Grape leaves at Nora's Grocery

Stuffed Grape Leaves.jpg

Stuffed grape leaves at Nora's Grocery

By Jessica Pasko

Not long ago a friend told me the stuffed grape leaves at Nora's Grocery in Watervliet were the best they ever had. Now, I love grape leaves (or dolmades, as they're also known), so I knew I needed to give these a shot.

Last week I went out in search of Nora's Grocery to try them for myself.

Was it worth the trip?

Ummm -- yes.

The grape leaves (here they're called sarma) at Nora's are like no other stuffed grape leaves I've had. I'm used to smaller, pudgier rolls packed tightly with rice, herbs and lemon. But the ones at Nora's are longer, skinnier and well, more delicious. Chopped pine nuts are mixed in with the rice and spices, and there's some sort of thin tomato-based sauce in them too. And you can have them hot or cold. They come two dozen to a container for $9.99, and would definitely be a great thing to bring to a party.

The rest of the shop is great, too.

Nora's is an entire Middle Eastern grocery store tucked away in a small shopping plaza. The shop is redolent of cardamom and other spices, and it's packed with things like pomegranate molasses, turnip pickles and lentils.

Nora's also sells a wide array of homemade items to go, including shish kebabs, hummus, baba ghanouj, spinach hand pies and a delicious-looking layered dish called lehmejoun, or Armenian pizza. The owner, who's Armenian but moved here from Syria, told me he and his wife make all of it themselves. They also make homemade cheeses, breads and baklava, among other things.

Halvah in several varieties? Yes, please. Giant jars of Lebanese olives, rose water, pita bread and condiments like eggplant jam are just a few of things I had a hard time resisting. I've never seen so many varieties of halloumi and feta cheese in one case before. You can also get big containers of spices and spice blends like zatar here for a decent price. And the owners are incredibly nice to boot. Oh, and if you're in the market for, say, a hookah, Nora's got that too - and the flavored tobacco to go with it. They've also got a small selection of cookware.

If you need falafel and kibbeh for a large group,Nora's does some catering too.

But really, trust me on the grape leaves. I went back for them twice in one week.

Yes, they're that good.

Find It

Nora's Grocery--Hilltop Plaza
143 Troy-Schenectady Road
Watervliet, NY 12189

Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.


WHAT? how the? what the?
as a bona fide Armenian, I'm embarassed I never knew about this place.

And for what it's worth, my grandma always called these "sarma" so that's how I think of these.

Nora's is incredible! I used to moonlight as a paper-pusher at the hellish insurance agency next door, and the owner (Fred) was my only salvation. He was super-friendly and super-helpful, and the kibbeh is to die for. Great review, Jessica, and I second your thoughts on the grape leaves. My mouth waters just thinking about 'em.

"Not long ago a friend told me the stuffed grape leaves at Nora's Grocery in Watervliet..."

Don't let the Post Office dictate our municipal boundaries. That's NOT Watervliet.

Tasty indeed! Tangier than I expected them to be. More tomato-y/acidic. But good!

Actually the secret to the tangyness is apparently pomegranate concentrate and lemon juice. I went in today and Fred was incredibly sweet. I think he gave me one of everything in the store to try, most of it handmade by his wife apparently. He even sent me home with some extra food. It was all delicious. I told him I found him on AOA and he said he needed me to write it down because I wasn't the only one to say that and he needed see it. So if you're reading this, Thanks Fred! I didn't have much room left for dinner but it was worth it!

OOOOhhh my God you guys are so right. I tryed the stuff grape leaf it was out of this world. I also asked for the Kufte it was awsome too. I placed my order for the Christmas party that I will have He told me it will be ready for me to just pick it up and serve it. My kids tryed the string cheese and told me they want it @ there lunch box. The trip was worth it and I definitly will be there everyweek for fresh wheat pita bread. Great Job Nora's grocery keep up the good work. You will see me again....

I met Fred on Friday and told him how I read about this gem of a place online, but couldn't remember where. What a nice man, kept giving me samples of different foods to try. I bought the 24 grape leaves for $9.99, and some kefte's...but I'm going back for other goodies too. I can't believe how close this place is, and have no clue as to why I haven't gone there sooner.

oops...I said a dozen grape was two the ones I tasted...quite a good deal.

I have no idea how Jessica stumbled upon this place, but after I visited there yesterday all I can say is thank you thank you! What a find, and nice addition to the multitude of ethnic grocery stores popping up in the Capital region.

Yes, the grape leaves are great, but you also must try the FRESH hummus and baba ganouj--Fred makes it fresh while you wait or you can order in advance. Also fresh tabbouleh--all are very delicious, and I have eaten a lot of middle eastern food! He has all kinds of frozen homemade rolls, spinach and cheese pies (called choureks and boureks--they are not phyllo like Greek spanakopita and tiropita, but a more bread-like crust)--all very good. This is authentic, homemade food and very tasty. Lots of specialty products too that you can't find elsewhere, unless you travel to Astoria.

Hi all! I've known about Nora's for over three years now and we always go there for stuffed grape leaves (The cold ones are called Yelanchi btw,--they usually do not have meat in them--the ones you eat hot and that contain meat are sadmas)...I am 3/4 Armenian, 2nd generation born in the US...:) just saying, I know alot about the food:). Anyway, thanks for posting this. I never knew the man's name! He always is so nice to us and always remembers us!:) Now I can call him by name when I go see him tonight. I figured I would go pick up some food for tonight since it is Armenian Christmas! (Oh, I hope they are open!). Great article and it's about time more people knew about his little store. I haven't been able to find another one like it around this area. There are many in the MA area in Watertown (near my grandmother's old house) but nothing comes close around here except Nora's!:)

I LOVE this place. Everything is tasty and they make some items fresh and to order. I have stopped in early in the afternoon and had hummus and tabouli ready for me shortly after noon. The gentleman there is super friendly and always offers a little treat of something that tastes delicious and makes me want to buy it!! A must visit.

I discovered this place last year from a co-worker. We are both of armenian descent and grew up with all this food. The kibbeh (footballs) are awesome with the seasoned lamb and pine nuts. We had some last-minute guests the other night, pulled these out of the freezer and whipped up a batch of tahini sauce. yum yum. Fred is a cutie, If you engage him he will feed you until you are full! Basbussa kit (simple semolina dessert) also a find- directions on box are a riot....

WOW!!! Two dozen dolmades for $9.99? You typically pay somewhere form $5-6 for an order (of 4-5) in a restaurant..I'm heading up there today to check it out! Thanks for the tip!h

This is truly a gem. I'm second generation Egyptian and this place feels like home away from home. The food is delicious. The owner will be glad to show you everything and let you taste the food if you don't know what it is. The grape leaves, the spinach pies, the sweet bread rolls and the falafel were amazing! They make fresh toubeleh every Fri and Sat and fresh bread every Thur. And the best part is...the prices are totally reasonable! I'll definitely be going back for more. Thanks AOA!

Was searching for something else and happened to stumble across this older article. I love stuffed grape leaves so of course after reading this review of Nora's I immediately had a craving for some! I drove to Nora's grocery yesterday and purchased the stuffed grapes leaves and some baklava. Both are amazing and the best I've eaten.

I'v been searching for some good middle eastern grocery and stumbled across AOA and Nora's , Small place but packed with good food.
The stuffed grape leaves are superb , and I love the lehmejoun, you also must try the FRESH hummus and baba ganouj! A great Discovery that I look forward to returning to again and again !

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