Right after a globetrotting foodstuff career burning shiny together with star chefs Bobby Flay and Thomas Keller, restaurant owner Nicolas Kurban necessary to return residence once again.
The Lebanon-born businessman, following 25 yrs of handling food and beverage applications at lodge-casinos from the Borgata in Jersey Town to Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, craved the basic pleasures of his parents’ residence cooking in Beirut. In late January Kurban strategies to open up his newest restaurant, Amar Mediterranean Bistro, on Delray Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, with present day Lebanese dishes crafted from outdated loved ones recipes.
“In the finish, the pandemic made this take place,” says Kurban, who life in Boca Raton with his spouse and daughters. “I would be lying if I did not skip my other dream positions, and it was entertaining opening eating places in Shanghai and Tokyo and Barcelona, but having your individual detail is exciting.”
The 60-seat Amar Mediterranean Bistro at 522 E. Atlantic Ave. replaces the former Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino pizzeria, and sits 1 block east of the Delray iPic theater. The industrial-chic bistro seats 48 within and 12 far more on its sidewalk patio, and is adorned in brick walls, marble tables and leather banquettes, rustic wooden shelving and brass lighting.
At least 60 visitors very last week by itself have knocked on the front door to inquire about Amar, which convinces Kurban that Lebanese food items fills a vital void in Atlantic Avenue cuisine.
“When I notify them it is Lebanese, they say to me, ‘Thank God, it’s about time,’ ” he states. “How a lot of additional Italian dining places are you likely to have on Atlantic Avenue? This area desires variety.”
Not that Atlantic Avenue is devoid of Mediterranean fare Amar shares the eating drag with mini Greek chain Taverna Opa to the west and other tasteful eateries (La Cigale, Joseph Wine Bar) to the south and north. Inside of the 1,200-sq.-foot bistro, roughly 50 percent the menu will be devoted to warm and cold mezze, or shareable plates, and entrées get started with toasted pita from Amar’s wood-burning oven.
Fifty percent of the menu, nevertheless currently being finalized, will consist of entrees and desserts that spotlight Kurban’s parents’ recipes. One of his mother’s household-cooked dishes is sheikh el mehchi, or eggplant stuffed with ground beef, pine nuts, tomato sauce and onions. (Sheikha el mehchi, its vegan equal, substitutes chickpeas for beef.)
Kurban credits his father, Elie, for Amar’s hummus and marinated kebab dishes this kind of as hen shish taouk, showcasing skewered charbroiled chicken breast, charred onions, tomatoes and a Lebanese garlic sauce known as toum. Desserts, produced by Kurban’s wife, Susanna, incorporate tahini chocolate cake and labneh panna cotta.
Kurban gained his earliest publicity to Lebanese cuisine as a teenager doing work at his father’s restaurant in Beirut, which supplied common dishes “but was like a Cheesecake Manufacturing unit with pizza, steak and other worldwide things,” he states. He moved to the United States to make his bachelor’s diploma in lodge management from The Ohio Point out University but returned to Lebanon to open La Olivier, a compact-plates cafe.
Following returning to the States in 1999, Kurban expended the next 20 years in the company food stuff and beverage entire world. He opened dining establishments in Las Vegas for Wolfgang Puck and Borgata inns in New Jersey. He opened outposts of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bakeries in California and New York, then remaining to open up Four Seasons and Kimpton Accommodations throughout the globe.
“I was getting homesick,” suggests Kurban, who give up his extravagant way of living in 2019 to target on opening Amar.
“I just knew there was a demand for Mediterranean food stuff in this article,” he says. “With the pandemic not heading absent, this is a little something I needed to do a little something for myself.”
Amar Mediterranean Bistro, at 522 E. Atlantic Ave., will open to the public on Thursday, Jan. 28. Go to AmarDelray.com.