In case you're off to Persia in the near future, Ravagh, the new Persian restaurant and catering place in Little Neck on Northern Boulevard, , translates to "house of guests."
Persian-born Masoud is the chef/owner. This is Ravagh number two - there's another in Manhattan on East 30th Street. And Masoud's "Patoug" on the service road of the Horace Harding Expressway in Douglaston has been serving Persian food for the last eight or nine years. Neighboring Great Neck , as you may have surmised, has a large Persian population.
And yes, there is belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. When popular Persian singers perform there's a package deal with a special dessert of a plate of baklava, bamieh (a rose-water flavored sweet) and other treats.
The huge space is all in white, with a few columns and a bit of balcony seating. Two private rooms (one for 60, one for 50), have Persian paintings and handicrafts and a samovar from Russia.
Drinks include the licorice-flavored raki and special teas with herbs and saffron or teas flavored with rosewater an d cardomon.
Kabobs are featured on the menu - nine of them. We ordered the combination platter which features three - barg, koobideh and jujeh.
Koobideh is charbroiled, seasoned, ground beef and lamb, pressed around the skewer in a sausage shape and grilled. It is moist and wonderfully seasoned. Barq is juicy tenderloin strips marinated in a special blend and charbroiled. The chicken kabob has strips of marinated boneless breast grilled on an open fire. The trio comes on a mountain of rice plus a broiled whole tomato. Most dishes are on a mountain of rice. It is the heart and soul of Persian cooking. There are countless variations with berries, cherries, and vegetables, and one version is sour. The fish kabob is salmon served with green rice. (Ditto for lamb shanks marinated and simmered in a special sauce.)
And then there are stews - khoresh - to continue your Persian lesson. My khoresh tesenjan was crushed waInuts with boneless chicken cooked in pomegranate paste. I can attest to it being pleasantly exotic. (My dining companion commented that he'd like the dish with beef - but that's not the Persian way with walnuts.)
Let's back-track to the appetizers. The crispy dumplings stuffed with vegetables and chic peas are reminiscent of China. Kashk-bademjan, a smooth blend of cooked eggplant with onion, tomato sauce and seasoning was delicious. For a touch of salad I chose panir and sabzi. This is an unusual but delightful combination of basil, tarragon, watercress, radish and scallion arranged on a plate, sans dressing, but with a chunk of feta. You are to eat it with pita, the house bread, as an appetizer. The traditional Persian salads are chopped with cucumber, tomato, onion, parsley and green pepper.
There's Persian ice cream for dessert, a haunting blend of saffron, rosewater and pistachio which I find irresistible. And there is baklava.
Take-out lunches consist of four of the kabobs and a stew of the day. That wonderful skewer of charbroiled seasoned beef and lamb and the chicken breast kabob may also be had as a sandwich in pita.
There is catering for all occasions on and off premises. Belly dancer included?
THE BOTTOM LINE
All white. Large Persian grill restaurant and catering room. Belly dancing and music Friday and Saturday. Fine Persian cuisine.