Look no further than Te Muja, an unassuming yet must-try restaurant in Prishtina’s center, for a mouth watering home-cooked dining experience.
Serving simple fare of fantastic quality, small family-run restaurant Te Muja is the perfect place to share a meal worth remembering, but you might walk past it every day and not even notice.
Surrounded by the high-rise flats that dominate Prishtina’s city center, Te Muja is a stone’s throw away from the well-known after hours dancing spot Zanzi Jazz Bar. A small wooden bungalow with modest decor, its simple interior mirrors the no-frills approach embraced by the restaurant’s owner, Muja.
The checked tablecloths, wooden paneling and assorted portraits of old Albanian men and women adorning the walls made us feel instantly at home, helped along by the haze that accompanies an indoor smoking policy.
But beware the maitre d’: Muja takes his no-nonsense mantra seriously. Running the entire restaurant by himself (“you can’t trust youngsters these days to do anything”), he wears a badge of arrogance with pride and small talk is not on the menu. Our advice would be to tell him what you want, and keep it simple: meat or no meat.
“My clients don’t come here because I’m handsome, they come for the food,” said Muja, after we warmed him up with compliments on the food. “If it was for my looks, people would run in the opposite direction.”
He’s right: the food is simple but very well-cooked, and while Muja’s table manner borders on rudeness, his service is impeccable. Eventually, we prise the story behind the restaurant out of him.
Te Muja was named Montenegro House for most of its lifetime, but was rechristened around six years ago. Belgrade-born but raised in Bujanovc, Te Muja’s owner arrived in Prishtina just one month before the war began, in 1998. A student previously at the University of Prishtina’s Faculty of History, Muja already had a connection with the city and decided to make it his home for the rest of his life.
In the decades that the restaurant has stood, Te Muja has never had a menu, and this is necessary to its functioning. What you get on your plate is what Muja found at the market that morning.
For us, that began with roasted spicy and sweet peppers cooked in oil, garlic and parsley, fresh cucumber and huge tomatoes, spring onions and white cheese with dill served with bread, alongside prosciutto and thick-cut slices of fried bacon.
All of these came on separate ceramic dishes spread across the entire table, giving us the warm Sunday-family-meal feeling as four of us reached over each other to grab a little of this dish, a little of that.
According to Muja, meat is his passion and is always the centerpiece of the meal, and he goes to great lengths to bring the best quality meat possible to his customers, often crossing to Macedonia to secure his produce.
The meat eaters at our table were given the choice of beef, chicken or pork, which was served with a mix of roast potatoes, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant. The meat was slow cooked and tender, falling off the fork and incredibly fulfilling.
Te Muja is a haven for vegetarians, if only because the one vegetarian option was a little out of the ordinary: a plate full of perfectly cooked, salty mushrooms along with freshly baked potato and onion croquettes with green pesto oozing from their center were coupled perfectly with salad and spicy peppers. Before we could even ask, Muja brought extra peppers and salad as we devoured them alongside our meal.
The vegetarian option also depends on what Muja and the chef, his wife, have at their hands on the day: on a previous trip to the restaurant, the vegetarian dish was a selection of Albanian cheeses served with a side of garlic potatoes and assorted roast spicy peppers.
Te Muja’s beer selection alone is enough to draw in a crowd: while mostly pilsners are on offer, Muja stocks beer from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, a range that you wouldn’t see in other bars in Prishtina.
Expect to pay around eight euros per head, maybe a little extra if there is good wine on the table: Muja has bottles from every country in the Balkans, ranging from 10 to 100 euros per bottle. If you are lucky, he might throw in some raki after your meal as well, but only, it seems, if you can make him crack a smile.
22 May 2019 - 13:30
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