Oda House in NY
11 July, 2013
Oda House in NY
I moved to New York earlier last year to pursue a post graduate degree. This may not have affected me as much if I had been fresh out from an undergraduate college, but I hadn’t been to school in over a decade and my brain and body were rebelling against myself imposed exhale into the world of academia by making me live in a constant state of hunger.
I gained weight by eating late night, and I mean late late
night, junk food and drinking coke and coffee. I forgot what real food was for 9 months of school. My only respite from monotonous diet of bags of chips and crackers came when a friend or family would visit from out of town and demand to be fed at a good New York restaurant. I have a lot of friends and family, therefore I was able to sample some of the very best of what New York restaurant scene has to offer. New York is a Mecca of multiethnic culinary inventions. Italian, French, Japanese, Thai, Austrian, Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, Spanish, Moroccan, Turkish, you name it. But it wasn’t until after the Georgian Cultural Festival held in Atlanta in May and hosted by ‘Everything Georgian, Inc’ – a nonprofit that I am a member of, that I realized just how much I missed Georgian food. And so it was ironic that I found Oda House, authentic Georgian restaurant in the heart of Manhattan when I only had one month of school left.
It was by chance, that I found Oda House. Having been so occupied with school and the nonprofit, I had completely forgotten to plan out my own birthday party. Because cooking for my own birthday party was out of question and in a  rush to find a place I can celebrate with few of my friends and family, someone suggested the Oda House in lower east side. So I called, made reservations, and let my friends know where and when. It was a Thursday night, quiet and relaxed. I didn’t need to make reservations as the small space was almost unoccupied, and for me it was a blessing that I fear I will never feel again at Oda, because since that night it has become a necessity to call in a reservation. The restaurant is booming, and for a good reason. The head chef Maia Acquaviva is not only a great cook, but a fantastic host. Because my birthday fell on a quiet night (probably due to the fact the restaurant had been only open for a few days), I was able to speak with Maia and congratulate her on the opening, and when she found out it was my birthday, I got royal treatment of champagne and cakes. Maia came to the US with a degree in a different field, but her love of baking and bad job market created a necessity to make a living for Maia in a foreign land, and she started by making cakes out of her apartment. Her cakes where so good that after making some money she finished culinary school and worked for restaurants before opening her own. My friends still rave about the pineapple cake that is Maia’s own creation and ask when we can go back. The reason they won’t go without me is because I know what to order, but to be honest the Georgian menu is simple and if something doesn’t make sense, at Oda House one only has to ask for the explanation. The last time I was at Oda, there were two Americans on a date and they looked confused at the menu, someone at the next table who was also American, but had been to the restaurant before offered to help them choose what to get. The restaurant creates a friendly atmosphere, where the experience of dinning is not a solitary one but a communal enjoyment. It does get impossibly busy and the wait staff may take awhile to get back with food or drinks, but those are things that are easy to work out. The point is that it is nice to find a Georgian restaurant that caters to everyone, not just the Georgians and Russians in Brighton Beach, where I’ve been three times and every time I feel like I’ve stepped into the Soviet time warp.
Oda is modern day Georgian restaurant. The owners are smart enough to understand that they are not running a restaurant in Georgia, but in US, and they have kept everything that is traditionally appealing about Georgian food and Georgian hospitality and has updated its open door policy, so that everyone can enjoy it. I can’t say enough good things about this place. I hope more Georgian restaurants with such business sensibilities and promise open up in US. If you would like to see more photos and follow their progress, check them out on Facebook and their website www.odahouse.com. And no, I have not gotten paid for this review, although I do have many more sleepless nights coming up while writing my thesis, so I wouldn’t say no to some pineapple cake.

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