Restaurateurs Mohamad El Zein and Radouan Ouassaidi—owners of Moona in Cambridge—are bringing another taste of authentic Middle Eastern-style cuisine to Inman Square. The duo’s latest venture, Pita Cambridge, opened its doors in early March, serving fast-casual fare inspired by their childhoods.
“I’m from Lebanon, Rad’s from Morocco, so we tend to like to share food and flavors that we grew up with,” El Zein says. “That food that we grew up with is really what’s inspiring us to do this.”
El Zein describes the atmosphere of the restaurant, located in the Springfield Street space formerly occupied by Olecito, as reminiscent of a Middle Eastern bazaar or a souk. With light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, a chalkboard wall featuring the menu and a shawarma machine imported from Turkey, El Zein and Ouassaidi are putting a contemporary spin on their traditional roots with this fourth location of their Pita concept.
“It’s very lively and ethnic and a little diverse,” El Zein says. “We feel like Inman Square has this grungy, Brooklyn-style feel to it. That’s kind of what we’re doing with this place, setting it up to be this funky little fast-casual Middle Eastern shack.”
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week alongside a selection of grab-and-go drinks, including Moroccan mint tea served hot or cold. The menu is broken down into sections such as salads, combo plates, pita roll-ups and burgers, with options like the Shawafel, a combination of chicken shawarma and fried falafel wrapped in toasted pita bread, and the lamb shish kabobs salad, marinated tenderloin tossed with Mediterranean greens, peppers, olives, feta cheese and a house vinaigrette.
With seating for six inside and a patio that is expected to accommodate an additional 20-30 guests in warmer weather, El Zein hopes this location will hit its stride alongside Moona.
“Our goal in this location is to under-promise and over-deliver,” El Zein explains. “Those are the two major things: under-promise with our price point and over-deliver with what you’re getting. That’s what we’re really looking to do.” ◆
Pita Cambridge 12 Springfield St., Cambridge (617-945-1214) pitacambridge.com