>> Aroma Cafe Mediterranean Delicatessen | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Aroma Cafe Mediterranean Delicatessen

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 🇧🇦

COVID-19 UPDATE: Tables and chairs have been pushed to one side and the small dining room is now a takeout and pickup area. The packaged goods are still available for purchase.

Back in 2005 when Aroma Cafe opened on the Westside, it was a way for its owner to fill the void he felt for his birthplace in Bosnia. Los Angeles has never had the strongest network of people from the Balkans, so it immediately became a place to get together with folks from across the region.
 
Now halfway through its second decade of life and over seven years since Jonathan Gold's praise for the pljeskavica, the restaurant is also a place to pick up your favorite ajvar, Bosnian snacks, drinks, sausages, and cheeses. A small Balkan grocery has been living in the corner for quite some time, and now combined with the refrigerated case has become a lifeline for many who can no longer dine in but still miss the tastes from back home.
 
Skip the grocery store line.

In better days, the restaurant was a bright and comfortable place to enjoy a meal. Tucked in the corner of the Rancho Park Plaza on Overland Avenue, the faux bricks and stucco inside replicating Mediterranean vibes have always felt appropriate for meals of Balkan favorites. Colorful paintings representing life near the sea look over diners.
 
For now, visitors can only peruse the shelves and place orders. You will see a car or two in the parking lot with someone inside waiting. But it is all worth it to bring home a meal and enjoy at home. Soon the dining room will be full again.
 
 

No matter whether you have eaten hundreds or never heard of it, the pljeskavica ($16.50, above), which is served on their housemade flatbread is a no-brainer. Somewhat surprisingly, only a handful of raw onions were served alongside the beef patty and bread, with no kajmak or ajvar to be seen.

Thankfully the bread and patty itself are delicious and can stand alone, the beef has plenty of spice rubbed into it and more onions. Serbians will claim this dish as their own, but it is wildly popular to eat all over the former Yugoslavia. Whether eating your grilled meats as small links known as ćevapi or in this form as a sandwich, nowhere is the meal complete without adding all of those onions and asking for more.


Perfect for chilly and rainy winter days is the Bosanki lonac ($16.95, above), or "Bosnian pot" named for the ceramic pots that it was originally prepared in. The idea is not far from the beef stews of many cultures, slow-cooked meat and vegetables in a savory broth.
 
If there is any criticism here it would only be in the lack of much meat in the stew, especially with the Westside price tag. Thankfully another piece of their delicious bread is included in the order, which soaks up the oily slick perfectly.
 


If you have not already stocked up with their chocolate bars and other Bosnian and Balkan snacks available at the counter, order the tufahiya ($6.50, above), a thoroughly Bosnian favorite dessert. Normally spelled tufahije, this is made from an apple poached in sugar water stuffed with walnuts and is served cold.

For to go orders, ask for the whipped cream and chocolate that is normally on top to be put to the side because it will of course melt.

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