Sampler plate with chicken Casablanca, stuffed grape leaves and mafghusa. Photo by Todd Cooper.
For a third of a century, Ibrahim Hamide worked around the challenge of running his first restaurant, Casablanca, out of a small location at Fifth Street Public Market. “It proved to me that people really like [Lebanese] food and maybe even the way I presented it and prepared it, but the space was too small, so it didn’t offer me the full range of what I wanted to do, food-wise and service-wise,” he says.
Hamide decided to solve that problem by solving another: The business model for Café Zenon, an upscale restaurant he purchased in 2009, wasn’t working out in the changing economy, so he decided to close Zenon and move in. Thus Dalia on Broadway — named for his younger daughter, as Café Soriah was named for his oldest daughter — was born.
Like Casablanca, Dalia has Lebanese fare, but solving the spatial issues allowed Hamide to expand the old menu and left him with wiggle room for creativity, as well.
“The luxury! It’s like if a painter was painting from his or her desk and suddenly they get invited to a studio,” he says. “Just having the tools that you didn’t have before is amazing for cooking.”
Hamide says it’s hard to pick a standout item at Dalia because the food of the Fertile Crescent caters to a lot of different tastes, but the lamb and chicken shawarmas have already been selling well. “Shawarma is a traditional dish, and it’s a spice and a marinade that flavors lamb and chicken,” he says. “Of course the old standbys of hummus and baba ganoush and tabbouleh are pretty standard for Lebanese fare, and they’re really popular.”
Dalia is an ideal restaurant for mixed parties of vegetarians and meat enthusiasts, Hamide says, because everyone has enough to choose from. “It’s really heaven for a lot of vegetarians because there’s so much that’s vegetarian, but there are also strong features of lamb and chicken.”
Hamide says that Dalia’s interior doesn’t look like the old Zenon. A remodel divided the large dining area and added curtains, sound mufflers on the ceilings and some banquet seating. “The noise factor that was sometimes mentioned has been totally dealt with,” he says.
“The place looks inviting and clean and modern and welcoming and hospitable and all the stuff that I was hoping, while remodeling, that it would accomplish.”
Dalia on Broadway is open 11 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday at 898 Pearl St., daliaonbroadway.com