We were intrigued from the moment we saw Euro's bizarre takeout menu. Italian, Middle Eastern and sushi? How can a restaurant with such a concept expect to survive?
We chose a Saturday evening to review the place, but it was locked down. Evidently, our doubts about its viability had been well founded. When we returned on a weeknight with friends, the restaurant was open. "What's with your weird schedule?" we asked the greeter.
"What night did you come?" he asked.
"We don't open until 9 p.m. on Saturday."
"What kind of restaurant doesn't open until 9 p.m. on a Saturday?"
"A kosher one."
Suddenly, it made sense.
We entered to face a panoply of colorful, shiny surfaces, a lovely picture-window view of a lake, and a roomful of bobbing yarmulkes.
Euro's menu is meatless. Dietary laws deem it so, for while a kosher kitchen can technically handle meat and dairy simultaneously, there's always a risk the two might be combined. Yet for Euro, this is not a limitation, but more like a challenge to be met, surmounted and — with the application of a little imagination — converted into an asset.
Starters: There's a selection of seven salads, from which we ordered the Euro Classic ($10). It's an appetizing mound of very fresh greens, red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and feta cheese topped with large strips of grilled portobello mushroom, accompanied by a sweet vinaigrette. It was large enough to divide among a party of five. Another appetizer, the eggplant stack ($10), featured thick, crispy eggplant slices alternating with mozzarella and ricotta cheese, again topped with grilled portobello mushrooms and marinara sauce. It rivaled the best on offer at any Italian restaurant, and moreover, was not at all greasy.
We all agreed that the standout dish of the evening was the Mediterranean platter (a bargain at $10), consisting of four individual mounds: baba ghanoush, an eggplant dip that was a little too sweet; hummus; and the two starring concoctions, a vinegary eggplant/sweet pepper salad and a mild curry Moroccan tomato salad that rapidly disappeared.
Entree excellence: Of course, we had to try the sushi. We ordered a crouching tiger roll ($15) that contained tuna, salmon, hamachi, asparagus, scallions and was topped with "faux shrimp" (shellfish is forbidden) that was also pretty faux on taste, and a yellowtail jalapeno roll (very reasonable at $8). Both were somewhat bland, and presented in a dull arrangement with little attention to visual appeal. We agreed that for sushi, many Japanese restaurants in the area serve more-inspired offerings. But if keeping kosher is a requirement, then Euro's is serviceable.
Pan-seared ahi tuna ($27) would have been an excellent dish, as the fish was perfectly cooked on the outside, leaving the inside pink and succulent, but it was drowned in a very sweet eel sauce that would have been better just drizzled on the side. It's a minor error, and easily corrected. Tomato-basil stromboli ($11) wrapped a thick, rich, chewy pizza crust around a generous amount of mozzarella and the other fillings. It was superlative in both taste and texture.
Sweet! Desserts, which include chocolate and raspberry mousses ($8), among other dishes, are neither made on the premises nor memorable.
Satisfied with our meal, we cast our eye upon the bustling dining area, and we beheld the groups of senior citizens enjoying an evening with friends and loved ones as they dived into their food with evident gusto. We spied a teenage couple on a date — he, resplendent in his embroidered kippah; she, modest in her floor-length skirt — blushing nervously as they shared a stromboli. And we saw that it was good. And we said to ourselves, "Surely, for what Euro delivers in quality to a specialized and demanding clientele, and at such a reasonable price, the restaurant should be given a solid three stars."
And so it was written.
Euro Fusion Restaurant and Bar
6877 SW 18th St., Boca Raton
Cuisine: Kosher Italian, Middle Eastern and Japanese
Hours: Open for breakfast and lunch every day but Saturday. Closes Fridays at 4 p.m. in summer, 2 p.m. in winter. Opens 9 p.m. Saturday for dinner only.
Reservations: Encouraged for large parties in summer, all patrons during the season
Credit cards: All accepted
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Kids' menu, booster seats and highchairs
Deals: Two-for-one drinks 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays