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New Mediterranean spot serves up fresh, authentic fare

In a sea of pizza parlors and halal spots, a cozy new restaurant has popped up on Central Avenue, tucked between Easton Avenue and Hamilton Street. Namli serves Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine in a bright, open space that's removed from the hustle of New Brunswick’s main streets. 

The food is all fantastic. The menu consists of hot and cold appetizers, soups and salads, lots of grilled meat and a vegetarian entree section. The prices are reasonable, but the lunch specials are definitely the best deal. 

What sets Namli apart from other restaurants that make up the New Brunswick food scene is the quality of the ingredients and the care with which everything is prepared and presented. Every meal begins with a basket of warm pita and a sun-dried tomato dipping sauce. On my last visit, a friend and I started with the small, cold appetizer platter, which came with four cold appetizers of our choice. We chose the hummus, ezme, lebni and pilaki. The platter also came with a stuffed grape leaf. All of the appetizers were great, but our favorites were the pilaki and the ezme. Pilaki is a cold bean salad with tomatoes, onions, parsley, red pepper, sumac, lemon juice and olive oil. We chose it because it’s not a dish you see on every menu, and we were glad we did. The ezme, which is made with finely chopped tomatoes, peppers, walnuts, garlic and olive oil, was also excellent.

Next, we shared the Namli Mix Grill, which came with adana kebab, kofta kebab, gyro, lamb and chicken shish. The menu says it’s for two, but it could have easily fed three and then some. The platter comes served along with your choice of rice or bulgur wheat, two pieces of spiced fried flatbread and a side salad with grilled vegetables.

Everything on the platter was delicious and well-prepared. My favorite was the kofta kebab (like a Turkish meatball) — it was well-spiced and tender. The gyro was sliced incredibly thin, and both the chicken and lamb shish were juicy and flavorful. The adana kebab was also very well prepared. We were amazed by how excellent everything was, and by the more-than-generous portion. 

After your meal, make sure to get a Turkish coffee, which they prepare very well. There is also a great dessert selection with options like baklava and kunefe. Namli is a fantastic new addition to the area, and we can’t wait to go back. 

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