Fast-casual restaurant empress Samantha Wasser has done it again, this time with Middle Eastern food. The co-founder of vegan darling By Chloe and stylish Roman cafe The Sosta has teamed up with Top Chef Canada host Eden Grinshpan for Dez at 227 Mulberry St. in Nolita.
The menu at Dez (it’s short for desert) is rooted in Grinshpan’s Israeli background, then adapted to check off an impressively thorough list of trends. The hummus is pink (thanks to beets), there’s toast topped with halva during brunch, there’s a breakfast pita topped with a fried egg, a soft serve of the month, and lots of gluten-free options.
It reads a bit as if Marrakesh were a city on the California coast. This is not a bad thing. Where Middle Eastern food is usually heavy on meat, Dez goes in on salads and mezes like fire-roasted eggplant with pomegranate, while incorporating unconventional ingredients like basil, watermelon radish and jalapeno.
Dez is meant to feel like a getaway, and to accomplish that ethereal feeling the duo recruited interior designer Jeanette Dalrot, who worked on the famously all-pink cafe Pietro Nolita. The results are vintage Moroccan rugs used as upholstery on banquettes, plants in bespoke ceramic pots, splashy tiled walls in bright yellow and terracotta, and an Arabian Nights-style cartoon desert landscape in the bathroom.
During the day, giant windows create an airy courtyard feeling to sip your Devocion coffee, while at night expect some majlis-style ambience thanks to candlelight, with three wines and a pilsner on tap available by the glass or carafe.
There’s even a gift shop where you can buy some of the store’s sauces as well as tourist tat like palm tree-printed bucket hats, hot pink water bottles and tie-dyed T-shirts, even a wall of postcards to send to… whoever might want a postcard from a trendy restaurant in New York City. Or just hold one up and take the ultimate “wish you were here jk xoxo” selfie for Instagram.