Will Afghan kebabs break the curse? I certainly hope so. Sami’s Kabab House is the newest tenant in the Glen Cove property that has housed short-lived restaurants serving Italian, Brazilian barbecue and Greek. And it brings something new, exciting and affordable to Glen Cove.
The restaurant, which opened in June, has a strong pedigree: It’s a second location of the well-regarded Sami’s Kabab House in Astoria, Queens (est. 2016). Atiq Zaman, manager and brother of owner, Sami Zaman, said that a number of Queens customers live in and around Glen Cove, and they encouraged Sami to open on Long Island.
The concise menu features lamb chops and seven grilled kebabs: lamb, kofta (ground beef and lamb), chicken breast, chicken thigh, chicken kofta, salmon and shrimp. I tried the lamb and the chicken thigh and, while the former was very good, the latter blew me away. First, it wasn’t chunks of thigh meat, it was whole thighs, and enough of them to feed two or three. The boneless thighs are tinted scarlet from their lengthy marination in paprika and cumin (among other seasonings) and grilled to that perfect point between succulence and char.
Kebabs are all served with Qabuli Pulao, a pilaf made with long-grain basmati rice that is garnished with shredded carrots and raisins that have been glazed with sweet, cardamom-scented syrup. The same rice serves as a bed for a meaty lamb shank in the Uzbeki Qabuli Pulao. There are plenty of vegetarian mains served with rice; eggplant and okra are particularly esteemed in Afghan cooking.
Starters include the two great Afghan dumplings, mantu (filled with meat) and aushak (filled with leeks and scallions), as well as a suave lentil soup. For dessert, Sami’s makes its own rice pudding and firnee, milk custard scented with cinnamon, rose water and cardamom.
Prices here are almost absurdly reasonable. All but one main dish is under $15.
I’ve never understood The Curse of 284 Glen Street. Yes, the building is set back from the road, but it’s clearly visible, with good signage and parking. And it is right next door to Razzano’s Italian market which, to my mind, is Glen Cove’s leading tourist attraction. Epiphany (2003 to 2011) was the last restaurant to succeed here. It was followed by the short-lived Tappo, then Chama Rodizio and then Greek Captain, a shaky proposition from the get-go that closed after barely six months. Vilai Divine Greek Cuisine closed in January, after less than a year and a half.
Sami’s has the added challenge of operating during a pandemic, but it has one notable advantage besides the good food and low prices: the food travels very well for takeout.
Sami’s Kabab House is at 284 Glen St., Glen Cove, 516-629-6100, samiskababhouse.com.