The awning of this compact Montenegrin restaurant proclaims it a cevabdzinica and buregdzinica, a shop that prepares the skinless sausages called cevapi and the savory pies called bureks.
In Montenegro and other countries that once were part of the former Yugoslavia, a variety of items that often are conflated as "bureks" have distinctive local names. Sometimes the name derives from the shape. At Garfield, New Jersey's Shop Express, the Macedonian "banicka" is given to a style that, previously, I knew only as a spiral burek. Sometimes the name derives from the filling. "Zeljanica" denotes spinach with a little cheese; it's understood that these ingredients will be incorporated in a pastry. At the Serbian restaurant Kafana, they are served in a pita, or pie, rather than in a burek, but the concept holds.
At Ukus, too, one can simply order a zeljanica (zel-Jahn-nit-sah, $5) and be rewarded with a slice of spinach burek encased in rich phyllo. What the menu calls a potato roll ($3) — surely there's a Montenegrin name, but I didn't trouble to ask — is the choice when you want to eat mashed potato with your fingers.
Also shown: tarator ($5.50), a yogurt and cucumber salad; pasul ($12), bean stew with smoked beef; gulas (that is, beef goulash, $13), which almost entirely concealed a berg of mashed potato. Previously, and not shown: begova corba, or Bosnian soup ($5.50 at the time), whose glistening surface posed a photographic challenge even when not reflecting a televised soccer match. Beneath the surface I found dark-meat chicken, firm chunks of okra, bits of carrot and celery, and submerged dollops of sour cream that slowly emulsified in the broth. The sour cream, too, was less easily captured in pictures than in words, or with a spoon.
42-08 30th Ave. (42nd-43rd Sts.), Astoria, Queens