Brothers Bilal and Mohammad Saleh grew up in Syria, where they enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables grown in their family garden.
Longing for a taste of home and feeling that the local area lacked authentic Mediterranean food, they recently opened Zaytoun Mediterranean Grill.
Located in New Tampa, the restaurant features traditional Mediterranean dishes such as kabobs, falafels, vegetarian dishes and oven-baked pies made from freshly baked pita bread. Bilal Saleh had a special brick oven handcrafted and installed in the restaurant.
"It's a tradition back home that when you go to a restaurant, they serve you fresh pita bread off the oven," said Bilal Saleh. "So I really wanted to replicate this experience. People love our bread, our pies. It just gives you that authenticity dimension that you don't see it anywhere else."
All of the food served in the restaurant is based on recipes from the Salehs' homeland, with Bilal Saleh's wife and sister-in-law helping to put together the recipes and menu.
"What we serve people is what we eat at home," said Bilal Saleh. "Everything is made fresh onsite."
Though they have only been open a short time, Bilal Saleh said they have received a lot of support and positive feedback from the community.
Zaytoun Mediterranean Grill is located at 10970 Cross Creek Blvd., and is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. To view the full menu, visit zaytoun-grill.com.
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