Two chefs with past experience at top NYC restaurants Via Carota and Olmsted are now branching out on their own with a new Mediterranean restaurant in Williamsburg. Sami and Susu, located at at 279 Grand Street, near Roebling Street, opened for delivery and takeout last week, and shares a space with neighborhood bar Maracuja.
It’s the the first collaboration from Amir Nathan and Jordan Anderson, the former of whom worked at Via Carota as a manager and the latter at Olmsted and Maison Yaki as a chef. At their new restaurant, the duo is focused on Jewish-Sephardic cooking, with a seasonal menu of spreads, dips, salads, and natural wine.
Dishes at Sami and Susu pay homage to the cuisines of Turkey, Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Greece — as well as to Nathan and Anderson’s own upbringings as Jewish-Americans. Here, cauliflower is seasoned with nectarine mustard and pastrami rub, while the restaurant’s pulled-chicken matzoh ball soup, a recipe from Anderson’s mom, “almost resembles a Jewish ramen,” Nathan says. Other dishes from Nathan’s childhood, like rolled bureka with pecorino and ricotta cheese, as well as peppers stuffed with pork shoulder and salsa, also make their debut on the restaurant’s menu.
Sami and Susu — named for the first Arab-Israeli children’s show to be broadcast in the 1960s — was always partly envisioned as a to-go concept, Nathan says. “I originally envisioned this as a cross between a Mediterranean grocery store and a natural wine bar,” he says. “A place where people can pick-up food for a picnic, but also where they can come in and snack while drinking a beautiful bottle of natural wine.”
With the takeout concept in mind, summery spreads like baba ghanoush, roasted red pepper dip matbucha, and a parmesan dip — all befitting a picnic — dot the menu alongside a selection of natural wine. Nathan hopes success at the restaurant will propel the duo to open up a standalone venue.
With their years of experience working at Via Carota and Olmsted — two of the most popular restaurants in the city — Nathan and Anderson are used to the hours-long waits customers endure to nab a seat. The duo wanted to avoid that at their own restaurant.
“Our team has worked in restaurants with four-hour waits and cover charges that can cost hundreds of dollars,” Nathan says. “I respect peoples’ decisions to do that, but there are other ways to give people a lovely experience.” At Sami and Susu, this means cooking that comes from the heart, generous portions of food mostly priced under $15, and wines under $20 a bottle.
Sami and Susu is open daily for delivery and takeout from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.