Global Eats at Sofra Family Bistro

This Middleton eatery serves Mediterranean and eastern European dishes

The local diner has long been a gathering place for breakfasts with friends, lunches with coworkers and quick dinners with family. And Sofra Family Bistro is like a diner, only better: no lunch-counter barstools, frenetic pace or waitresses named “Flo” work here—only a warm, comfortable ambience and good food are available.

Formerly the Bavaria Family Restaurant, owners and brothers Faton and Gjyner Lumani renamed their eatery three years ago and revamped the menu.

“We [originally] named it Bavaria because of the German demographic of Middleton back then,” explains Fatone of the restaurant’s opening in 1991. “We decided to change it to Sofra, which means ‘dining table’ in Albanian.”

Nods to the brothers’ Albanian heritage abound in the menu with Mediterranean and eastern European touches. The lunch menu has few ethnic dishes—two include the schnitz wich (pork schnitzel served on ciabatta bread with creamy pepper horseradish, fried onions and lettuce) and the gyro—but dinner is where the brothers showcase their Balkan-influenced favorites, like the Albanian shepherd salad, feta salad, vegetable stew and lamb shanks.

Even if their menu is global, ingredients are local, like Black Earth meats, Willy Street Co-op veggies and farmers’ market produce in the summer. The brothers appear to be masters of reinvention as they also opened Villa Dolce down the street five years ago and are happy to share their little piece of the world with Madison: “It worked, and we’re very happy.”

Sofra Family Bistro, 7457 Elmwood Ave., Middleton. 836-6614. sofrabistro.com

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