If you’re in Brighton Beach and are able to consume gluten without causing your intestines to unionize, we simply see no reason to avoid Toné Café—a calm Georgian spot on Neptune Avenue named for the big circular clay oven that bakes the restaurant’s puri.
Every meal at Toné Café should involve something baked in said clay oven, which functions in the same way as a tandoor does. If you need to narrow down the list to one choice, make it the adjaruli khachapuri. This boat-shaped flatbread has a center overflowing with molten farmer’s cheese, a sunny yolk, and a thick sliver of butter that melts so fast it looks like it’s running away.
In addition to their small dining room, Toné Café also sells cakes and pastries in their bakery next door. Unless you’re short on time, we’d suggest having a sit-down meal in the restaurant over the quicker grab-and-go approach. That way you can try all of the menu’s highlights–including thick-skinned khinkali, Georgian orange wine, and fizzy tarragon soda that tastes like a piece of licorice after a spa day.
Toné Café’s nap-inducing Georgian dishes are much better suited for a post-beach meal rather than a pre-beach excursion. (The restaurant is about a 20-minute walk from the boardwalk, FYI.) If you fall asleep on the shore and unfamiliar 8-year-olds cover you in sand, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Allegedly, Georgian people have eaten this beef-based garlic soup to cure hangovers. If you think the broth tastes too light, you can always pour in some milk to make it heftier.
These squeaky broth-filled dumplings have thick wrappers, but the doughiness doesn’t outshine the herbaceous beefy center whatsoever. Each one also has enough black pepper to remind you that black pepper can in fact pack a punch. We like to pick up these babies with our hands and bite towards the top of the nub.
Toné Café makes about a half-dozen varieties of khachapuri, but this is the model we think you should try first. The combination of oozing farmer’s cheese and egg yolk gives it seemingly-unnecessary-but-totally-necessary richness. In a word, this is a dairyscape.