Moona Brings Arabic and Mediterranean Meze to Cambridge
The meze madness has extended into Harvard, and now Inman Square: Moona, a cozy space to share hot and cold Arabic and Eastern Mediterranean small plates, has softly opened in Cambridge, Eater Boston reports.
The first venture from a duo of restaurant industry veterans, Mohamad El Zein (formerly of Masa Restaurant Group) and Radouan Ouassaidi (South End Pita), quickly turned the former Playska space into the new, 30-seat wine bar. Moona is named for an Arabic word meaning “pantry,” to reflect the palette of aromatic spices, herbs, and preserves, like local apple marmalade, and walnut-stuffed pickled baby eggplant, that flavor the cuisine.
Executive chef Mark McMann (Shepard, Ashmont Grill) offers an array of spreads and dips, including hot pepper muhammara, and the Moroccan eggplant and tomato salad zalouk. There are also cured olives and pickles for snacking. Make a meal mixing and matching plates like Istanbul vine leaves filled with currants, pine nuts, and dill; flaky chicken bastilla with phyllo, nuts, and orange blossom; merguez sausage with labneh, cucumber, mint, and more. There are also shareable entrees, like whole-fried black bass, and Cornish hen tagine. Seasonal produce and other perishables complement the preserved bounty.
“I love taking a jar of pickled labne from my pantry, putting a sprinkle of za’atar and olive oil on it and eating it with warm pita bread,” El Zein says in a press release. “Radouan and I want people to experience the history and impact that the pantry has on food.”
Jars of house-made spice blends, jams, pickles and preserves are also available for retail sale, and eventually, the team plans to start cooking classes at the restaurant.
Moona has a 10-seat bar, with two, seasonally changing beer drafts, and a small but curated list of wines and craft beers. The cosmetic redesign features bright blues, greens, and whites, with Mediterranean-style mosaic tiling. There are copper accents, but other finishes have been left for a rustic look, like exposed brick and plumbing.
Dinner will be served Sunday-Thursday from 5-10 p.m. (bar until 11 p.m.), and Friday and Saturday from 5-11 p.m. (bar until midnight). For soft opening week from October 17-23, the full menu is available with a 20 percent discount.
Moona, 243 Hampshire Ave., Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-945-7448, moonarestaurant.com.