The first recorded Albanian restaurant in London was opened in 1908 by Kosovo-born Tony Precha, who went on to own a trio of cafes serving national dishes such as layered pancakes (flija) and filo pastry pies (pite) in Walbrook, Gresham Street and Great Tower Street.
It’s a fun fact, considering that finding more than a handful of Albanian restaurants in 2018, or, indeed any restaurants from its neighbouring countries in the Western Balkans — Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia, and Serbia — is a particularly trying task. Give it a quick search and expect to be led to more Turkish wedding venues than homes to dishes like sarma (stuffed cabbage) and cevapi (small minced-meat kebabs).
This is no coincidence; the cooking talent of the Balkan region has been largely put to work producing the cuisine of its more marketable cousins: Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Say ‘miredita’ (good day in Albanian) to the waiter at an independent Italian restaurant, and the response might be a surprise.
For adventurous eaters, somebody who has toured the region, or a member of the diaspora, there are still places to find that traditional Mediterranean flavour with a Balkan twist.Read More