Meze Madness

Welcome to the age of meze dining, a choose-your-own smorgasbord that’s even better suited to communal dining than tapas. From Turkish fusion to Greek taverna fare, here’s how some of Boston’s best chefs are making small the next big thing. Again.
meze dining boston

Photographs by Marian Siljeholm, styling by Mariel Tenney

THE CHAMPION
Sarma

Meze-style eating might be popular at the moment, but it’s not a trend—it’s a way of life,” says Sarma chef-owner Cassie Piuma. A small-plates champion since her days at business partner Ana Sortun’s Oleana, Piuma leans far more on her Greek heritage and travels in Turkey for their restaurant in Somerville. Now two years old, Sarma has become one of the city’s culinary darlings thanks to its dim sum–like service and modern mélange of influences, evident in upcoming dishes like (1) Piuma’s Moroccan-spiced corn pancakes smeared with Medjool date butter and cinnamon pecans; (2) the classic Cypriot dish known as potatoes afelia; and a baharat-flecked quail kebab served over rice pilaf and roasted chanterelle mushrooms.

249 Pearl St., Somerville, 617-764-4464, sarmarestaurant.com.

ON THE RISE
Committee

Restaurateurs George Aboujaoude (Cafeteria) and Demetri Tsolakis’s latest, Committee, is giving the Innovation District’s dining scene a much-needed jolt. The slick eatery, which opened in June, embraces the stringent local and hyperseasonal ethos of the meze philosophy—which means Oleana alum Geoff Lukas’s fall menu will feature dishes like (3) coffee-roasted carrots sprinkled with an Egyptian spice blend; (4) seared halloumi with blistered grapes and ouzo; and grilled bluefish salad studded with pickled chicory. “When you’re doing these meze or family-style dinners, there’s a very deliberate and explicit focus on a sense of place,” Lukas says. “Whether you’re talking about Greek, Persian, or Moroccan food, it culminates in this much bigger experience.”

50 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-737-5051, committeeboston.com.

meze dining boston

Photographs by Marian Siljeholm, styling by Mariel Tenney

COMING SOON
Doretta Taverna and Raw Bar

Back in April, chef Michael Schlow made the emotional decision to close his beloved 13-year-old Italian restaurant, Via Matta, to make room for his most personal venture to date. Set to open later this month, Doretta Taverna will draw from recipes and heirloom cookbooks handed down through his wife’s Spartan family. Expect clean, simple presentations such as a (5) smoky-sweet bulgur salad with charred broccoli, almonds, and dried sultana grapes; coins of grilled octopus layered with lemon, onions, and capers; and (6) Gulf shrimp dappled with dill and hot chili pepper. “I really wanted to highlight the dishes my family has been teaching me over the years,” Schlow says. “I’m happy to pay homage to all of the gorgeous food they’ve served me.”

79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008, dorettaboston.com.

TO GO
Clover

Clover Food Lab’s latest experiment? A branded meze bar that will roll into six Boston-area Whole Foods locations this fall. After a trial run at Clover’s Brookline Village outpost last year, the fast-casual concept is planning a rotating selection of protein-rich spreads like white-bean dip with sage butter, as well as salads such as roasted beets peppered with mint and feta.

cloverfoodlab.com.