James Beard Award-Winning Chef Alon Shaya Announces Debut Of First Restaurant In New Orleans: Saba
NEW ORLEANS — James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya and Pomegranate Hospitality announce the debut of their first restaurant in New Orleans: Saba on Friday, May 4. Meaning Grandfather in Hebrew, Saba reflects Alon Shaya’s rich culinary heritage and pays homage to the array of influences from the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa, that comprise the ever-evolving cuisine of Israel.
Saba’s kitchen is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Cara Peterson with the front of house overseen by General Manager Jessica Retif, while Alon and fellow James Beard Award-winner Culinary Director Zach Engel oversee the entirety of Pomegranate Hospitality’s culinary program. Saba offers the signature modern Israeli cuisine for which Alon has been recognized, while introducing new elements rooted in memories of his family and recipes cultivated during his travels. Guests will experience an improved wood-fired pita recipe with freshly-milled flour from local Bellegarde Bakery & Mill; a section of shishlik style items cooked over wood coals such as Octopus with shawarma spices and Eggplant with peas and zhoug; and a selection of family-style Plates such as Harissa Roasted Chicken with bay leaves and lemon; and Lamb Shank Basteeya with ras al hanout, dried fruits and walnuts. An improved version of Alon’s signature Hummus returns with assorted toppings, from local Blue Crab with snap peas and mint; to wild mushroom with soft cooked egg and crispy chicken skins. The team is eager to introduce a creative Brunch service including an elaborate Israeli Breakfast spread; a Saba Sampler tower with bagels, hand-sliced smoked fish and all the fixings; and dishes like Pastrami, Egg and Cheese on Crispy Yemenite Flatbread. Desserts like Warm Babka with hazelnut gelato and blackberries and a Turkish Coffee-inspired Labneh Cheesecake with cardamom meringue round out the menu.
Saba’s wine program showcases Israeli, Turkish and Middle Eastern wineries, while exploring varietals from Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and coastal Europe, alongside some domestic and natural selections. Cocktails incorporate regional Israeli flavors, such as 100 Blessings with Yerba Mate infused vodka, labneh and peach; Ein Gedi clarified brandy milk punch with overproof rum, Cognac, pineapple, green tea, baharat and citrus zest; and Dionysus Revival with turmeric-infused pisco, yellow chartreuse, lemon and angostura, plus table-side Arak service, the anise-flavored spirit popular throughout the Middle East. Non-alcoholic highlights include a Frozen Lemonana with mint, house-made Celery Soda, and a subtly sweet Hot Moroccan Mint Tea with green tea and lemon.
Saba’s interior is designed by Studio MRS Interiors, whose co-founder Michelle Smith is a Louisiana native and close friend of Alon’s wife Emily Shaya, operating alongside associate Hayley Cavagnolo. Saba’s design evokes the feeling of a grandfather’s house: masculine, classic and uncomplicated. Anchored by the wood-burning pita oven, the design complements the structure’s original history, with the addition of blue painted moldings, a more open-feel and personal touches such as Saba’s Table, a locally made wood private dining table which seats up to 14 diners. Collaborating with Studio MRS Interiors on the space was the Office of Jonathan Tate (OJT), a New Orleans-based creative architecture and urban design practice.
Saba’s hours of operation are as follows: Brunch – Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Lunch – Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Mid Day Menu – Wednesday through Sunday 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Dinner – Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.