Although there are a fairly good number of Middle Eastern restaurants in the Boston area, Persian cuisine is not all that easy to find. In fact, if you want options for this kind of fare, one of the few places to go is Watertown, which has several dining spots that feature Persian food. East Watertown tends to be the area to go to for both Middle Eastern and Persian restaurants, but there is also a cozy little Persian spot in the center of Watertown called Molana Restaurant that not only has excellent food, but is also a comfortable place with a nice overall nice atmosphere
Molana is located on a narrow side street within a stone's throw of Watertown Square that is nevertheless very easy to miss. The block that the restaurant is in also is home to a couple of other dining spots, including one that is actually directly above Molana. From the outside, Molana gives off an intimate, almost sultry feel with its warm lights, large front windows, and attractive brick front. The interior of the restaurant is similarly attractive, with blue sconces and hanging blue lights, ceiling fans, burnt orange walls adorned with traditional art, and a good amount of exposed brick. The front area includes a few window tables, while the back has a counter section for takeout orders. There are only a handful of tables in the smallish spot, but they are well-spaced, allowing for a little bit of privacy and the chance for some quiet conversation.
Persian cuisine typically includes items that you might find in Indian restaurants as well as Middle Eastern dining spots, so some of the dishes at Molana may seem familiar. Both the lunch and dinner menus includes such well-known items as stuffed grape leaves, homemade yogurt, tabouli, barley soup, and a number of kabobs. But there are also traditional Persian dishes that diners may be less familiar with, such as ashe reshteh, which is a wonderfully earthy and spicy noodle soup with vermicelli noodles, split peas, kidney beans, rice, spinach, green onions, and herbs such as cilantro and parsley. Another interesting dish is the adas polo with chicken, which is basically chicken seasoned with herbs and spices and served with basmati rice that is mixed with a sweet and savory combination of raisins and lentils. The kabob-e-kubideh may seem familiar to those who have had kofta, as the dish includes delectable strips of ground beef that are seasoned and cooked over an open fire. Another beef entree is the kabob-e-barg, which in the case of Molana, is a rich-tasting and tender marinated beef tenderloin (lamb is often used as well for this dish) that is also cooked over an open fire. A combination plate featuring the previous two dishes (called kabob-e-soltani) is offered as well. Other offerings at Molana are lamb and salmon dishes as well as a vegetarian plate. Wine and beer are available, including some from the Middle East, and Persian tea is also offered. Desserts include rolet, which is a type of rolled sponge cake.
With complex, flavorful dishes, a pleasant atmosphere, and friendly service, Molana is certainly a great choice for those who like Middle Eastern and Central Asian foods. And with the added benefits of moderate prices and easy parking (there is a large lot across the street), there is very little not to like about this charming dining spot just north of Watertown Square.
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