s entire menu- somewhat familiar flavor, completely new dish. Next time!

Final Thoughts

Osso Bucco

Marani is excellent. If you are looking for an out-of-the-box food experience, and a superb restaurant to eat at, Marani is for you. I loved everything about it, especially the food. For our meal of 2 apps, soups, and 2 mains, plus drinks for both of us, we paid just over $165. And it was worth every bite. 

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