My favorite restaurant in Bucharest is Torna Fratre. The address is Strada Tunari 34, Sector 2.
Food. The first criterion in judging a restaurant is, of course, the food. I have eaten here many times. I can say that whenever I’ve been here and whatever dish I’ve ordered, it’s always been fresh, well prepared, and delicious. The kitchen is absolutely consistent, thus making it easy to return time and again.
Torna Fratre specializes in traditional Romanian dishes, with recipes that come from all regions of Romania and around its borders. It is, furthermore, a cherhana, which means that it specializes in fish. The menu is a treat to read.
To whet your appetite: under Gustări ‘Starters’ you can order, among other things, the Ardealan dish Taci și-nghite, which is baked mamaliga with cheese, butter, sour cream and egg; the Aromanian dish Pitligeani tsărgăstit, which is fried eggplant with tomatoes and garlic; and the Basarabian dish Chiroști cu mânătărci, which is dumplings with wild mushrooms.
To give you a geographic idea of where these dishes come from:
Aromanians live in the southern Balkans; Ardeal = Transylvania; Basarabia is in the northeast, next to Ukraine
One of my favorites is păstrăv la gratar ‘grilled trout’ with grilled vegetables (or French fries, if the whim comes over me). But, really, you can’t go wrong with any of the fish.
I usually order icre de ştuică ‘sturgeon roe’ as an appetizer and split it with whomever I’m with. The other day I (thought I) had a big appetite, so after the icre and before the fish, I also had a ciorbă de crap ‘carp sour soup’. Romanians take their ciorba seriously. The one I had was super fresh and tasty.
(My eyes were bigger than my stomach. I took a lot of my main course home in a box, and it made a very satisfying breakfast the next day.)
Setting. The physical restaurant itself is a lovely Romanian-style house.
It has one smaller interior room with two sections:
It also has a larger room off the back, which can be used for events.
The garden in front is off a busy street but still has a sense of seclusion. So the garden’s the place to be on a beautiful summer evening.
Note: the two empty tables both have a wooden box that holds the name of the reservation
Thursday through Saturday evenings, there is live music – traditional Romanian, of course.
Lăutari – ‘fiddlers’, that is ‘traditional musicians’
Atmosphere. The owners, Daniela and Aurel Pascu, created this traditional Romanian restaurant, and they get the credit for the welcoming atmosphere. Daniela has an outgoing, fun loving personality, and it comes through in their establishment.
Daniela and Aurel with me in the middle
Price. For excellent food, consistently prepared, the prices at Torna Fratre are completely reasonable. I’ve had meals at other restaurants that were good but much more expensive. I’ve had meals at other restaurants that weren’t as good and even they were more expensive. At Torne Fratre you find value.
Linguistic notes. i) The name of the restaurant comes from the phrase torna, torna fratre means something like “Go back, go back, brother!” in the first preserved form of very old Romanian, dating perhaps to the sixth century. There are different historical explanations, all revolving around a military incident. It might have been as innocent as a solider not noticing a bag he was responsible for had dropped and another solider pointing it out to him, exhorting him to go back for it. In any case, the name of the restaurant goes back to the roots of the language, just as the menu goes back to the roots of Romanian cuisine.
ii) It will kill me not to mention that cherhana ‘fish restaurant’ is a word borrowed from Turkish. I have a mild (okay, rather large) obsession with Turkish words borrowed into Romanian. See:
By contrast, a zahana specializes in meat dishes. I should mention that Torna Fratre does serve meat, also traditionally prepared.
Because I’m not the only one with this restaurant on my fave list, you’ll want to call ahead for reservations. The numbers are: 0784.111.890 and 021.210.35.57.
Here’s a link to the website:
See also: All My Romania Blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen