The smaller backstreets of the “Big Island” are a treasure trove of wonder and delight. You’ll find a welder who rents out his space to artists, while the shop next door is busy selling furniture and discounted cat food. But even with these wonders abundant, there are still times when it leaves you wanting. And when it comes to food, more often than not, the island seems to be more concerned about repeating what their neighbour is doing, rather than doing their own thing. There are, of course, the exceptions, one of which is Atılgan Butik Şarkürteri, a small, delightful deli.
You’ll find Atılgan at the tail end of the island’s fayton (horse carriage) stand. It may be stinky, but the smell is worth it. The shop is easily recognizable by the hanging pastirma just outside.
Orhan Bey is usually the man you’ll meet behind the counter and usually wearing a smile. While he was not born and raised on the island, both he and his brother started have been commuting to the island long enough to make them locals. The two brothers used to work a cheese stand at the islands’ weekly market, but in 2004 Orhan Bey set up a more permanent shop on the island.
They first opened their shop as an extension of their market stand; naturally their focus was on traditional Turkish cheese and olives. So today, some twelve years later, the main focus of their shop is still cheese, with some wonderful additions. The team can set you up with imported staples like Ementals, Goudas, and blue cheeses. However, if you are new to Turkish cheeses we suggest sticking to the regional stuff – some of which they make and of which they take great pride. Our personal favourite is their Cevizli Tulumu (traditional goat’s milk cheese with walnuts), with their Kars Gravyer (a smoother gruyère type cheese) as a very close second.
As with any proper deli shop they have an array of prepared meats from smoked turkey to spiced roast beef as well as traditional Turkish dried meats and sausages like pastırma (pressed, cured beef covered with a traditional paste) and sucuk (spiced sausage). The shop is also stocked with prepared fish specialties like sardines and dried horse mackerel served with olive oil. Admittedly, the fishy goods are not as appetizing as the rest. If you are sorely craving sardines, then knock your socks off. Otherwise, I would pass.
As of a couple of months ago, the Orhan Bey added his wife’s meze to his shop. They are simple, classic, and delicious. Several people in line were after the last patlıcan salatası (roasted eggplant salad). They run out fast, though. So, best get there early or call in advance to set some aside.
As the largest of the Prince’s Islands, Büyükada naturally hosts other delis, but none so charming (and helpful). There are grocery stores like Carrefoure and Namlı who have a counter, but without the variety or the imports. And, while there is a more central deli (Yalovalı Kardeşler) with as many imported cheeses and meats, the prices are much higher than Atılgan.
The next time you find yourself on the island – perhaps picnicking – pick up some great cheeses at Atılgan Şarkürteri. But if you are too hungry to wait for that picnic, you can always ask Orhan Bey to make you a great and very fresh sandwich.
Atılgan Butik Şarkürteri
(0542) 382 82 12
Maden Mahallesi, Zağnospaşa Caddesi No. 16