Owned by Artur Andronic, the idea for Moldovan Restaurant was born in 2015, after Andronic completed his MBA at Suffolk University. After returning to Moldova to spend a year deeply researching the cuisine and finalizing a business plan, Andronic came back to Boston with his wife, and put his plan into action.
Following a few delays and changes over the course of a year, Andronic finally opened Moldovan Restaurant to the public with huge success, as many had been watching the restaurant slowly come to life over the past few months. Customers, intrigued by the cheerful, traditional Moldovan music that drifts out onto the sidewalk and the modern yet colorful decor, were drawn to the restaurant out of curiosity, only to find their sense of wonder piqued once they looked at the menu.
Andronic noted that the Moldovan cuisine is difficult to explain with words alone, for the ingredients and traditional flavors can seem simple at first. These flavors also resemble the hearty flavors found in Romanian and Russian cuisine—both cultures that influenced Moldova because of their close proximity and their strong empires in centuries past. Andronic emphasizes that although Moldovan chefs rely on fairly basic ingredients such a meat, potatoes, dill, tomatoes and parsley, their preparation of those ingredients is what sets the cuisine apart.
“It is very hearty, and it is comfort food if you would label it. I would probably use more comfort food than something exotic,” Andronic said. “By explaining it, by saying ‘pie’ there’s not really a good explanation in English when you try to translate that dish and say ‘pie filled with cow cheese’ and stuff like that … it doesn’t really give you an idea of how the dish is really going to be like. To help out with that, we developed our menu to have pictures in them and a short explanation, but pictures basically is the best way to portray how our cuisine would look like on the plate, and that makes the decision a lot easier.”
Those pictures reveal a world of beautifully composed dishes that customers cannot help but want to explore. In recent weeks, intricate pies with stunning tops made from overlapping pieces of flaky dough, and filled with everything from savory cheese to sweet cherries, have been popular, along with warm and filling meat stews. Andronic also notes the popularity of Sarmale, which are delicately hand-rolled cabbage and grape leaves stuffed with a chicken and rice mixture.
On the sweeter side, Moldovan Restaurant also offers Cusma Lui Gugta—pyramids of cherry-stuffed crepes covered with mounds of whipped creme.
But these detailed and intricate items of food are difficult to prepare due to the time and care they require, which make the huge rushes that Moldovan Restaurant has experienced on the opening weekends, although very exciting, stressful to cope with despite the restaurant’s more limited soft opening menu.
“Everything was selling so fast. We worked the whole week doing prep for the opening, and we basically sold out every single thing within two days,” Andronic said. “We were so short on everything that we were constantly prepping per order. We were prepping the pies as we were getting the order in.”
Once they saw how that opening weekend went, Andronic said, they restructured and got more cooks and a better idea of what they were supposed to do in the back of the house, and how to prepare for the next day. He said it was fun to see that the products were so well accepted and that people love them so much.
As much as Andronic wants share to delicious food with the greater Boston community, he is eager to share even more about the Moldovan culture. He reveals that at its heart, he hopes that Moldovan Restaurant will become a hub of Moldovan culture—something that is given little attention, as some customers have come in curious as to what exactly Moldova is. Given that this is only the second restaurant in the entire United States devoted to sharing Moldovan cuisine (the first is in New York), Andronic’s goal is certainly feasible.
“We wanted to have this place as a cultural middle ground where locals would come in here and find something new about this cuisine, about the county,” Andronic said. “Ask us, we’re happy to tell everyone more about our country, about our history, about our winemaking, about our cuisine … and we [want to] get them excited about what they’re eating.”
Featured Image by Madeleine D’Angelo/ Heights Editor