Stuff’d Dumpling is just two months old, but already this bright and airy Melrose eatery is getting patrons delightfully stuffed themselves.
The chef-made dumplings are gluten-free, made with organic and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, and embody the very essence of comfort food.
Founding partner Liza Tevelev says her love of dumplings started when she was a child. “I grew up eating and making these dumplings my whole life. I was born in Russia, and when I moved to L.A. I would make and eat them with my friends, and people really seemed to enjoy them.”
Tevelev and her business partner Matt Cooper decided to leave the world of finance and create their own take on delicious dumplings. “I had a food blog and worked in a food start-up at one point, so this was kind of a natural progression,” she notes.
This is Tevelev’s first restaurant, although her executive chef Missy Kim previously served the same role at Café Stella, worked as private chef for LCD Sound System, and as talent agent Ari Emanuel’s private chef.
“Matt and Missy added their own take on dumplings, and the concept developed from there. From my idea, they brought in flavors that were comfort food for them and together we created a unique menu,” added Tevelev.
In fact, the variety of menu choices Stuff’d Dumpling dishes up have a wide range of cultural influences.“I think Missy’s creation, Notorious P.I.G., is possibly the most unique. She’s from Hawaii and it’s really her homage to the state,” Tevelev remarks. The dish features Kalua pig, cabbage, purple potato puree, and a spicy soy vinaigrette. “She makes the pork marinated in the traditional Hawaiian way and roasts it for hours wrapped in a banana leaf. It makes a really interesting dumpling.”
Tevelev says probably the most popular dumplings on the menu are the Siberian Classic and the Hot Chick, a Thai coconut creation.
“The Siberian Classic is the most traditional Eastern European dumpling we have on the menu, made with beef and pork and sour cream sauce,” Tevelev relates. “There’s been a lot of fanfare around the Hot Chick, which is made with chicken and veggies in a Thai coconut curry sauce.”
Stuff’d Dumpling also includes several vegetarian options on the menu: Corny for You is created with cream of corn, ricotta cheese and spinach in a truffle vinaigrette; The Spicy Potato features sweet potato, carrot, spicy sage, and garlic oil. “And we also have a rotating seasonal desert dumpling that’s vegetarian. Currently it’s strawberry rhubarb,” Tevelev says. It includes vanilla ice cream.
Also on the menu are roasted cauliflower, several salads, and pickled vegetables, as well as a seasonal soup. Beverages include Kompot, which for the uninitiated is a sweet, non-alcoholic fruit beverage, a familiar drink in many Slavic households.
“The biggest take-away from the restaurant is that it is all gluten free, something we really pride ourselves on,” Tevelev notes. “It took our chef over a year to develop a gluten-free dough elastic enough to hold filling and be a dumpling.” Overall, the restaurant is very conscious of the ingredients they use. “All of our proteins have no added hormones or antibiotics. We use Petaluma Farms chicken and wild-caught cod for our cod dumplings. Even our cream of corn contains organic corn,” she attests. “People are always shocked by that because it’s hard to find organic corn.”
According to Tevelev “We go out of our way to make everything the way we want to eat it at home. Dumplings have the connotation that you don’t really know what’s in it, and we want our customers to be comfortable knowing what’s inside our dumplings is very high quality.”
With a casual and sunny atmosphere, Melrose Ave. diners can enjoy relaxing at Stuff’d Dumpling, or stop in for a grab and go.
“It’s really exciting. This is something we’ve always wanted to do,” Tevelev enthuses, and Melrose Ave. residents, shoppers, and visitors seem to agree, already enjoying her delicious dumpling tastes.