Mediterranean restaurant Sami & Susu (279 Grand St.) celebrates it’s grand opening in Williamsburg on Tuesday as a pop-up inside of Maracuja Bar, which closed during the pandemic.
Founded by owner Amir Nathan, whose local restaurant credits include Via Carota and Maison Premiere, and executive chef Jordan Anderson, who has cooked at Olmsted and Maison Premiere, Sami & Susu’s name comes from the first Arab-Israeli children’s television show, which broadcast in Arabic and Hebrew in the 60s and 70s and served as a symbol of unity and peace in the Middle East.
“For months, I had been working on a plan to open a Mediterranean natural wine bar and general store, but when Covid-19 hit I knew I had to rethink my plans,” says Nathan. “It felt silly to wait around and see when things improved, when I could just rethink the business model to begin with.”
The menu is based on regional cooking from throughout the Mediterranean, which melds Nathan’s Sephardic family’s recipes with Anderson’s American-Jewish family recipes. For now, only takeout and delivery are available, and the menu has created mix-and-match picnic sets to accommodate current clientele.
The menu includes shareable mezze in small and large options. Spreads like Baba Ghanoush made with charred eggplant and tahini and Matbucha with red pepper and tomato confit compliment several salads like a tabbouleh made with summer corn, bulgar, crushed almonds and fresh mint and parsley.
Small, cooked dishes include spicy carrots with harissa, labneh, pistachios and cilantro; Burrata with grilled stone fruit, hot honey and candied walnuts; and ratatouille with Japanese eggplant steak, gold bar zucchini, tomato salsa and saffron aioli.
Larger dishes include both vegetarian and meat-forward options, like a roasted cauliflower with pastrami rub and nectarine mustard; ‘Mom’s chicken soup,’ inspired by chef Jordan’s mother’s recipe with pulled chicken thighs, matzoh ball, egg noodles and honey carrots; Moussaka with lamb neck ragu, eggplant, potato and bechamel; stuffed peppers with Berkshire pork shoulder, bulgur and tomato salsa (vegan option available); and bouillabaisse with poached tilefish, shrimp, clams and Fresno chili.
A bread-focused menu section also offers hearty meal options, like a Tunisian sandwich with harissa tuna salad, a soft boiled egg and preserved lemon; and a rolled bureka, inspired by Amir’s Turkish grandmother’s recipe, with Swiss chard, pecorino and ricotta.
The seasonal menu focuses on sourcing local ingredients, like turnips from Lancaster Farm Fresh and squash from Jersey Fresh.
Also served to go are OddFellows ice cream pints in peanut butter, s’mores and matcha black sesame flavors for dessert. The drink menu include natural wines from small producers, beers and classic cocktails, like Negronis and margaritas.
Park-friendly, customizable picnic sets start at $48 and include a mix-and-match selection of spreads, salads, dishes and bottles of wine, fresh pitas and silverware. “Just because you can’t sit in a restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t have a quality meal outdoors or in your own home,” Nathan says. “Williamsburg and Greenpoint have great parks that are perfect to picnic in, and I know people are craving healthy and beautiful summer-friendly food. When the temperature gets colder we’ll modify the menu to provide some winter-friendly options.”
Sami & Susu is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Delivery and takeaway are available directly through Sami & Susu’s website or via third-party apps Caviar and Seamless. For menu and service updates, follow Sami & Susu on Instagram @samiandsusunyc.