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The SCENE Magazine

Mediterraneo Market & Café is the Melting Pot of Cultures and International Cuisine

Sep 01, 2013 12:01AM ● By SCENE MAGAZINE STAFF
Mediterraneo Market & Café, at 18033 Upper Bay Rd. in Nassau Bay, has served the best dishes from more than 20 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. For the past 14 years, Mediterraneo has served traditional Mediterranean food, with a bit of American fare, from the heart to the table.

“Mediterraneo serves authentic food based on the traditions and cultures of the Mediterranean countries," said Magdy Kotb, owner of Mediterraneo. “The secret to serving quality food is that it tastes good from within. All fresh meat, fish, and poultry each has to be marinated with the right combination of spices so the flavor is distinct for that food.”

Kotb and his wife Sonia fell in love with the Bay Area after visiting family here in the 1970s. It wasn’t too long after that they decided to immigrate to the United States from Egypt. “Egypt is a melting pot of all cultures. Mediterraneo Market & Cafe is the natural combination of cultures,” says Kotb. “It is a good mix of relationships and our menu offers a variety for everyone.”

Mediterraneo crosses borders to unite cultures. The café opens at 9 a.m., Mondays through Saturdays to serve coffee and biscuits. “It’s like a community center in a sense,” Kotb says. “For the regulars who come in from NASA, synagogues, churches, area musicians, sponsored sports team, and local residents, this is like their home base.”

At lunch and dinner time, Mediterraneo is filled with laughter and banter, as well the sound of dishes being set on the tables. One quick glance and it’s easy to see why you would like to sample many items on the menu. One taste, and it’s even easier to understand why it’s so easy to fall in love with the food. Enjoy gyros, falafel, hummus, paella kabobs, moussaka, grape leaves, pasta with shrimp, pesto, or primavera. Two worthy mentions on the specialty menu are the Lamb Tagine (with apricots, prunes, chickpeas, carrots, and potatoes) and the Chicken Tagine (chicken thighs with lemons, green olives, carrots, and potatoes). Each is served with couscous made with herbs, dried fruits and nuts and comes with harissa hot sauce.

Mediterraneo uses spices, herbs, olive oil, sea salt, red wine, herbal teas and chamomile and pomegranate drinks to promote healthy eating. Spices and herbs are an important part to the overall Mediterranean diet and have medicinal properties and therapeutic effects. It’s one of the keys to an American Medical Association approved diet for a healthy heart. Your order is made fresh on an open fire grill without a greasy texture or baked. Not much on the menu is fried. “You will not feel heavy after one of our meals,” says Kotb.

Save room for a dessert such as baklava, tiramisu, or the new dark chocolate tart with an almond crust with a cup of Segafredo coffee. On Friday and Saturday evenings, belly dancers perform and live entertainment from local musicians such as Mickey Hobbs, Wayne Johnson, and Jando are on the corner stage. It’s a perfect opportunity to relax with a domestic or imported beer or choose a red wine from California, Greece, Chile, Italy, Spain, Argentina, or Croatia. Sitting outside is a great choice when weather permits.

The decorated patio complete with painted metal tables and chairs and covered with huge, colorful patio umbrellas is inviting amidst the lush green plants.

Whether walking in or out, the delicacies at the deli in the front of the restaurant deserve a look.  Check out the “Taramosalata” and “Tarama” (Greek caviar), Egyptian Roumi and Kashkaval cheeses, yogurt, feta cheese (Domestic, Dodonis, Bulgarian, and French flavors), Baba Ghanoug (roasted eggplant blended with a sesame sauce and seasonings), Dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice and tzatziki) and fresh Greek salad.

Not far from the deli and beyond the seating area is Mediterraneo’s convenience store that is stocked full of authentic imported Mediterranean foods like teas, wine, jam, beans, crackers, grape leaves, spices, falafel, tabouli and hummus mixes.

In between the deli and convenience store is a treasure trove of stuffed olives, candies, chocolates, and snacks for purchase. Snacks include nuts, Jordan almonds, hazelnuts, dried apricots, prunes and dates.

Mediterraneo takes reservations and shows both American and European sports. The restaurant also has a “to-go” menu and catering available.

“We want our customers to all be satisfied,” says Kotb. “Relationships are the key to any business and directly relational to the quality of your life. So, come in, sit down, and enjoy a conversation with family and friends. Your visit is our pleasure.”

- Rhonda Meredith

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