The food truck serves hearty, classic cuisine at bargain prices.
In the gravel parking lot of tiny Romashka Euro Deli on the Northwest Side, a bright red food truck called Red Square Grill serves as a welcome beacon signaling a rarity in Columbus—comforting and inexpensive Uzbekistan-Russian street fare.
From Thursday to Sunday for the last five months, owner Radion “Ray” Muratov has served the dishes of his native cuisine, making doughs, noodles and slow-simmered meat dishes from scratch. The tight menu, typically three to five offerings, changes daily (check the food truck’s Facebook page for updates), but don’t let that deter you. Everything Muratov and his team cook is wonderfully homey, thoughtfully prepared and perfectly seasoned.
The good news is plov ($10) will almost always be there. A pilaf-style dish often referred to as the national dish of Uzbekistan, Muratov’s plov is simple, but hearty with a near 1-1 ratio of a pot-roast style beef, rice and tender carrots. The deliciousness is in the details here, with long-stewed gem-like peppercorns coaxed into softness.Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
High-tail it over if lagman ($10) is on the menu. Tender beef and house-made noodles star in a rich broth made colorful with chopped veggies. This Central Asian specialty will warm you from the inside out.
Savory pastries are perfect as appetizers or sides. Flaky and golden-crusted hand pies called samsa ($4) are stuffed with a choice of heady beef or chicken, both heavy on onion and aromatic with cumin seed. They’re satisfying solo but thrown into a new dimension when doused with the accompanying fresh tomato-onion salsa, like dunking a crispy french fry into ketchup.
Pirozhki ($3), or Russian pierogi as they’re sometimes listed on the menu, are also hand-sized, stuffed pastries but with a different character. The dough is soft and pliable, like a yeast doughnut, and filled with fragrant mashed potatoes speckled with black pepper.
Red Square Grill’s setup is as endearing as its food: a fire-engine-hued truck with a red-striped awning. The day’s offerings are scribbled on a dry erase board, and dish photos, taped to the side of the truck, curl in on themselves after five months in the sun.
And, if you’re lucky enough to be here on a day when Muratov is manning his tiny wood-fired grill to char smoky shashlik ($5), aka chicken, lamb and beef kebabs, the mouthwatering aroma of grilled meat engulfs the air around the truck like a fog.
To say Red Square Grill’s food is a steal is an understatement. On one visit, my dining companion and I ran the menu for less than $30, loading our arms with every entrée and savory pastry available—and still had leftovers for lunch the next day.
My advice: Come hungry and bring a friend.