Editor’s note: Sadly, since first reviewing and recommending this place, things have gone terribly downhill and we can no longer vouch for its quality. The good news is that the restaurant’s former manager – the person responsible for making so good in the first place – has his own spot now and it’s highly recommended. Review here .
At first glance, with its steam table covered with pots of ready-made grub, Pera Sisore may look like any one of those quickie lunch spots found throughout Turkey. But there’s a difference: someone here is cooking up some serious Black Sea magic in the kitchen.
The Black Sea area is Turkey’s culinary misfit – it’s not really about kebabs or meze. If anything, the food there seems to have been mysteriously transplanted from the American Deep South. We’re talking corn bread, collard greens and smoky bean stews. It’s simple, filling, down-home food and Sisore is a great – and affordable – spot to get acquainted with it. Actually, it serves some of the best Black Sea food that we have had in Istanbul.
A recent visit to the restaurant – found on a side street in the fun Asmalımescit neighborhood – started off with a very tasty plate of hamsi (fresh anchovy) pilaf, the holy grail of Black Sea cooking. A kind of savory fish cake, the pilaf has small hamsi filets wrapped around a thick bed of rice infused with herbs, currants and pine nuts.
Everything else we’ve tried at Sisore has been a winner. A rib-sticking stew made with kale, beans and hominy was earthy and smoky. If this weren’t Muslim Turkey, we’d swear someone had slipped a ham hock into the pot. Sisore also serves up a fine version of another Black Sea staple: creamy white beans (kuru fasulye) cooked up in a rich, buttery red sauce.
The restaurant also has a wood-burning oven in the back, where a mustachioed usta (“master” in Turkish) whips up excellent pide, aka Turkish pizza. A personal favorite is one with kavurma, fried beef preserved in its own fat, somewhat similar to Mexican carnitas.
On any given day, Sisore will have more than a dozen items bubbling away on the steam table, some typical Black Sea dishes, some not. It’s worth trying a few – it’s the easiest way to visit the Black Sea without leaving Istanbul.
Address: Oteller Sokak 6, Beyoğlu